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Death: the High Cost of Living [Turtleback]

Neil Gaiman
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

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Turtleback, September 2002 --  
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Book Description

September 2002 Death
Teenager Sexton Furnival is contemplating suicide when he is befriended by death. Death herself is being hunted by evil forces which prey on her new vulnerability now that she is human. Meanwhile, Mad Hettie threatens to kill Death's suicidal friend if Death won't help her find her heart.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From Publishers Weekly

The High Cost of Living is a continuation of Harvey Award-winning fantasy writer Gaiman's series detailing the cosmic duties of a loose family of seven immortals. Not quite Gods, they embody realms of psychic experience: Dream, Desire, Despair, Destiny, Delirium, Destruction and Gaiman's very popular character, Death. Reaper, yes; but Death's not very grim as she goes about her business visiting the just-about-to-die and ushering them into their new existence. In this story she meets Sexton, a teenager contemplating suicide, and they end up searching New York City to find a witch's heart (the old hag hid it centuries ago, it's a witch tradition), so the old girl can hide it again. Up pops the Eremite, an evil wizard type, out to steal Death's mysterious necklace, who makes the usual threats against life and limb. Gaiman has created a character sweetly at odds with her modbid duties; dressed like a Satanic rocker, she's as pretty as a cheerleader and even more upbeat. While Gaiman brings a gritty urban contemporaneity to the fantasy genre, the story also suffers from a TV script-like sensibility--danger-defying quips, the good-hearted overweight black neighbor, melodramatic villain. Nevertheless the combination of wry mystic immortal and MTV slacker produces an engaging chemistry. Top-notch production, and although the illustration is a bit stiff, it's stylishly rendered and very nicely colored. The introduction is by pop singer Tori Amos.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could Death really be this bovinely mindless? April 18 2004
The story begins in an alley where Mad Hattie is searching for her heart, and quickly moves to an urban apartment where fifteen year old Sexton Furnival lives with his "slightly off" mother Sylvia, an aging Earth Mother type.
Sexton is sitting at his computer typing out his suicide note when his mother obliviously sends him out for the afternoon because she has taken the day off to spring clean their apartment. When he literally falls into a garbage dump, he meets a cute and saucy Goth girl named Didi, not knowing that she is Death walking in flesh for a day. She takes Sexton back to her apartment to mend her torn jeans, and now the story begins its long slide downhill.
Mad Hattie confronts Death and threatens to cut off Sexton's nose if Didi (Death) does not go out to find her missing heart. So Didi and Sexton set off into the city at night, to have some fun and search for Mad Hattie's heart. And unexplained thread unravels as Didi (Death) continually is offered free goods by kind people. I didn't get it, and Gaimen never explained it. They go into a "hot" club (for free), and once inside with them, we are subjected to some extremely cheesy lyrics sung by lesbian acoustical guitarist.
Outside the club, a strange blind man and his minion do unexplained things to find Didi in the club, and when the minion lures them out, Death follows as bovinely as a cow does into the slaughtering pens. It gets worse. Once Sexton and Didi are trapped in the cellar, the story becomes even more aimless, filled with pointless conversations which all build up to a ridiculous and anticlimactic ending.
For me, Death lost her charm as Didi when she became so naively helpless and stupifyingly frivolous in her actions and speech.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent graphic novel. Aug. 27 2002
By Cas
I used to read "Sandman", in its early days. I thought Death was a pretty cool character (if a trifle over-imitated by Gothling chicks). There are several incarnations of Death as imagined by people -- one of them is the well-known "skeletal guy with the scythe". Another is the "Gay Deceiver", which is more how I see this Death -- handsome, personable, approachable. Gaiman, who has shown himself to have an exquisite handling of leitmotifs, does his usual good job here. The story is well-told, with few false notes.
The story is simple and does not assume any previous knowledge of "Sandman". Didi, a Gothling, saves the teenaged Sexton's life when he figures out at the last second that he really doesn't want to die. Though Didi's existence is quite explainable (she has neighbors who know her, and photos of her family in her apartment), she claims to be only a few hours old -- and she says she is the incarnation of Death. Sexton, a cynical grunger, doesn't believe it at all, but he ends up hanging around anyway. Didi has a lust for life and all sensations it holds, from the good taste of food to the pleasure of "a really good party". She also has major problems in the form of a few supernatural folks looking for her, including a creepy old mage looking for her ankh necklace (thinking that she puts her power into it, like Dream did his toys), and a British bag lady who's lost her heart and thinks Didi can find it. After 24 hours, Didi dies, having changed Sexton's outlook permanently. He never knows if she is what she claimed.
It is a sweet story, with none of the superhero bombast pervading comics today. Death has a nice day out and shows a very human side of her personality. When she dies, she whispers "No. Please." She doesn't want to die.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Death is a Sweetheart Dec 30 2001
First off, I very rarely read American\British comic books, I tend to read Japanese manga, so it is really something for me to be reading this book in the first place. Second I have not read The Sandman series, so my entire knowledge of the series is picked up from conversations and articles. However, let me say that I love the two death books. This volume tells the story of Sexton Furnival, a 16 year old boy who has decided to kill himself. Whether he is really serious about killing himself, or if he is just mad at the world is left up for the reader to decide. On the day he decides to go kill himself, Sexton goes to a garbage dump, and the trash he was standing on collapses and his legs are caught beneath the debris. Luckily for him a cute goth girl comes along and helps him. She says her name is Didi. Didi of course is Dream's older sister Death. Death is a bubbly petite thing who decides to take Sexton out for a night on the town. They run into some interesting characters, including a 250 year old witch, a crazed blind man who has dark magical powers, a lesbian chef whose girlfriend is performing her first gig that night. Really good stuff. Death will touch your heart. Her over all sweetness might be corny at sometimes, but it will win you over in the end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Death Takes a (Working) Holiday April 23 2000
Meet Sexton Furnival. Sexton is a well-spoken, intelligent lad, whose best friend is the mute, wheelchair-bound kid in the apartment down the corridor from he and his mother's (an unfortunately not quite burned-out hippie) and a dead ringer for Kurt Cobain (both physically and in attitude). Here's what Sexton isn't: in love with anyone, or hating anyone. In other words, his life ain't feeling particularly Hollywood right now. He doesn't feel the point to Life. So, in typical short-sighted 90's-youth fashion, he's going to take his own life. In a garbage dump, of all places. And for his trouble, he gets pinned under a fridge.
Enter his savior, a young gal by the name of Didi, who we (being the faithful fans of Gaiman's Sandman that I know we all are) instantly recognize as the one and only Death of the Endless, looking slightly less pale, more chipper (if that's possible) and a little younger (about 16) than usual. She's spending her one day-per-century as an orphaned
girl living alone in NYC. Sexton takes the information in stride. ("Uh... right. So. I suppose you must do a lot of drugs.")
Problems ensue, of course. Mad Hettie, who has popped up in Sandman (Preludes & Nocturnes, for the uninitiated), holds Sexton at gunpoint (well... pointy broken wine bottlepoint), demanding that Didi go off and fetch her heart for her. She's hidden it, you see, and forgotten where she left it. And a chap by the name of "The Eremite" is after Death's signature ankh she wears about her neck.
Here's what Death: The High Cost of Living isn't:
Plot-heavy. All the better for it. Both plots sort of fizzle, but in good ways.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality industrial-strength, sub-plots by the pound
Neil Gaiman truly is the consummate storyteller able to weave first-class storylines and memorable characters seemingly at the drop of a hat. Read more
Published on March 10 2004 by Sibelius
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the usual Sandman-esque story
This story follows Death after she rescues a teenage boy with a strange name. A very old homeless lady tells Death to find the heart she hid, but can't remember where it was... Read more
Published on June 30 2003 by Eryn
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not great
Death is the most lovable character of the Endless and this book just helps flesh that aspect out some more. Yet it isn't quite as good as it could've been. Read more
Published on Dec 16 2002 by Mitch Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect introduction and a great, great read
It's been said so many times in so many different introductions and reviews, but it remains true: Neil Gaiman is the king of dreams. Read more
Published on Oct. 11 2002 by Ben Yates
2.0 out of 5 stars Snooze fest
I love a lot of Gaiman's stuff, but this is really bad. No action at all, almost no "magic", a completely unlikable supporting character, and supposedly touching ending. Read more
Published on April 27 2002 by Shane Tiernan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great 1st Taste of Neil Gaimen's "Sandman" Series
While not an integral part of the series, "Death: The High Cost of Living" is a peripheral story that serves as a great introduction. Read more
Published on March 30 2002 by nemoistic
5.0 out of 5 stars I never knew Death could be so amazing.
Literally, I just finished reading this. I was never so aware of how a person, a character, anyone could be so cheerful and yet so level headed. And to top that she's dead cool. Read more
Published on Dec 19 2001 by "janey908"
4.0 out of 5 stars " I'm Death. "
Heh. Making the embodiment of death a slightly crazy and sweet Goth chick; the only thing that equals here is Pratchett's Death. (Who wants to see a crossover? Read more
Published on Oct. 29 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Ah, sweet mystery of death, at last I've found you
Much as I love this comic, I find (after reading the other posted reviews on Amazon.com, as well as letters published during the series' initial publication) that most of the... Read more
Published on March 16 2001 by john salonia
5.0 out of 5 stars Ah, Sweet Death!
If I could, I would give this book as many stars as are known to human astornomy! Death, the sweet little goth sister of Morpheus, here shines on her own. Read more
Published on Dec 2 2000 by Amazon Customer
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