I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I, Death by Mark Leslie

This review is based on a pre-published copy of the book. Nonetheless, I was very impressed with the creative way in which it was written. Most of it is written as a blog complete with comments from people out there on the internet, which provides in an interesting way, dialogue. Peter O'Mallick, the blogger, started the blog at the suggestion of his school guidance counselor. Peter believes that he can cause the death and suffering of those around him in some way, starting with his mother who died giving birth to him and his father who died when he was seven by getting run over by a car when he followed Peter who disobeyed and ran across the street to play with his friends. He also believes he killed his childhood friend in a hunting accident when the kid ran ahead and tripped and shot himself.

At the beginning of his blog his girlfriend, Sarah, won't speak to him. Her father had recently caught her performing a sexual act on him and when he confronted Peter he didn't yell at him, he just expressed his disappointment, which angered Peter. Right after that, he ended up with a brain tumor. Peter believes that Sarah must blame him for her father's tumor and that that is the reason she is not speaking to him. He loves her so much he is almost stalking her at school. The internet commenters tell him to give her some room and that she just got some bad news about her father and needs to process it. So he is trying to give her the room she needs. He is also having these horrific nightmares that follow him throughout the book.

At this same time he is falling in love with Shakespeare. Especially Hamlet and goes to the English teacher to ask for suggestions on what to read when he sees her with Sarah and becomes jealous of the teacher who has been spending so much time with her. That night the teacher and Sarah are in a car accident and the teacher ends up in a coma, while Sarah is lucky to walk away with just some cuts and bruises.

They get a new teacher, Robbie who introduces Peter into the world of books. Be prepared to add many authors to your reading lists here such as Sean Costello, Richard Layman, and Robert J. Sawyer. He feels a real rapport with this teacher and he even starts to stop thinking of Sarah some and start thinking of a girl named Monica instead.  The day after he asks her out and she blows him off something has happened to her and Peter blames himself once again whether it's his fault or not. And yes, more bad things will happen. And there's a mystery man who is in search of Peter for his own nefarious purposes.

By this time he is interacting more with the people who comment on his blog. Sometimes this will be an antagonistic relationship as he feels as though some of these people do not understand him or are giving him bad advice. This book shows how intimate we can become with complete strangers online and how angry and emotional that relationship can become when we feel we are not being heard or understood.  Yet, it's hard to convey an emotional conversation online (though in this case, Leslie conveys these conversations and actual ones recalled rather well). It is easier to get your meaning across if you are face-to-face with the person. But even then, while you might be understood, you still could be wrong. Leslie masters this unique way of writing in blog form with comments.

There will be times when you will want to give Peter a hug and tell him it will be alright and at times you will want to shake him and tell him to snap out of it. He's a teenager, so that's a common feeling when dealing with teenagers. This book quickly had me hooked and I did not figure it out so I was surprised by the ending. I cannot recommend it enough.

But he never hated the old man for his actions. On the contrary, the slaps and punches and spankings were virtually the only physical contact Brecht had with anyone, and he’d grown to look forward to them as a sign that the old man loved him.
-Mark Leslie (I, Death p 179)
Link To Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/I-Death-Mark-Leslie/dp/1927609038/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480524900&sr=1-1&keywords=I%2C+death+mark+leslie

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