The other day, I talked about how writing in present tense is a sign of a beginner and amateur. I still mean it. And that’s why I almost didn’t continue with this novel. Even so, I dug in, and here, present tense works somewhat. That’s because of the special location where the novel takes place, and because of the topic itself. More about that in a moment.
I often get notifications about free ebooks on Amazon. And yes, it’s part of Amazon’s marketing strategy to give away books for a day, to gain a larger readership. These days, I’ve gotten a little smarter and check reviews before I grab a book, even if it’s for free. Even so, this is a way of getting to know new authors and reading novels I would never have touched otherwise. (Although the percentage of duds is … annoying. And I will have a rant about marketing ploys later.)
Anway, back to the novel itself. This time, it was a YA book with a rather tricky topic: suicide. And yes, present tense. Teenager … oh, dear. The books starts out with date rape, too. In fact, the main character, Piper, kills herself after just a few chapters. This, it turns out, is just the beginning, not the end. Piper ends up in the „Station“, a place in between heaven and hell. Everyone who commits suicide ends up there. From now on, it’s their job to try and keep others from doing the same.
The tale goes on to describe the first two „jobs“ of Piper. The first „client“ of Piper is a young man called Sloane. Dawson uses a lot of humor to deal with the rough subject – picture female teenager in the body of a male. However, Piper’s only way of communication with Sloane is through her voice. She manages to make Sloan change his life. Soon, he starts feeling better, but he still has a gun hidden in his apartment. Before Piper is sure that Sloane is out of danger, she is called back to the Station. One of the others has not prevented a suicide but in fact encouraged the „client“ to go on a shooting spree.
Piper’s next job is a young teenager with a big problem. She’s almost ready to kill herself because on top of the difficult family situation, she’s getting mobbed in school. Piper manages fairly quickly to turn this around – even though the solutions feel rather simplistic.
When Piper returns to the Station after finishing this job, tension is in the air. And when Piper finds out why … well, you will have to read that for yourself.
All in all, I enjoyed the book. Mostly. Dawson chooses to deal with a difficult topic using humor and jokes. It’s still obvious she cares much about helping teenagers. Both the helplessness of Piper’s parents and friends, as well as the resultant fight of Piper herself to keep others from suicide ring true and make this book moving despite the light-hearted voice. That is quite fitting for a YA tale.
If I were giving out stars, the book would probably get four of five. It is fun to read but it remains somewhat superficial. And I’m taking one star off for the dreadful cover picture. Ugh.
*Original from Trish Marie Dawson’s Website