Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Max Shaw is dead.
Well, sort of.
After dying on prom night, Max was recruited by a mysterious tattooed angel named Slade to join a group of teenage reapers. Cocky and sarcastic, Max thinks he has his afterlife together, but the moment Slade assigns him to his first suicide case, everything changes.
Christian college student Kody Michaels is struggling to make sense of his life and his faith. After a failed suicide attempt at an antigay camp, Kody is determined not to fail again. Tired of disappointing his family and God, he is going to end his life once and for all.
But in a split-second decision, Max saves Kody—defying the rules of a reaper.
Max believes his only concern is convincing Kody that God loves him just the way he is, so he can save him from a hellish afterlife as a shade. Little does Max know, some shades have found a way to walk among the living as wraiths. These evil wraiths know Kody has been slated for death, and they have another, darker purpose for him.
Max has only one night to save Kody before one of Slade’s team finishes the job Max lacked the courage to complete.
Review: I’m not religious or typically that fond of YA stories so it’s kind of a surprise how much I liked this book. I was intrigued by the reaper aspect and I like the author’s work under her other name so I decided to snatch this one up when offered up for review. DO NOT let the religious aspect scare you away. It is a very big part of this book but also it’s sweet and funny. The angels curse and joke, which I of course love. There’s also a beautiful romance and friendship that blossoms between the two MCs when they both need it most.
Max is a reaper. It’s something he chose soon after his death. Lucky for him Slade found him and saw the potential in him. Max just wasn’t quite ready to head over to heaven yet. So now he works as someone who ushers people along after their death. One night his assignment sends him to a bridge where he sees a guy about his age standing on the ledge. The utter sadness he sees in the lovely young man’s face stirs something in him he hasn’t felt before. He needs to save him. Reapers are not allowed to intervene. It’s not their place but Max is compelled to break the rules for Kody.
Poor Kody is in a really low place in his life. His family sent him away to a pray away the gay camp to “cure” him of his urges. Of course that didn’t work but faking it to come home came with a high cost. Kody is miserable. So sure he’s wrong somehow because the bible, his parents and his preacher says so. He’s the type of guy who wholeheartedly believes in his religion despite it making him feel guilty for his desire for other guys. He’s young and innocent. Very confused and all alone. Feels like he’s an utter disappoint to his family. Right when he’s about to end it Max appears and talks to him. An understanding and kind friend is exactly what Kody seems to need. It’s not long before the attraction between the two becomes apparent. Now keep in mind these are both young guys who are virgins and fairly inexperienced. Max is already in trouble for saving Kody and it’s maybe not a good idea to make out with a guy who was just about to kill himself BUT he also knows he’s attracted to Kody. Max is also convinced he needs to help unburden Kody about his struggle of being gay and having his very strong faith in God.
There’s more to this book than religion and romance. There’s also an impending battle of good vs evil coming and that hints at another book to come because it didn’t happen in this one. Which I’m looking forward to. There are Shades roaming the earth for eternity and they have discovered that if they take over a body at the time of death, they can live for a short while enjoying all the pleasures humans do. This only lasts for a short time so the Shades have to keep finding new bodies to commandeer. Even forcing the persons death to get the body if needed. I liked Slade the biker reaper boss guy. He’s frustrating because he never gives you the entire story but he’s an Angel (kind of) that cusses and I can’t help but love that.
So maybe this book won’t be for everyone but I liked it. There’s a really strong message of hope and acceptance in this book. For being a good person and true to yourself. The romance was sweet and there’s some smexy going on in a briefly part of the book. The couple is so adorable together. Max is so wise beyond his years but still very young. Kody is set free in this book and though his struggle was hard, him finding happiness made me feel happy.