Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2013 Truman Possibility 13: The Death Catchers by Jennifer Anne Kogler

Oh my gosh, I don't know if I can say just how much I loved this book!  The story was really good, but besides that, with it being my first year teaching 7th grade English, specifically about plots and narrative writing, I loved the titles of the chapters, and how the protagonist or main character explained what they meant and how she was doing that with that part of the story.  I could totally see using this with my class some year when I'm teaching this in the future.
This isn't the first book by this author that I've read.  I read The Otherworldlies a few years ago for The Truman list as well.  I wasn't as excited about that one.  It seemed a bit too familiar and like other books that were popular at the time.  Not that it wasn't good, as the first line in my review on that (which you can read if you click on the title) says basically this same thing.  It just didn't grab me like The Death Catchers did.
Okay, so, as I said, this story is being told by our protagonist, Lizzy Mortimer, which means it is first person point of view, as she points out in the chapter titled "Point of View".  Lizzy has to do something to make up for not turning in her project for English class with Mrs. Tweedy.  And so she writes this "letter", albeit a very long letter, to explain why she didn't get the project done, and to hopefully make up for the project.  In the story we learn how she finds out she is a Hand of Fate, just like her grandmother Bizzy.  Only they feel that name is too old fashioned, so they change it to Death Catcher.  The first specter, or notice that someone is going to die that Lizzy gets is for her very best friend Jodi.  Needless to say all Lizzy wants to do is save her. But Bizzy explains that she can't tell Jodi, she can only do her best to keep it from happening.  They are able to save Jodi, but in doing so, Lizzy sees her first Banshee.  A little creepier than they are in the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent.  :-)  And soon Lizzy gets her next specter.  It's the cute guy at school.  And not only that, through research, Lizzy find out that Drake is a little more important than just someone to save.  Saving him will keep Doomsday from happening.
There is mythology in this story, it is from the story of King Arthur.  And while it is a bit interesting to have it happening in California, seeing as how that legend is really from England I think? That does make a bit of a stretch in a way.  But not in a bad way.  It didn't keep me from enjoying the story.
Another thing I totally loved was Lizzy's mother.  She sounds just like the type of librarian I want to be.  According to Lizzy, her whole goal in life was to find the Right Book for that person.  I feel the same.  When I see kids who don't like to read, or who say that, I always tell them they just haven't found the right book.  And I want so bad to make it my mission to find that for them.  And I try, in between teaching, and when I'm working at the bookstore I enjoy finding books for people there too.
Again I have to comment on just how much I loved getting to each new chapter to see what writing tidbit would be the title of that chapter, and how she would explain it as part of the story.  Such an awesome, awesome, awesome book!  I even told one of my students about it, and the chapter titles, and they thought that was such a cool idea!  I will definitely be buying this to keep in my classroom library whether it makes the final Truman list for next year or not.
If you enjoy re-tellings, this is an interesting one for the whole Arthurian legend.  If you are an educator of any sort, classroom teacher or librarian, I can't imagine you not enjoying the fun way this was set up.  The characters are very quirky and likable.  I truly, truly LOVE this book!

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