YOLO: Cassie-la Buries Herself in “Denton Little’s Deathdate” by Lance Rubin

Denton Little's DeathdateDenton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin (Galley)
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Genre: Fiction, young adult, dark humor, think if Final Destination were a rom-com
Rating: 3.89 out of 5 stars

Summary: In the not-so-distant future, scientists can determine the day you will die. For Denton Little, who will die at the tender age of 16, that day is tomorrow. Denton has his deathday all planned out, but nothing goes according to plan when he gets pulled into a love triangle, meets a strange man from his past, discovers buried secrets and avoids his impending death at all costs. Will he survive to see prom night or will fate and his deathdate prevail?

The honest, quirky and over the top protagonist in Denton Little’s Deathdate (not Denton’s Little Deathdate) is for obvious reasons, Denton Little, a 16-year-old who has only one day left to live and who (despite his best efforts) can’t seem to get his last days on earth right.

How does Denton know his days are numbered? The book is set in a semi-futuristic world where citizens know what day they’re going to die (from the age of 5 and up) thanks to AstroThanatoGenetics (ATG), a science-fiction-esque study pioneered by a Nobel-Prize winning monster/genius — depending on your viewpoint.

By studying a baby’s hair and blood and the DNA of their parents, scientists and statisticians are able to somehow determine one’s deathdate (don’t think about it too much), which is mandatory for all citizens in the US, UK and Germany.

Due to his status as an Early (anyone with a deathdate before 21), Denton has planned out the events of his DeathWeek very carefully. Sadly for him, Murphy’s Law has other plans and everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

In a series of darkly comedic misadventures, Denton suffers his first hangover, finds himself embroiled in a love triangle, loses his virginity (twice), attends his own funeral, is forced to make up a self-eulogy at said funeral after forgetting his speech, misses the majority of his Final Celebration dance party, suffers from several near death experiences, oh yeah, and he’s slated to die.

Which left me wondering partly into the novel, can’t Denton change his fate? Can he escape his deathdate by spending his final days in some kind of safe room? Or pass his death to someone else a la Final Destination?

Unfortunately, for those living in this future world/this possible alternate timeline, death (much like life) finds a way, and your deathdate is your deathdate no matter what you do.

What does that have to do with genetics? Who knows. Stop thinking about it so much!

On the downside, in this world, you know the day you’re going to die. On the upside, you know the day you’re going to die.

In a world where you know your expiration date, you can prepare for you eventual demise by tying up loose ends. The U.S. Department of Life Conclusions (USDLC) even sends you a form letter telling you what to do with important documents, how to make a will, become an organ donor, pay off your school loans, etc, etc.

As Denton learns however, even when you know the day you will shuffle off your mortal coil — even if you don’t know how — you may still feel like you didn’t leave quite enough of a mark or live enough of your life when your time eventually comes. And come it will.

In the immortal words of Drizzy Drake, “You only live once — that’s the motto n**** YOLO.”

THE GOOD

  • The premise is both dark and intriguing
  • Denton is a fun protagonist, complete with humorous asides
  • Teenagers do all the things teenagers do, complete with realistic (and occasionally awkward and annoying) dialogue
  • Jersey represent!

THE BAD

  • That’s not how science works silly
  • Drags a bit and gets predictable/even more ridiculous toward the end

THE QUOTES

  • “I’m not sure what’s more unsettling, the message’s content or the choice of Comic Sans…”
  • “We like that it’s kind of a funny throwback to the 1950s, when teenagers would park up at Make-Out Point or Lovers’ Lane or Sex Mountain or whatever.”
  • “Who would ever want to be sitting in a room with their family for twenty-four hours straight? How is that anybody’s idea of a happy way to die?”
  • “I’ve never died before. I don’t think I’m very good at it.”

For other books about our eventual d-days, check out the darkly comic A Dirty Job, the painful and romantic My Heart and Other Black Holes and the celebrity death-obsessed John Belushi is Dead.

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2 thoughts on “YOLO: Cassie-la Buries Herself in “Denton Little’s Deathdate” by Lance Rubin

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