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Denton Little's Death Date
Lance Rubin
Alfred A. Knopf, 2015

Denton Little's Death Date is a young adult novel that is mostly a comic coming of age novel and a little bit a science fiction. It is set in our current-day world, with the sole difference that there is technology allowing everyone to know the date of their death with 100% accuracy.

For much of the book, it's a fairly standard high school / prom / teenage drama story, with the unusual twist that the day of prom is also the day that Denton is going to die (cause unknown). His deathday involves some standard traditions, such as Denton attending his own funeral and his family coming to his sitting, waiting for death.

But things don't go quite as planned -- Denton gets drunk, gets into a fight with his girlfriend, gets a corrupt cop mad at him, discovers he has a stalker, and gets involved in a mysterious government plot. He is aided in these trials by his best friend, who shares the rare distinction of having a deathdate before high school graduation, and will be dying one month later.

The story is well written and integrates an unusual premise smoothly and in a pleasingly matter-of-fact manner. I found it a bit boring at times, with a lot of teenage angst, worry about drugs and sex and prom, and all the other mandatory trappings of a high school drama. The characters make up for it, though, and before too many chapters the number of mysteries and the pressing deadline of death make for a fairly exciting story. While I wouldn't recommend it on the basis of the science fiction elements, they do liven up an otherwise potentially hackneyed novel. There is a sequel, Denton Little's Still Not Dead.

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