A contemporary YA suspense with a touch of the supernatural. Perfect for fans of Lisa McMann’s Wake and Crash series.
Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.
Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client’s young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.
Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie’s whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it’s too late?
The first half of this book was slow going for me. It was just full of despair, and I felt real fear for Maddie. It wasn’t until the second half that I began to really enjoy the book because there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel for the main characters. I had no idea who the killer was until Maddie did, yet it was a believable twist, and I was impressed because I usually figure it out quickly, especially in YA suspense. The death dates were a concept I had never encountered before, and, though I usually like to understand why someone has a special ability, I was glad the author didn’t come up with an explanation and just played it off as a wonder of the universe. There were interesting themes in this book that I think a YA crowd will respond to — having to be the parent when your own parent falls short is a more common problem than most people probably realize. I thought the depiction of bullying was spot on. As much as I was frustrated by Maddie’s lack of response, it was true to her character and to many victims of bullying. I liked the way the author chose to end the book, and I wasn’t prepared for the final bit of serendipity, but I was pretty pleased when I turned the last page. I think my students will enjoy the book, and I am adding it to my classroom library wish list. The language and situations are appropriate for high school readers.
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