Are you ready to die today?
On the morning before her 67th death, it is business as usual for Jesse Sullivan; meet with the mortician, counsel soon-to-be-dead clients, and have coffee while reading the latest regeneration theory. Jesse dies for a living, literally. As a Necronite, she is one of the populations rare 2% who can serve as a death replacement agent, dying so others don’t have to. Although each death is different the result is the same: a life is saved, and Jesse resurrects days later with sore muscles, new scars, and another hole in her memory. But when Jesse is murdered and becomes the sole suspect in a federal investigation, more that her freedom and sanity are at stake. She must catch the killer herself – or die trying.
That’s the premise behind the exciting novel by Kory M. Shrum, which is her first full length urban fantasy novel and the first entry into the Jesse Sullivan series of books. There’s a lot going on in this book that makes it a must read other than the fact that it’s a great urban fantasy novel with a unique concept.
Jesse Sullivan is an incredibly engaging character; if nothing else, she may be one of the first characters I have connected to as a person in fiction in quite a while. Jesse is sarcastic; she has an attitude and even in the face of imminent danger will still quip and joke with her would-be attacker. She definitely shares a lot of my own personality traits in the way that she interacts with people and how she presents herself to the world. The plot device of Necronites as well as taking the zombie genre and putting a new spin on it is also a huge draw to this wonderful piece of fiction.
In the book, instead of zombies being mindless gaggles of walking dead that has been seen over and over, it is dealt with more as a disorder where the person with it can in fact die, but then they are resurrected days or hours later depending on how they die. The American government uses those with the disorder to save people from death itself by having them ‘replace’ the person who is intended to die. The agencies involved can find out the relative time of someone’s death, not down to the hour but the day by using enhanced humans that are basically just incredibly strong psychics. However, the Church has used its own influence to try to turn the people against those with the disorder and are working to eliminate those with the gift from the Earth. While the Necronites cannot actually die by most means, there is a way to kill them permanently; if you decapitate them, they are unable to resurrect afterwards.
Even with that great setup, there is more going on here than just that. In some books, multiple goings-on could become muddied and lose their way over the course of the read but in Dying for a Living they are managed well and play into each other. In almost a Supernatural-style twist, Jesse starts seeing an angel who begins to follow her… all spoilers aside, all I can say is that it is a great twist and only serves the story even better rather than being a detriment to the progression of the plot.
The overall plot feels akin to a murder mystery, like a James Patterson novel meets Minority Report, but with the added flare of zombies. Jesse’s story goes from a small one to expanding her world to the point where she becomes more and responsible for more lives and their fates. The character development is great and you really care about what happens to the characters that are brought to the table. Beyond the fantastic main character of Jesse herself, there is her immediate circle of friends, Ally (Jesse’s assistant and potential love interest), Lane (Jesse’s “sort-of” boyfriend), and Brinkley (Jesse’s boss). The point is you really care about these characters, their unique world view, and so on. Another plus is that each character is differently written so it doesn’t seem like any of them are copies of another character.
This is a unique book that will grab you from the beginning right until the end and I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down. Even mixed in with the great plot, fantastic characters and brisk pace and the zombies (but don’t call them that), is so much humour and even references to pop culture. One quote made me howl with laughter; in a particularly tight point in the book for the characters, Kyra (one of Jesse and Ally’s mutual friends) states, “why does it always have to be movie quotes?”
This book is another that isn’t to be missed; it’ll have you on the edge of your seat waiting to read what happens to this great new writers characters right until the end. Another great bonus to the book is that the next entry in the series is being released September 2nd of this year so you won’t have to wait years to get your hands on Jesse’s next great adventure.
Dying for a Living by Kory M. Shrum is currently available everywhere; give it a read and be sure to let me know how much you liked it in the comments below.