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Early to Death, Early to Rise: Madison Avery, Book 2

Review

Early to Death, Early to Rise: Madison Avery, Book 2

In this follow-up to the bestseller ONCE DEAD, TWICE SHY, a modern girl brings enlightenment to the divine when she becomes one of Earth's timekeepers. Madison Avery's murder on prom night is the event that prompted this role, after she claimed that an amulet endowed her with divine command over dark reapers. Madison now walks among the living with angelic cohorts Barnabas and Nakita, seeking out those who divine guides have targeted for death.

In life, Madison's style and attitudes set her apart as an outsider. She had sometimes felt insecure, and few of her classmates made efforts to get to know her. But dying made her care much less about fitting in, and she now feels more comfortable being herself. Currently a senior, she misses the mortal pleasures she took for granted in life but is still haunted by her memories of the night she was murdered. Her prom date, Josh, has since become a close friend (and possibly a boyfriend), but she had been mortified when he first asked her to the prom; her soft-hearted dad was the one who had arranged the date, feeling sorry for Madison because she was new. She had accepted the offer out of obligation but had become overwhelmed and walked out on Josh at the dance. She ended up leaving with a seemingly harmless, gorgeous newcomer who turned out to be a reaper and then killed her with his sword. But Madison had snatched the timekeeper's amulet, claiming her rightful place in her fated role as his replacement.

Since that day, Madison has accepted her timekeeper responsibilities with a degree of discomfort and distrust. She's in command of the dark reapers, angels of fate who target humans with the intent of saving souls but who are ultimately agents of death. She has contact with guardian angels as well, servants and spies of the seraph, and keeps in close contact with one light reaper: her friend and protector, Barnabas. Madison finds it disturbing that she's been fated to command "dark" agents rather than "light" --- who work to protect lives and value free will over destiny. But it is because Madison does believe in the value of choice that she's unwilling to carry out her role in the customary way, and her boldness and insistence on remaining true in her integrity have earned the respect of many. Madison seems to be slowly changing the way things have been done among the angels now for eons.

Where the first installment concentrated mainly on Madison's death and claiming her role as timekeeper, the second focuses on the moral implications of a single reaping. Characters are more fully developed here, and there is a humanizing and deepening of personal values. It becomes more clear that Madison has a very particular belief system, based on seeing the good in people and believing that anyone is capable of change. She is bold in her style and a very decent person who makes a good role model for those around her. Reapers Barnabas and Nakita, though polar in their convictions, both become more amiable and moderate in their thought processes. They also teach Madison the importance of keeping an open mind about labeling "dark" and "light," and their singular auras evolve continually with prolonged contact with her. Madison becomes more confident and strong in her leadership as well, but remains impulsive and clings to her defiance and hopeful attitude.

EARLY TO DEATH, EARLY TO RISE is thoughtful, fun and continually entertaining. The perky, chic cast of characters will hold readers' interest, particularly Madison, who is sure to charm many with her exuberant personality and tendency to radiate optimism. Her diplomatic approach in dealing with her enemies is impressive and raises the question of several possibilities of a future love interest for her. I suspect that the mystery behind Madison's love life will hold at least as much interest for readers as the central fate-versus-choice theme does. This is a quick summer read that is not overly serious and is charming enough to please a variety of fans. 

Reviewed by Melanie Smith on May 25, 2010

Early to Death, Early to Rise: Madison Avery, Book 2
by Kim Harrison

  • Publication Date: April 26, 2011
  • Genres: Paranormal, Suspense
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0061441694
  • ISBN-13: 9780061441691