Author: D.J. McCune
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Date: May 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal
Buy the Book • Goodreads
Adam is a Luman, and it runs in the family. Escorting the dead from life into light, Adam must act as guide to those taken before their time. As his older brothers fall into their fate however, Adam clings to his life as a normal kid - one who likes girls, hates the Head and has a pile of homework to get through by Monday morning. When Adam gets a terrible premonition he realises that he must make a devastating choice, risking his life, his family and his destiny.
I was pretty much sold when I heard about the book at the Hot Key Books event that I attended—a book about a family of grim reapers? Hell yes! Unfortunately, it just really didn’t meet my expectations. It’s such a huge shame that I wanted to love it, but so much of it didn’t work for me.
The book follows Adam, a Luman, part of a family that have acted as grim reapers guiding the newly departed into the ‘light’ for generations. Unlike his brothers though, he hates his heritage and gets a bit ill when having to travel to the other side. He longs to have a normal life as a teenager, doing normal things like playing pranks and crushing on girls. As luck would have it though, he actually has a rare Luman ability and he needs to decide whether to break the law and use his powers for good.
The narration was really jarring, as the third-person style didn’t let get me invested in Adam. I was told things in dribs and drabs and it was hard to really connect with Adam as a main character. I also thought it made the book feel more juvenile that it was given some of the themes it explores.
The story itself was a strange mix of contemporary high school hijinks and cool, paranormal adventure. And while I really liked one part of it, I felt let down by the other half.
I mean, it’s been a long time since I’ve been a teenager, but were teenage boys really this immature? The majority of the story revolved around them playing a drawn-out practical joke on a mean teacher. There was a little bit of trying to date, friend jealousy and bullying as well, but mainly just practical jokes which were mean and not really that funny. I also thought that Adam generally made some pretty dumb choices throughout and he kind of deserved all of his misfortune. I struggled to sympathise with him.
On the other hand, the Lumen part of the book was great. I was fascinated by the Lumen’s role in guiding spirits into the afterlife. I was really intrigued by the unique political structure their society has. There was also one stand out reaping scene that was very harrowing. If only more of the book was about this part of Adam’s life! Seriously Adam, why do you have this fascination for being normal? Being a Luman is so much cooler.
All in all, it was right down the middle for me. It just started to get interesting at the end and then it stopped. I would probably read the sequel if it focused more on the part of the book I enjoyed, so I think I’ll wait and see what other reviews have to say before picking it up.