Review: The Lighter Side of Life and Death

“Sixteen-year-old Mason Rice is having the night of his life. He’s just delivered an incredible performance in the school play, basked in celebratory afterglow vibes at the party of the year, and lost his virginity to one of his best friends—the gorgeous but previously unobtainable Kat Medina. His dreams are coming true, and the future looks golden.

Unfortunately, Kat sees things very differently. Crossing the friendship line was a big mistake, and all she wants is to forget it and move on, even if that means forgetting Mason altogether. What’s a guy to do? Well, if you’re Mason, you hang your hopes on the first attractive twenty-three-year-old you cross paths with. At first Mason wonders if he’s imagining the chemistry . . . until Colette invites him over to her apartment. Suddenly Mason’s living in a whole new world.”–From Amazon

The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin is not your typical YA romance. When I think about the genre, I typically imagine something light and playful, but this book is much more intense and edgy. I’m generally the last person to think about age appropriateness, but I would recommend this book for older, more mature teens and adults. This is not a book for the prudish reader. The premise of the book is based on sex, and the sex scenes are plentiful and fairly graphic. There’s also explicit substance use and profanity aplenty, but I’ve come to expect those more in YA books. I clearly missed the partying scene when I was in high school, but the books I have been reading lately have helped me live those experiences vicariously.

With that said, the book was truly wonderful. The writing was vivid, there was a strong sense of voice, and Mason’s narration made me feel as though I was experiencing everything right along with him. It took me a little while to settle in, though. C.K. Kelly Martin jumps into the story quickly, introducing a lot of characters right off the bat. After I read a few chapters and got more comfortable with who was who, I was able to become entranced by the story without being confused by its many players. The subplots dealing with Mason’s theater experiences and his blended family were nicely incorporated into the overall story; Mason’s interactions with his new step-siblings and cat were some of the most enjoyable moments of the book.

Throughout the novel, I was reminded of some of my favorite episodes of Everwood. The older woman and teenage boy relationship was much like that of Madison and Ephram. (I’m probably losing a lot of people here.) For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I hope you will go to Netflix or some other DVD provider and find out, because Everwood is one of my favorite television shows of all time. Until you are able to do this, it is enough for you to know that this connection is a positive thing. Anything that reminds me of Everwood can’t be bad.

I hadn’t heard a lot of hype about this book beforehand, which made me skeptical, but I’m glad I bought it. I’m looking forward to reading Martin’s other books: I Know It’s Over and One Lonely Degree. If you’d like to see the trailer or a teaser from this book, check out my recent Teaser Tuesday post. Let me know if you see any other reviews for The Lighter Side of Life and Death; I’m curious to see what others think.

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