What would you do with one day left to live?
Wow. That’s all I can say about this book; it packs a punch. Hutchinson even warns you at the very beginning:
“The first thing you need to know about Oliver Travers is that at the end of this story he’s going to die. ”
But you don’t believe him. As you’re reading you keep telling yourself, it’s not going to happen. Oliver has received a Deathday Letter, informing him he will die in twenty four hours. Readers are kept in the dark regarding the reasoning and origins behind the Deathday Letters, and it sounds like the characters are equally clueless when it comes to these answers. That part is even addressed at one point in the book. Since you don’t know who’s sending these letters, you think it’s a joke, it’s a prank, but everyone is taking it so seriously. I thought it would be like The Giver, but instead it seems more prediction or destiny than government intervention.
Oliver is a likeable guy, although a little crass for my taste in the beginning. It sounds so cliche to say that he’s a teenage boy so of course he’s obsessed with sex and food. But Oliver even tells readers that those are the two things that guys are obsessed with, so it’s kind of difficult to not lump him into that category. By the end of the book, he’s improved, at least in my eyes, and he’s become less clueless and cliche.
His relationship with his best friend Shane and his crush Ronni make great reads. Shane is the kind of friend I want, game to do everything, even when he’s scared silly of doing it, in order to make his friend’s last day memorable. The ending with Ronni is bittersweet, and while I didn’t expect what they did together (I was expecting a rocket launch, which you’ll understand once you read the book), it fit. At one point in time someone tells Oliver that he needs to think about everyone he’s leaving behind, instead of just himself, and that seems to be the driving force behind the change in his attitudes and actions.
Parents would probably find a lot to object to, with drug use, under-aged drinking, porn, and sexual acts between minors all being discussed or portrayed in some way. I don’t think it’s glamorized in any way, though. It makes you think, “What would you do on your last day to live?” Oliver tries to avoid all the mushy “I love you and I’ll miss you” stuff, and I think the ultimate resulting outcome was a good balance between that and fulfilling your bucket list — while meanwhile making fun of those kind of lists.
This book is not getting the press, the reviews, or the buzz it deserves, and I heartily look forward to reading whatever else Shaun Hutchinson writes. It’s If I Stay meets Swim the Fly, presenting a welcome romp through life that encourages celebrating what you have while you have it. Bravo!
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