A Time to Die

A Time to DieA Time to Die by Nadine Brandes
Series: Out of Time
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Published by Enclave Publishing on September 23, 2014
Pages: 389
Also in this series: A Time to Speak
Also by this author: A Time to Speak

 

Living in a time when the day of your death is predicted at birth, seventeen year-old Parvin Blackwater feels she has wasted her life. According to her Clock, she will die by her 18th birthday. Determined to make a difference with the time she has left, she uses her last year privileges to request a meeting with famous biographer, Skelly Chase, hoping to find her purpose while writing her life story. Her meeting with Mr. Chase exceeds her expectations, but all is not as it seems. When government authorities find out about her illegal activities of helping Radicals escape the crooked justice system, she is banished over the Wall – which equates to a death sentence in her society. What happens once she is cast through the Wall changes her forever. With her days dwindling, can she find her purpose? More importantly, can the discoveries she makes over the Wall save Radicals from death?

The idea of a clock connected to every person isn’t something I’ve read before; while it seems odd and something that may not translate well into a story, Nadine definitely pulls it off.

The plot of A Time to Die is one of the most riveting that I’ve read in a long time. The first quarter of the book, I truly wasn’t sure what direction the story was going go, and, if I’m honest, I was losing steam and having trouble staying invested. I lost my Kindle charger and wasn’t able to read it for a few days. I ended up reading on my iPhone one day because I unexpectedly had the opportunity to do so – the very next chapter made me sit up and pay attention (and also track down my Kindle charger the moment I got home). I’m not sure what it was about getting to that point of the story; I think it was that the events were so unexpected to me, I just had to keep reading to find out what happened next.

Dystopia novels sometimes confuse me; I never feel like I have enough information about the world of the story, and that can be frustrating. I did feel that sometimes with this story, but it actually goes along well with Parvin’s character. The city she grew up in is considered a “Low City,” and therefore doesn’t have as much access to technology and resources like a “High City.” The idea of a clock connected to every person isn’t something I’ve read before; while it seems odd and something that may not translate well into a story, Nadine definitely pulls it off. It comes across as completely realistic, and although the science behind why this is possible is never truly explained, I didn’t really care because I was much more interested in the “what-if” than the “here’s-how.” The advanced technology that Parvin uses and then later discovers is very interesting and adds a lot to the story.

I always admire an author that isn’t afraid to put their characters through realistic struggles, and that realism is found in this story.

Parvin is such a relatable character. She’s sometimes irritable, she asks a lot of questions, and generally doesn’t know what she is doing. But she’s also brave and a realistic combination of weak and strong, as real people tend to be. I always admire an author that isn’t afraid to put their characters through realistic struggles, and that realism is found in this story. While I wished for things to be easy and was even surprised to the extent of suffering that Parvin has to endure, thinking back, I don’t think the story would have held the same gravity had things just miraculously resolved themselves. Since the story is told from Parvin’s point of view, the other characters are somewhat mysterious. Sweet Willow is a pleasant character that is a lot stronger than she appears. Jude is a bit of a mystery, but his character broke this reader’s heart. Parvin’s trials mature her and the development that she undergoes is of both a personal and spiritual nature. On the spiritual side, she desires to have a purpose, but has trouble trusting that God will bring her to it. Her life is severely shaken, and she has to rely on her faith, even when things look bleak. On the personal side, she gains a confidence and strength than she ever had need of in her old life.

I wasn’t expecting the survivalist nature of the story, but I could hardly put the book down during these scenes because of their intensity.

There is a considerable section of the story where Parvin and her companions are simply trying to survive. In this post-war world, the land is uncertain. What starts as a vast, grave-like desert land might soon turn into a hodge-podge city. I wasn’t expecting the survivalist nature of the story, but I could hardly put the book down during these scenes because of their intensity. The excellent first-person narration that Nadine chose to use really amplifies the heightened tension throughout the story. The tension builds gradually at first, but then doesn’t let up until the end. The ending packs a huge emotional punch – I won’t go into any of those details to avoid spoilers, but I was really shocked at the way some plot points turned out. I’m hoping that the next book will reveal even more about the worlds on both sides of the Wall.

I’m so pleased that I had the opportunity to read A Time to Die. I am really eager to read book 2, A Time to Speak and see what happens to Parvin next. I feel confident that Nadine will bring about an end result that produces both faith and hope through her characters. While this is classified as a young adult novel, I think adults can enjoy this as well. I highly recommend this novel for readers of both age groups who like dystopian stories with well-developed characters, exciting journeys and daring adventures.

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