Tundra Books, 2010
The story of one boy’s experience with the (not so) sweet hereafter.
Fresh from having stolen a piece of fruit and taunting the grocer, Jim, a fourteen-year-old wannabe gangster, bully, and car thief, is run over by a car. What follows is a hilarious, bleak, and ultimately hopeful visit to the afterworld, courtesy of Richard Scrimger, one of the country’s finest writers.
This is an afterlife peopled with unforgettable characters that might be drawn from video games: angry Slayers, tearful Mourners, and scary Grave Walkers. Jim meets them all and is given the chance to return to earth with the extraordinary gift of knowing what happens when we die. Now he must deal with living demons, including a neighborhood torturer and a truly creepy older sister. With imagery from the mean streets as well as the arcade, Me and Death is thought-provoking, exciting, sad, and funny — sometimes all at the same time.
From Tundra Books website.
Okay, I’m going to get a bit patriotic here for just a second: I LOVE quirky kids books by Canadian authors. Sure, there are quirky books published in other countries, but in my opinion Canadian authors just go that extra quirky distance. And Me & Death by Richard Scrimger was plenty enough quirky for my tastes. A sort of retelling of A Christmas Carol but with a mean kid instead of an old man, there was so much in this book that made me smile. I mean it talks about double doubles, crullers and maple cookies. So Canadian I loved it!
In the vein of a traditional redemption story, Jim starts off quite the rotten egg, but slowly changes as he meets different people in the afterworld and comes to realize what’s ahead for him if he doesn’t change his ways. Jim’s a great character, and while Scrimger went overboard with Jim’s bullying ways (but overboard in a fun way), the book never really came off as preachy when Jim starts to straighten out.
I loved how all of the characters in Me & Death seemed so random at first, but in the end they all tied together and intertwined. Stories like this always help me to realize just how small the world is and how one action can have a lasting effect on many.
I did find that there was a chapter or two towards the end that seemed a bit uneven and way more serious than the rest of the book. I found that the slight change in tone took me out of the story. But with that being said, it was still a wonderful book and one that I would highly recommend.
Browse inside Me & Death.
Thankfully I didn’t have to bully Tundra Books into sending me a review copy.