It’s a Wonderful Death is a wonderful book. There is so much about this book to love.
Rowena Joy (RJ) Jones is one of the mean, popular girls in high school who pretty much always gets her way, even if it means making other people’s lives miserable. As the “queen bee” of her high school, popularity is everything to her. She gives up her old friends, torments those who are less popular than her, and basically has no regard for anyone else in her strive for popularity. She’s made some really poor choices in her life, but since she thinks her life is pretty good, she doesn’t really care who she steps on or hurts on her way to the top. Like a lot of popular girls, she feels like she is invincible, and she doesn’t concern herself with the little details of how her actions affect those around her.
Until one day, at the school carnival, the grim reaper comes to collect the soul of the fortune teller – only to accidentally kill RJ instead. Stunned, confused, and angry, RJ is whisked away to begin her afterlife. Only RJ isn’t having any of it, because she isn’t ready to be dead. So she puts up a fight and causes an uproar so that her case is heard – and that she can get back to her body and back to her life.
However, upon watching the movie of her life and seeing some of the moments in which she might have used some questionable judgement, RJ starts to see what kind of a person she was – and she doesn’t really like what she sees. After much deliberation, it is decided that RJ may return to three moments in her life and try to do them over – the right way this time. She is guided by three souls that she knew in her life – three souls that were connected to her in life and are affected (either directly or though family) by some of RJ’s decisions. RJ has one more chance to get these moments right and change the events of her life so that she might be allowed to return and continue living – only if the angels are impressed by her actions and feel that she has changed enough to warrant changing everything.
I loved pretty much everything about this book. It’s fun, it’s lighthearted and yet deep at the same time, and it reminds me of A Christmas Carol. My favorite part about the book, however, is definitely the amazing character development present with RJ. Rarely do I see such a well written character to begin with (sometimes I really enjoy the “bad” characters!), and seeing how she changes throughout the novel is amazing. She really turns her life (and, well, death) around, and I really felt a connection to her.
I was pretty sad when this book ended, and for a while I was kind of peeved about the ending itself, but after having a day or two to think about it, it’s quite obvious that the ending was absolutely perfect for the book. I can’t imagine this book having a better ending. Sarah J. Schmitt really knows how to create an addictive story and remarkable characters that stand out from other books. She also painted a beautiful picture of the “afterlife,” and it was so easy to get attached to the characters there. They were fun, they were colorful (for example, Death wears Hawaiian print shirts…who knew?), and they were some of the best written characters I’ve come across in quite a long time.
This entire book deserves a read, especially if you like the A Christmas Carol theme going on. The whole high school/popular girl drama was well written, and It’s A Wonderful Death is sure to become a favorite!
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.