January Review: This story made my daughter throw the book across the room...twice!
A Time to Die
Author: Nadine Brandes
Publisher: Enclave Publishing
When your daughter says it’s her favorite book by her favorite author, you must read it.
Well, I was not disappointed.
What if you knew the exact moment you would die?
Parvin Blackwater lives in such a world. In the United States of the East, each person is born with a clock letting them know every second they have to live. All of life is dictated by the clock, including education and healthcare. Those who have no clock or choose to live without them are outcast as Radicals. In the town of Unity, it means being cast out through the Wall into the unknown and wild West. For Parvin, the Wall is her daily reality as she and her brother Reid cling to the secret that they share a clock. An unexpected multiple birth meant that only one clock was prepared for the two of them. Neither knows whose clock it is, yet Parvin is convinced it’s hers. And it’s running out.
Parvin is a young girl I could hope my daughter will emulate in many ways. Brave and sacrificial, she makes it a habit to speak up for Radicals and the injustice of casting them beyond the wall. Her love for her brother runs deep, and she is willing to adjust her feelings about her parents as the truth is revealed. As the final year of her life begins, her only thought is how to leave her mark on the world and help those subject to inequality. She regularly comments on her weakness, and her fears have kept her from seeing more of the world, something she is forced to confront.
Reid is the loyal brother to Parvin, who lives the adventurous life she’s always been afraid to. Living as though the clock is his, he has traveled to see the places Parvin has only dreamed. Yet, he does not fail to return home to be with his sister as the clock approaches zero.
Jude, Parvin’s companion into the unknown, harbors a secret past. On the constant lookout for her safety, he longs to help her see her journey to its end at great cost to himself.
Skelley Chase, what can I say? A famous author with unclear motivations, he launches Parvin on her journey to tell her story to the world. I was not a fan. Why? Read the book.
There are quite a few other characters that I loved, yet describing them would give away the surprises.
As a fellow writer of young adult dystopian books, I profoundly appreciated Brandes’ world-building and intentional writing. A world in which someone knows the date of their death would truly operate differently, and Brandes does a great job injecting you into that world.
Themes of love, sacrifice, and leaving a legacy are what this book is about. The message for young readers that their lives are shorter than imagined and that they should leave something greater than themselves behind is a powerful one. Faith is a huge theme as Parvin struggles with her own view of God.
Sometimes I felt that Parvin’s destination was unclear, but perhaps that is the point. It’s unclear to her, and it’s who she becomes in the process that matters most. I was also occasionally bothered by her level of physical weakness, but there are forms of toughness that she does show.
The ending is fast-paced, tense, and unexpected—not unlike most of the book. I wasn’t kidding when I said my daughter physically threw her copy of the book across the room more than once while reading it. You will be left breathless at the end and wanting to pick up its sequel, A Time to Speak.
I would recommend A Time to Die to any dystopian reader or young adult fan. Young women will connect to Parvin and her heartbeat. Young men will appreciate Jude. All will connect to the desire to want to be more than they are. The read is clean without language or sex. There is some violence, but it is never graphic. Religion is handled tastefully and is not preachy despite direct biblical references. Romance is mild and clean.
Since my daughter was the one insisting I read it, I can assuredly say young readers will enjoy Brandes’ unique story.
Available on Amazon.
No disclaimer. I did not receive anything from the author, nor was I requested to write this review.