Author: Christopher Mannino
Page Count: 270
My Rating:4 TURTLES: A great read, I definitely recommend.
*I was given this book in exchange for an honest review
Thirteen-year-old Suzie Sarnio always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe. Now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. The task is demanding enough, but as the only female in the all-male College, she quickly becomes a target. Attacked by both classmates and strangers, Suzie is alone in a world where even her teachers want her to fail. Scythes hungry for souls, Deaths who enslave a race of mysterious magicians, and echoes of an ancient war with Dragons. Caught in the middle of a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths, Suzie must uncover the reason she's been brought there: the first female Death in a million years.
School of Deaths is a very imaginative story, I've never read a book that dealt with the myth of the Grim Reaper like this before. Suzie has a lot of pluck and at the same time I could believe she was actually thirteen. There is also quite a big cast of interesting, complex characters surrounding her that add considerably to the story. These characters made the subplots just as interesting as the overarching plot that builds throughout the book as sets up the series.
For this review I was given an audiobook and I thought it was well narrated. I don't know that I would have made the choice to have a man narrate a story told through the point of view of a girl, but he did a good job with different voices and accents for the characters. Having the extra element of the narration definitely added to my enjoyment of the story.
One thing that I kept thinking about though, was the implications of there only being male deaths. Suzie is the first girl death in a million years, and we see this impacts her experience because she is bullied, but not much beyond that. One thing I would have thought would be addressed about an "all male" world, even if briefly, would be the queer community. Would the straight deaths be jealous of gay deaths since only men were in the dating pool? Would straight deaths try to villainize homosexuality because they were jealous or turn to it despite it not being their first choice? Also, since deaths are usually taken to the College when they are young, has a trans girl ever been taken? The book ignores all these sorts of questions, which is too bad. It seemed like a missed opportunity to me, but I recognize I think more about queer representation in the media more than most people.
I would place School of Deaths on the younger range of young adult but would recommend it to any fan of fantasy. The audiobook is a great way to pass time commuting or at the gym, so I would also recommend you check out that format as well.
Disclosure: this post contains links to an affiliate program (Amazon), for which I receive a few cents if you make purchases.