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Dark & Funny | Book Review: Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Denton Little’s Deathdate offers a YA science fiction setting with death and laughs and torturous tension. Get ready…

Book Review: Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

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denton little's deathdate by lance rubin

Title & Author: Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction, Contemporary

Release Date: April 14, 2015

Series: ?? This better not be a standalone

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“Denton Little’s Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that’s tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.

Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend’s hostile sister. Though he’s not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton’s long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters…. Suddenly Denton’s life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.

Debut author Lance Rubin takes us on a fast, furious, and outrageously funny ride through the last hours of a teenager’s life as he searches for love, meaning, answers, and (just maybe) a way to live on.”

Feeling Conflicted

I both really liked and really disliked Denton Little’s Deathdate at different times while reading. The book reminded me of the movie TiMER (currently on Netflix) in that it was a contemporary story with one odd science fiction element.

In the book’s case, the world created is just like our current time only that people can have their blood tested to find out the exact date they’ll die. For Denton Little, it’s when he’s 17 years old.

The blend was like 10 percent science fiction, 90 percent contemporary, which I thought was unique and fun. If you’re a huge science fiction fan, it may annoy you that there’s very little explanation as to why the blood and DNA can produce the exact date of death, but otherwise, it’s easy to forget the science and focus on the drama.

Cuz, there is a whole TON of drama. This is what led me to dislike Denton’s Little Deathdate at times. Denton himself is a likable enough guy (and he’ll tell you that himself), but he makes some super bad life decisions (understandable in the face of his impending death) and then proceeds to handle them like…a 17-year-old boy.

I think it’s just been awhile since I read a protagonist who was a high school boy (see: 100 Sideways Miles). They are much more irritating then I’d like to remember. This is 100 percent a personal preference.

But, romance-wise, one of my pet peeves pops up, which increased my irritation ten-fold.

I love a book with great tension and action, however, I was disappointed that most of the tension created in the book stems from one question: When/where/how will Denton die?

You see this dilemma created from page one, and to have it continue to the very last chapter was borderline torturous. Comedic relief from Paolo (Denton’s best friend) was welcome and so spot-on, but it wasn’t enough to stop me from feeling like the rest of the book, i.e. the middle bit, was kind of “filler.”

I’m assuming that there will be a sequel because I was left with so many questions that I physically slammed my Kindle in frustration (sorry, Kindle!!!).

Interspersed with the wait for Denton’s death (yes, it’s morbid), are some touching moments that I very much appreciated. Denton grows up a bit (a very little bit) and does some super cool things for others that genuinely moved me.


Personal irritations aside, I think readers will be interested by Denton’s dark yet funny story of death and life and what happens in between. However, the almost torturous journey through the book to discover almost no answers might by the conclusion might make Denton Little’s Deathdate unsatisfying for many.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Sounds complicated, but in a good way. Certainly an interesting blend – contemporary and scifi. But I understand your frustration as well. I like things to make sense and questions to get answers too. Great review.

  • OMG I thought I was the only person on earth who has seen TiMER! I loved that movie. I was reminded of that a little when I saw the synopsis of this one, too. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while but I have a feeling the POV will bug me too.