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A Time to Die (Out of Time Book 1) Paperback – October 1, 2014
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"A Time to Die weaves a strong premise, interesting science fiction, a spiritual message, and a likeable heroine into a compelling, well-written novel. Brandes has a real gift for words and the imagination to back it up."
"Nadine Brandes has accomplished what many authors attempt, but few succeed. . . . refreshing in young adult fiction!"
From the Inside Flap
How would you live if you knew the day you'd die?
Three hundred sixty-four days, seven hours, and sixteen--no, fifteen--seconds left to live. Like everyone else on the east side of the Wall, Parvin Blackwater has a clock counting down the days until her death. At only seventeen, she has one year left. When the authorities find out she has been illegally sharing a clock with her twin brother, she is cast through the Wall - her people's death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about God, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. If she can get the word to them before her time runs out.
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Parvin Blackwater feels as though she has wasted her life- At the age of 17 she has only one year left to live according the clock. But something is different- She isn’t certain if the clock is belongs to her, or her twin brother. So she does the only thing she knows to do- Stands up for radicals. Only things don’t quite as planned and Parvin finds herself cast over the wall.
This book makes me think about my own life. It challenges you to explore who you are and why you choose to live. I was carried away by Parvin’s story as the stakes grew on her journey. I was swept away into this world and found myself identifying with Parvin as she embraced her failure.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves YA fiction. It is well worth the time.
First of all, the characters were very interesting and well written. I loved being able to see Parvin's relationship with God grow throughout her journey. She continued to grow in her faith. The author also did a great job of conveying the emotions one would feel in the situation Parvin was in. Jude was also an amazing character. Although he had moments when you wanted to hate him, he really was just aggressively protective of the people he loved. He truly cared for Parvin. I also loved that the author showed his raw emotions in times when he felt most vulnerable. Most of the other supporting characters were also written very well, and I appriciated that you could understand their emotions and decisions.
Secondly, the description of the setting was great! Many books tend to over-describe until you feel overwhelmed. But Nadine Brandes perfectly describes the world through the eyes of the characters. She gives just enough information so that you can envision the world and appreciate it, but not feel overwhelmed and confused.
Third, Nadine Brandes uses such descriptive writing to portray emotion. You are really able to feel the what the characters are feeling and their internal struggles. Every emotion that Parvin felt, I was able to feel myself because Nadine Brandes not only described Parvin's emotions in perfect detail, but she also made you feel a deep attachment to the other characters. She made me love all the characters and at the end, I realized how I had slowly fallen in love with her characters and their emotions. Basically, Nadine Brandes is a spectacular author who knows how to use the emotions of the characters to deeply affect the emotions of the reader.
Last, I appreciate that although God and His Shalom are the theme of the book, they aren't overly "cheesy" or brought up at inopportune times. You see that Parvin is able to grow in her conviction for God's Shalom. It is brought up as the theme, and it is woven in many times thorughout the book. However, it is not overdone. And seeing Parvin go from struggling to have faith to doing everything for God's purpose really inspired me to live for God, no matter if it made me an outcast like Parvin. Overall, I love how Nadine uses her faith the make this book inspiring and encourageing.
I would HIGHLY recommend A Time to Die.
WHAT WORKED: The Clock idea is compelling. It’s reminiscent of the film Out of Time, but unlike that film, time is not a currency to be exchanged, but an absolute, always-correct deadline. It also made sense that those without clocks would be considered radical and objects of contempt.
Parvin’s journey is also interesting, trying to make up for lost time in the truest sense. Her journey’s not an easy one, in fact it’s downright grizzly at times, and it’s nice to see her go through the story with a few, shall we say, encumbrances.
Most side characters are also interesting enough to care about. Parvin’s brother Reid shares a Clock with her, neither knowing whose it is thanks to a mistake at birth, and tries to live to the fullest. Biographer Skelly Chase is one evil sonofagun, but definitely leaves an air of mystery. Heck, even the childhood bully made me want to know more about him and he only had two brief scenes.
The Christian aspects aren’t preachy, even when it’s served on a silver platter. Parvin is exploring her faith and growing her relationship with God. That growth feels real and relevant without hammering it over the reader’s head. The message of shalom is very clear, but never screamed in your face. It’s integral to Parvin’s journey.
Throughout the book there were many clever phrases, one of my favorite being “I scrape a teaspoon of voice from my windpipe” to describe Parvin’s fear. Even with the flaws, the story is well-written.
WHAT NEEDS WORK: The story is a bit meandering. While each location has compelling dangers and feels real enough (for the most part), I remember getting to 70% on my Kindle and thinking, “Is this going somewhere?” The point of Parvin’s journey is vaguely defined and it takes quite a while for the pieces to line up. HOWEVER, this is mostly intentional. Parvin has no idea what to do or how to make her life meaningful, so she has to do a lot of trial and error.
The world also needs more fleshing out. We get fleeting glimpses of why the world is a dystopian place, but what does that have to do with the Clocks? And why did that person who caused the apocalypse do that thing in the first place? Why exactly was a wall erected between the eastern and western United States? Why does everybody walk on tightropes (that’s not a metaphor)? Hopefully, we’ll learn more about the world in future books.
I hate to say this, but the story had echoes of other dystopian stories like Hunger Games and Divergent. Late-teen girl going against her oppressive government, living on the fringes of a poor society while the higher class ignores them, a cute young girl who’s really just there to be a cute young girl, mysterious world origins, a cute-but-frustrating boy, fear simulations, and miscellaneous future tech. They’re all small, but they add up.
I couldn’t like two of the main characters. Jude is the sort-of romantic interest who’s nice one minute, then a jerk the next, and never quite hit that healthy medium for me. Willow, the aforementioned cute girl, really doesn’t add much to the story. In fact, the story almost functions entirely without her.
OVERALL: 3.5/5 stars. The good outweighs the bad. While some parts get frustrating, even those moments are well-written. It’s also nice to see a Christian fiction that cares about the story as much as its message. There’s enough mystery to keep the reader going and it ends on a high note (so to speak) that left me wondering what happened next.
There’s also one last thing that separates this story from other YA heroine adventures: Parvin makes bad choices. Most stories have their heroine dealing with bad circumstances or suffering for doing the right thing. Many of Parvin’s problems are self-inflicted and it’s nice to see a character who has to deal with the fallout of her own decisions (or lack thereof).
Most recent customer reviews
Do yourself a favor and go read this gem. <3
Parvin Blackwater lives in a world where everyone is given a clock at conception.Read more