The Reluctant Reaper

The Reluctant Reaper - Gina X. Grant Kirsty D’Arc is happily living her life, doing her thing when her day is spoiled by being attacked by a stapler. A stapler. As if violent office supplies weren’t enough, she then finds her boss is actually trying to sell her soul – to get an extension on his old contractA dizzying series of terrible accidents finds Kirsty down in Hell, the afterlife. And nothing is what she expected but nor is it easy to fix such a blatant mistake. She’s down there for some time – giving her chance to learn a little about herself, her family – and how little she had done with her life but also what she actually wantsEspecially concerning attractive Reaper Dante.You can tell this book was designed to be funny and light full of quips and wit and lots of giggly moments. It doesn’t take itself seriously, it often jumps into the ridiculous and positively wallows there. Everything is a little silly, a lot zany, a lot whacky and more than a little cartoony. And I can appreciate that – some of my favourite books have been those that are just loopy and out there and make me giggle all the time. It’s especially fun when you take something as serious and dark and mournful and, well, grim as a Grim Reaper and throw all this light, silly, funny joy on top. So it had a lot of potentialAnd completely missed the mark for me. I don’t think I laughed once, unfortunately, I’m not even sure if I cracked a smile. The humour is contrived, it doesn’t fit even in the zaniness. It relied a lot on convoluted mental monologues while Kirsty chased her own thoughts in circles until she could force out a quip (and setting up your own funny lines doesn’t work). There is an inordinate number of puns – puns on top of puns on top of puns that just don’t work for me even slightly.It has the odd line like: “When life had handed me lemons, I’d gone online and purchased grapefruits. Victoria’s Secret was safe with me.” That wasn’t bad. But gee-nomes that sting you and alter your DNA? Lead by the streetsmart “metrognome”. She gets angry when it’s misty so becomes “misterical”. The mist that would not be missed? I didn’t laugh – I did groan. I did look back and see if I had actually read that. Then I groaned again. And really, this is just the tip of the iceberg. It gets worse. It gets so much worse.This is shaky ground to be on. You have a book whose prime selling point is its humour and, to me, it’s just not funny. That’s crashing and burning right there.But, worse, humour is pretty much all the book has. The plot is really weak. She dies, she goes to Hell, she wanders around and random stuff happens. That’s about it – each random event is an excuse for some more zaniness and puns and maybe some world exploration – but there’s no actual plot. There’s a vague, background “oh I want to go back to my life” but she doesn’t actually do anything about that or about anything else. She just kind of exists. I think this is trying to set up her character as someone who has no karma – because that is exactly what she is in this setting, she has neither good karma nor bad karma (which is currency in this Hell) because she hasn’t actually lived; she never takes chances, she never does anything, she’s not an active participant in her own life. Which is an interesting thing to explore in both a character beginning to grow and over a series – but there’s nothing else in this book to provide a scaffolding around a deliberately blank protagonist.Read More