Monday, February 4, 2013

ARC Review: The Wrap-Up List by Steven Arnston

In this modern-day suburban town, one percent of all fatalities come about in the most peculiar way. Deaths—eight-foot-tall, silver-gray creatures—send a letter (“Dear So-and-So, your days are numbered”) to whomever is chosen for a departure, telling them to wrap up their lives and do the things they always wanted to do before they have to “depart.” When sixteen-year-old Gabriela receives her notice, she is, of course devastated. Will she kiss her crush Sylvester before it’s too late?

Friendship, first love, and fantasy artfully mesh in this magically realistic world that ultimately celebrates life.

The start of a review is usually the hardest for me, and I can say that the beginning of this book was also what I found slightly difficult to find my way through.  Like my reviews though, this book picked up quickly and at the end I couldn't even pinpoint why it was a struggle to start.  I think overall it was the concept of this book that I found hard to grasp.  We're dealing with a Roosevelt ear background setting and characters who don't fall into any specific category.  They're just like you and me...with a one difference.  Apparently 1% of all fatalities in this "reality" are due to what Arnston refers to as Departures.

People who find themselves receiving a letter in the mail from what are called Deaths scheduling their departure from this world.  These deaths are eight feet tall and have silver, almost translucent like skin and walk as though they're walking under water....slowly and with some difficulty.  Do you see where I might have been a little hung up in the beginning?  But all that aside, this book turned out to be a really fun read and one I ended up highly enjoying.

Everyone who is scheduled for departure is allowed to create a wrap-up list (hence the title) and here they can do a sort of bucket list of things they'd like to see happen or accomplish before they depart this world.  There are no guarantees but you get the idea.  Our main character's wrap-up list was original and while it might have seemed silly to be revolving around first kisses, it turned out to be about so much more.

I found myself really enjoying these characters and not wanting to see anyone have to depart their world.  Arnston also packed quite a few witty scenes that had me laughing out loud and reeling from it all.  And while scenes like the oatmeal being flung at the death Hercule for startling an unsuspecting mother were hilarious, there were also some highly insightful moments throughout as well.  One in particular has stuck with me when our main character meets a soldier and realizes that, "...when he puts on the uniform he takes off the feelings. When he puts on the soldier he takes off the man."  While this quote might not make complete sense to someone who hasn't read Arnston's book, it hit home with me and still has me thinking long after I finished.

So if you're looking for a fun, light read that contains both humor and thoughtful insights, look no further and check this title out!

I gave The Wrap-Up List 3 shamrocks!!!


  1. This book looks really similar to The Deathday Letter, which came out a few years ago. I liked that book, so I might give this one a shot! Plus, I enjoy when a book is both humorous and insightful.

  2. I enjoyed reading this book-I wasn't quite sure what to expect but really liked what I got.



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