I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This was my first time reading a book like Deadliners. I have seen a few movies, and I used to watch a show called Dead Like Me that had a similar premise, but I have never read a book about a fictional afterlife and Grim Reaper like characters.
When someone dies, they become what is called a “Deadliner”, and deadliners are responsible for helping other spirits transition from life on Earth to the afterlife. They live a life very similar to human beings, and they also have some minor supernatural abilities, but for the most part, the only difference between a deadliner and a human is the fact that deadliners are–well–dead.
At the start of this story we are introduced to five deadliners who are all members of the same team, Charlie, Anna, Reece, Milly, and Danny.
Charlie is funny, sweet, a bit of a man slut, and head over heals in like with Anna. Anna, is also very sweet, intelligent, sensible, and not sure how she feels about Charlie. Reece is the newest member of the team, and he’s a little shy and sulky at the beginning of the book, but his character develops a lot by the end of the story. Milly is the “mom” of the group. And last but not least, we have Danny, the leader of our little deadliner family.
One thing that stood out the most to me about this story was the authors willingness to let her characters be unlikable at times. It is easy to create a villain or two, but I respect it when the hero is also a jerk. Danny ran through the gambit when it came to his behavior. He was loyal and unreliable, kind and cruel, smart and stupid, but most of all he was conflicted. He had an intense desire to be with his wife again, and he was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen. He crossed several lines and broke just about every rule there was, but for some reason I still sympathized with and liked him. Maybe it was because he was so flawed or maybe it was in spite of his flaws, but I enjoyed his character the most.
The relationship between Anna and Charlie was cute. He does a little chasing and she appreciates his determination. It was strange to experience two souls fall in love under their circumstances, but they shared so many adorable moments that I forgot to question it after a while. Actually the relationships between all of the deadliners were enjoyable. Once the story gets started they all sort of go off on their own personal journeys, but when they do come together, the chemistry between the five of them was really great to read. Each of them has to deal with some extremely difficult things because being a deadliner is just as hard as it sounds. It’s not easy to constantly be surrounded with death and have to bargain for people’s right to continue living. It is also hard for them to be so close to those they love and not be able to take an active part in their lives. It is a constant battle for them to do their jobs and do them well, so that they will be able to pass to the other side and find peace.
There were some aspect of the story that jumped around and I did feel like certain things were abandoned because it made it easier for the story to progress. The deadliner’s ability to bargain for the lives of certain humans and earn them more time was a little bit too convenient at times and the rules surrounding when they could do this were not very clear to me. I was also baffled by the way certain members of this deadliner team were allowed to run amok and do pretty much whatever they wanted without any ramifications for their actions. Their job was a very serious one, they literally controlled life and death so I wanted the rules they had to follow to be better defined, and I definitely wanted there to be some sort of consequences when they disregarded the few rules they did have. The deadliners certainly suffered and there is an explanation for why the characters behave in such an erratic manner, but the absence of any real structured superpower who was ultimately in control was missed by me. I know that this is pure fiction so I neither expected nor wanted there to be elements of religion in this book, but these people needed a boss who wasn’t ruled by “human” emotions, kept close tabs on them, and had the ability to rein them in when they got out of control.
If anything, deadliners are allowed to be more human than actual living human beings. They can experience all of the same things as the living, but they don’t have to deal with sickness and the threat of death. This leads to them being able to fall in love, fight, mourn, and for lack of a better word, “live” unlike any living being would ever be able to. I still wanted more structure throughout the story, but the overall idea is rather genius when you think about it.
I would not classify this as a depressing or feel good read. There were moments when the sadness and despair of the deadliners, their families, and the people whose lives were coming to and end was hard to read; but there were also times when the sweetness and love that everyone experienced brought a smile to my face. The author took some ambitious chances, and sometimes it paid off or me and other times I was left feeling puzzled, but I was never bored. I went into the book expecting fantasy and fun, and while I got what I expected, I also experienced some sad, and suspenseful moments that surprised me. This was an interesting and emotional take on the idea of Grimm Reapers, and I would absolutely recommend it for fans of those types of stories.
Because of language, sexual references, and violence, I would recommend this book for ages 16 and up. There were no sexually explicit scenes.