Thursday, April 28, 2011

Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison

A seasoned author of supernatural tales, Harrison makes her YA debut with the story of 17-year-old Madison Avery, who is killed by a "dark reaper" named Kairos on her prom night. But by stealing Kairos's amulet in the process, Madison manages to retain her soul. Along with Barnabas, a beautiful "light reaper," and Grace, her guardian angel, Madison plots to repossess her body and protect her prom date from Kairos and from the dark reapers' attempts to control time and fate. Having been content as an outsider ("I was happier being myself-purple hair, loud music, dead, and everything-than trying to fit in"), Madison must build her trust in others in order to save her life and discover her fate-whether or not she even believes in fate. Though rules and explanations seem at times a little too convenient, Harrison weaves an exciting battle, not between good and evil, but between free will and destiny. A compelling blend of mysticism, suspense and surprise make for a quick and pleasurable read. Ages 12-up.

My thoughts:
A couple years ago I read Prom Nights From Hell which featured the first story about Madison Avery.  I'm afraid I don't recall it very well, just that she died on prom night and stole an amulet that allowed her to appear to still be alive.  This book picks up four months later.  Madison and Barnabas, a light reaper, have been working all summer on Madison learning to touch his thoughts.  Through attempting to thwart a dark reaper they find out that the amulet Madison stole belongs to a Timekeeper, not an angel.  Once it is revealed to the dark reapers that Madison is alive she starts needing a guardian angel to keep her safe. 

At times I felt bad for Madison because her life was stolen away from her, but at others I got frustrated with her.  She is trying so hard to be herself, but in doing so is going to an extreme so that she doesn't fit in, and then blaming the way others see her on them instead of on herself.  Her outfits sound cool, but if she is going to complain about being singled out by being different than she doesn't need the added bonus of purple tips in her hair and odd clothing.  To me being yourself is being comfortable with who you are and dressing how you want and not worrying about what other people are saying about you because you are true to yourself.  At the same time, she is in high school and that is a time when it can be more important to feel good about what others think and say about you.

The angel elements and Timekeeper role kept this fresh for me.  The dark reapers work for a dark Timekeeper who is human, but has an amulet that allows him to not age and live indefinitely.  They follow orders from the seraphs and believe in fate.  The light reapers are trying to thwart the dark ones by believing that people have a choice to make and fate cannot be predetermined.  The dark reapers are there to kill people who will one day cause a lot of pain for other humans.  This part reminded me of Minority Report and the way policing was done based on a prediction that someone was going to commit a violet act.

Madison is living with her father after having gotten into too much trouble while with her mother for sneaking out and breaking curfew.  She misses her friend Wendy and hasn't really made a lot of new friends.  In order to try to fit in more she has shied away from some of her interests like photography.  This again to me says she was not really being herself.  It will be interesting to see what happens in the second book of the series and how her senior year of high school goes.

Product Details

Pub. Date: April 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback , 232pp
Age Range: Young Adult
Series: Madison Avery Series , #1
ISBN-13: 9780061441684
ISBN: 0061441686

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