- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Harlequin Teen; Reprint edition (Sept. 27 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0373210329
- ISBN-13: 978-0373210329
- Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2.2 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 272 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #989,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
If I Die Paperback – Sep 20 2011
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About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent loves good chocolate, comfortable jeans, and serial commas. She’s older than she looks and younger than she feels, but is convinced that for every day she spends writing, one more day will be added to her lifespan. Now absorbed in the dark, tangled loyalties of her UNBOUND world, as well as the travails of a teenage banshee in her SOUL SCREAMERS world, Rachel can be found online at www.rachelvincent.com or urbanfantasy.blogspot.com.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I used to think death was the worst thing that could happen to a person. I also used to think it was the last thing that could happen. But if I've learned anything from surrounding myself with reapers, and living nightmares, and my fellow bean sidhes, it's this: I was wrong on both counts
"What are you doing here before the warning bell?" I asked, sliding into my seat in first period algebra II with four minutes to spare. "Isn't that one of the signs of an impending apocalypse?"
"If so, this is how I want to go out." Emma Marshall sighed, digging the textbook from the bag on her lap. "Enjoying the view."
I followed my best friend's gaze to the front of the class, where Mr. Beckhired in the wake of Mr. Wesner's untimely demisewas writing math problems on the white board with green ink. His numbers were blockish and completely vertical; he had the best handwriting of any teacher at Eastlake. But Emma's focus was several feet below his numbers, where the jeans encouraged by the new "Spirit Fridays" policy proved that Mr. Beck was much more dedicated to physical fitness than the average high school faculty member.
"And I suppose your sudden interest in math is purely academic, right?"
Her grin widened as she set the book on her desk, and it fell open to the place marked with a fat, purple-print emery board. "I don't know if 'pure' is totally accurate, but I haven't figured out how to entirely avoid academia in the school setting. I think the most we can hope for is something pretty to look at, to distract us from the inherent pain of the educational process."
I laughed. "Spoken like a true underachiever."
Emma could have been a straight-A student, but she was satisfied coasting by on effortless Bs, except in French and math, the only subjects that didn't seem to come naturally for her. And the hot new math teacher had done nothing to improve her grades. Thanks to the aesthetic distraction, she was less inclined than ever to pay attention to what was written on the board and in the book.
Not that I could blame her. Mr. Beck was undeniably yummy, from his dark, tousled hair to his bright green eyes and the scuffed sneakers he always wore, even with slacks.
"He's only twenty-two," Em said, when she caught me looking. "Less than a year out of college. I bet this is his first teaching job."
"How do you know that?" I asked, as Mr. Beck set his marker down and dug through his desk drawer for something.
"Heard it from Danica Sussman. He's been tutoring her after school, to keep her eligible for softball."
"Where is Danica?" I asked, on the tail end of the late bell. She'd been out sick for a couple of days, but she'd never missed on a game day beforeDanica was supposed to pitch that afternoon.
"Still sick, I guess," Em whispered, as Mr. Beck started taking roll. She unfolded a half-blank sheet of notebook paper. "Did you do the homework?"
I rolled my eyes and pulled out my own work. "What happened to your new interest in math?"
"It doesn't extend to homework."
"Kaylee Cavanaugh?" Mr. Beck called from the front of the room, and I glanced up, startled, certain we'd been caught cheating. But Beck was just standing there with his roll book in hand, waiting for my answer.
"Oh. Here," I said, and he'd called three more names when the door opened and Danica Sussman stepped into the classroom. She was pale, except for dark patches beneath her eyes, which she hadn't even tried to cover.
"Danica, are you okay?" Beck asked, as she crossed toward the front of the room, a blue late slip in hand.
"I'm fine." She handed him the slip, but he balled it up in one fist and dropped it into the trash can next to his desk.
"I haven't called your name yet, so you're not really late," he said, frowning, like he wasn't convinced by her answer.
"Thanks, Mr. B." But when she headed toward her desk, Danica had one hand pressed to her stomach, her face scrunched up in obvious pain.
Halfway through class, as Emma scrambled to finish her homework without ever taking her focus from Mr. Beck's face, a familiar, sharp pain began to scratch at the back of my throat.
No! My heart beat so hard I practically shook in my chair. It couldn't be happening again. Not at school. Not just six weeks after the loss of three teachers in a two-day span. My winter had felt like a series of deaths connected only by my advanced knowledge of them. I'd been hoping for a spring reprieve.
But a bean sidhe's wail is never wrong. When someone near me is about to die, an overwhelming urge to screamto cry out to his soulconsumes me. And the scream clawing its way up my throat at that very moment could only mean one thing.
I clenched my teeth so tight my jaws ached, denying the scream an exit. My hands gripped the sides of my desk, muscles so tense I accidentally pulled it back an inch, and Emma glanced up when she heard it squeal on the dingy linoleum tile.
She took one look at my face and frowned. Again? she mouthed, and when I could only nod, her frown deepened. Emma had seen me resist screaming for someone's soul often enough to recognize the symptoms. At first it had freaked her out, and a large part of me wished it still did. I didn't like how accustomed she was becoming to the cocoon of death that seemed to surround me.
Yet there were definite advantages to having a best friend in the know. Like the fact that she didn't panic as she watched my gaze travel over my classmates, waiting for the dark aura to materialize around someone and show me who was about to die. But I saw no aura, and the scream remained a steady, painful pressure at the back of my throatfairly easily stoppered, since I knew what I was doingas if the soon-to-be-deceased and I weren't actually in the same room. That thought made me relax enough that I raised my hand to be excused.
Mr. Beck started to nod in my direction, but before he could, Danica Sussman slid right out of her chair and onto the floor. Unconscious.
The entire class gasped, and chairs squealed against the floor as people stood for a better view. I was so surprised my mouth almost fell open, which would have released my painfully shrill shriek into the school.
Mr. Beck stared at Danica, blinking in shock and confusion.
Was it her? Was Danica about to die? If so, why wasn't my urge to scream getting any stronger?
Mr. Beck rushed down the aisle, but before he got there, Chelsea Simms dropped onto the floor and stuck her hand in front of Danica's face, an inch from her nose. "She's still breathing " Chelsea sat back and glanced over our fallen classmate, obviously looking for an injury. Then she gasped again, sharper than before. "Shit, she's bleeding!" Chelsea scrambled backward on her knees and bumped her shoulder on the nearest desk, as shocked whispers echoed across the room.
Mr. Beck knelt beside Danica, features tense with worry. "Chelsea, call the office from the phone on my desk. Just dial nine." When Chelsea stood, I saw what everyone else had already reacted to: the pool of blood spreading beneath Danica's thighs.
That's when the scream hit me full force. While everyone else whispered and stared, gathering around our fallen classmate until Mr. Beck ordered them back, I sat stiff in my chair, gripping the sides of my desk again, swallowing compulsively to fight back the scream that was scalding me from the inside out.
But Danica was still breathing. I could see her chest rising between the shoulders of two basketball players standing in the aisle. Her breathing wasn't even labored. But the strength of the scream within me said that someone was going to die any minute. If it wasn't Danica, who was it?
"You okay?" Emma asked, leaning close to me, eyes wide, forehead furrowed. "Is it her?"
I could only shrug. The only way I know how to check was.
I let a thin thread of the scream trail from my lips, an emaciated sound so soft no one else heard it over the steady, stunned buzz of the gathered spectators. But it was enough. With that sound calling out to the soul, I would be able to see it when it left Danica's body. Assuming she was the one about to die.
But the insubstantial form hovering over Danica Sussman was like no soul I'd ever seen. Usually, a soul's appearancemerely its representation in the physical worldmimicked its owner's size, at least. But this soul was tiny. No bigger than my fist, and irregular in shape. And Danica's breathing had not slowed.
And that's when I understood. Danica wasn't dying. She was losing her unborn child.
"I don't think I can eat today." Emma stirred a paper bowl of tomato soup with a plastic spoon. "This just isn't in good taste."
I cracked open my soda lid without glancing at her lunch, for fear I'd be sick at the sight. "I'm pretty sure they plan the menu months in advance." But that was little solace after what we'd seen that morning. Somehow, even after all the death I'd both witnessed and heralded, I'd never even considered the possibility of a miscarriage triggering my instinct to wail for a yet-unborn soul. The usual helplessness, frustration and horror that accompanied any death for me were magnified almost beyond my own comprehension. This was a baby. A child who would never be. And I didn't know how to deal with that.
"It does look pretty gory, though," Sabine insisted from across the table, ignoring her own tray as the spring breeze blew long black hair into her face. She tucked the stray strands back, exposing a mismatched set of silver hoops in her upper ear. "So is it true that Danica Sussman hemorrhaged all over the floor in first period?"
"Both true and gruesome." Em dropped her spoon and pushed her meal back as Nash settled onto the bench seat next to me with a cardboard tray of nachos. "I hope she's okay."
An ambulance had come for Danica, and though she was still unconscious, I was long past wailing for her baby by the time they wheeled her away on a stretcher. And I was the only one who knew for sure that she would livebut that a tiny, hidden part of her had already died.
"I hope so, too." Nash slid one arm around my waist and squeezed me, then dug into his chips, and I couldn't help wondering if we would have been able to save Danica's baby, if we'd both been there when it happened. As a male bean sidhe, Nash didn't wail for the souls of the dying. His gifts included Influencethe ability to compel people to do things just by speaking to themand the capacity to guide a disembodied soul. Together, we could reinstate a person's soul and save his or her lifebut only in exchange for someone else's. A life for a life. That's how it worked.
But I had no idea if it would work at all on an unborn child, without a fully formed body in which to reinstate the soul. Or if it would last, even if it did work. I mean, miscarriages happen for a reason, right? Because there's something wrong with the baby, or because the mother can't handle the stress. Or something like that. So really, a miscarriage is a blessing, right?
Or maybe I was just desperate to find a silver lining to go with the single darkest, most horrifying cloud of a death I'd ever witnessed.
"People are saying it was a miscarriage," Emma said softly, and I flinched when a guy in a green-and-white senior class shirt turned around on the bench behind her, his brown eyes shiny with unshed tears, face flushed with anger. Max Kramer was Danica's boyfriend of almost a year, and his pain and anger were so raw I felt like I was violating his privacy just by witnessing them.
"Well, people are wrong," he snapped, and Emma froze, obviously embarrassed, then turned to face him slowly.
"I'm sorry, Max. I didn't mean."
Max stood without letting her finish, towering over our entire table. "They're all wrong." He didn't raise his voice, but made no special effort to lower it either, so half the quad heard him when he continued. "Danica couldn't have been pregnant. We've never even done it. So find someone else to talk about. Or better yet, why don't you all just shut the hell up."
We stared after him as he stomped off toward the cafeteria doors, and one look at Emma told me she felt just as bad for him as I did.
"Poor fool," Sabine said, one of Nash's cheese-covered chips halfway to her mouth. "I think he really believes that." As a mara, Sabine could read people's fears and feed from the nightmares she wove for them while they slept. But even beyond her mara abilities, she had an uncanny ability to read people's expressions and body language. To my constant irritation.
"Of course he believes it." Emma would have taken any excuse to argue with the maraSabine had dragged her into the Netherworld six weeks earlier and almost sold her to a hellion, body and soul. But this time her anger was obviously about more than that; Em felt guilty for passing along what she'd heard in front of Max. "Just 'cause people are saying something doesn't make it true. My aunt had a miscarriage last year, and it looked nothing like that. There was hardly any blood. Mostly just some cramping."
Sabine shrugged, unfazed. "I'm no doctor, but if you ask me, she was pregnant, and the baby didn't belong to good ol' Max. But he obviously hasn't figured that out yet."
"Well, no one asked you," Emma insisted. "So mind your own business."
The mara frowned. "It's not like I was going to tell him!"
"Sabine." Nash half groaned.
Normally, I like it when he's irritated with her. Sabine was my boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, and she wasn't too happy about the "ex" part.
"She's right," I said, as softly as I could speak and still be heard at my own table.
"How do you ?" Emma asked, and I met her gaze reluctantly.
"Because I felt the baby die."
Top customer reviews
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Admittedly I had a bit of trouble getting into this book initially- I had two major complaints, one being that I found the writing to be quite flat, I couldn't connect to much of what was going on in the book because I wasn't feeling anything (ie. characters deaths, etc.)- the only times I didn't have a trouble connecting to the book were the cute moments between Kaylee and Tod (not unlike how those are the only moments that Kaylee truly FEELS anything). The other complaint I had of the beginning of the book was the kissing- I felt that there was far too much of it going on (which was the first time I have ever experienced that while reading a YA book- usually I am vying for more kissing in YA books, rather than less)- for the first couple of chapters all Kaylee and Tod did when they were together was make-out (on almost every page there was at least one reference to kissing). Why this bothered me was that I felt like they felt the need to make-out every five seconds to reiterate the fact that they were dating (ie. if we make-out lots we will convince everyone around us that we are in LURV). However, that complaint soon diminished as I realized that there was a reason behind it.
Complaints aside, one of my most favourite parts of this book was without a doubt the characters, their complexity, and development. As I am sure many have come to know through my (near constant) complaints of him (and referring to him as a douchenozzle on a number of occasion) I am not a Nash fan. In the slightest. Not even in the first book of the series before all of the shizz went down. That being said, I did start to like him a *bit* in this book (more so the end of the book when he started to get over his looking at Kaylee with puppy dog eyes). I think that where I disliked him as a boyfriend for Kaylee I can like him as a really close friend. Also, I really liked Sabine in this book, more so than I have in any other book- in showing her vulnerabilities in this book I found her to be much more real, genuine, and relateable. As for Tod? Well, my thinking of him being utterly swoon-worthy was only solidified in this book.
Another of my favourite parts of this book was the snark- I am ashamed to say that I had forgotten just how snarky and funny of an author Rachel Vincent is. Countless times while reading this book I found myself bursting out loud from what came out of the characters mouths- whether it be Tod, Sabine, Nash, or even Kaylee (yes, I am happy to say that Kaylee amped up on the snark in this book, as one of the characters said, death looks good on her).
All in all, while I don't know if this was a necessary addition to the series I did still find it quite entertaining. And despite my reservations I am looking forward to seeing what the seventh and final book in the series, "With All My Soul", has in store for us!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Rachel Vincent's Before I Wake, the most awaited sixth novel of the Soul Screamers series, is all that I hoped for and more!
I was terrified of this book. Yes, terrified. If I Die left us with a lovely happy ending, and I just knew that from then on only pain and suffering would come. Add to that Rachel Vincent's teasing statuses in Facebook about killing off people, important people, and I was shaking in my seat. But after reading it, I have to say that it wasn't so bad. Scratch that. It is that bad, with tons of heartache, people that die, and hell breaking loose but...Kaylee's courage keeps you going. It keeps you hoping for better things, and we get that.
In this book, we encounter a very different Kaylee. She snaps when pushed, feels nothing when left alone, and thinks that giving into her depression is so much better than fighting. Wait, what? Yep. Gone is our fierce heroine. She feels like things don't matter anymore because she's dead. But isn't that why she agreed to become an extractor because her family and friends mattered and she couldn't just leave them? Kaylee has lost sight of who she is, and when horrible things start happening she can't help but despair instead of fight back, because what's happening is her fault, consequences of the choices she made during If I Die.
This was one of the hardest parts to read, because I wanted her to be the badass heroine of the other books but I also understood why she was like this. The only bright thing in Kaylee's life it's her gorgeous, sweet, grim reaper of a boyfriend. Tod is there for her 100%, never letting her give up. He tells her she won't feel alive until she starts acting alive again, and boy does he show her how to live (Ch.11 was perfection). Tod and Kaylee have the best one-liners ever.
Of course, Kaylee and Tod are not the only reasons why I love Soul Screamers so much. The gang is back and trying to stay together despite their differences and personal issues. Emma is trying to keep up with them. At this point she's the only human in their group. Nash and Sabine have their own issues to solve, and it would all go smoother if Nash wasn't still hung up on Kay, but he is. He still hates Tod, but at least they can agree that Kaylee's safey comes first always. Sophie and Luca are the new additions to the team, and their adventure in Never to Sleep blends in with the events happening here. What I liked the most was that I saw them try to reconnect with each other. Nash and Tod working together to keep Kaylee safe, Sophie asking things Kaylee and trying to understand, Sabine and Kaylee being extra frank with each other (LOL). And seriously, they need to stick together is they ever want to defeat the forces of the Netherworld.
The ending was an avalanche of trouble that had me literally at the edge of my seat. I could not believe what was happening, and what eventually happened...!!! Yeah. I can't wait for With All My Soul, the last Soul Screamer's book. It'll be sad to read the end of this series, but that's what re-reads are for! And I'm sure I'll be re-reading these books, and other Rachel Vincent books, for years to come.
The story dives right into the plot, when Kaylee finds out she's gonna die in six days. That's just the beginning because in that time she has to 1) Find out wassup with the new teacher Mr.Beck, 2) Find out what/who she really wants before she dies, and 3) Try to make everyone safe before she leaves the world. Kaylee is such a noble character, wanting to use her last days of life helping others. She really is one of my favorite characters because of this.
Sadly, I can't say I'm as happy with some other characters. Mainly Nash, but also Sabine. I don't hate her, I just don't get her. I don't get why she has to be so cruel at times. And Nash, sweetie you might have stayed in my good graces only because Kaylee believed in you, but not anymore. So, I'm sorry Nash but you're officially on my black list. That being said...Ladies get your Team Tod cheering outfits and start stretching, because you're going to do cartwheels up and down your house. Seriously, the tension here was at an all time high with Kaylee finally paying attention to Tod's beautiful swirling blue eyes.
That ending! *dies* I have to admit, for a moment I doubted you Rachel. When you have Kaylee dying, and things going to hell all around I was seriously doubting it could ever be fixed. And that moment! Those of you who've read this know what moment I'm talking about! I almost put the book down in that moment. But Rachel, you came through beautifully. I couldn't have wished for more after an ending like that. But I do. Oh I do wish for more and it makes me cry tears of joy because this series isn't over yet!! So technically I'm getting my wish!
This book changes the series for the better. I am really looking forward to reading the last two books now. I was already pretty hooked because the story is unique, smartly written, and has some unconventional yet compelling characters. It also deals with some interesting, dark themes without being depressing. However, I felt like there needed to be a shift of direction and this book achieves that. Tod was a favorite from the start so I was disappointed when he didn't have a larger role at first, but that's no longer a problem. I love where the author went with his character in this book. I think readers of the previous books will be very happy with this one. Book 4 was an improvement on Book 3 (and I can't help but love Sabine), and this Book 5 is an improvement on Book 4. It's hard for a series to get better towards the end of its run but the Soul Screamers series has accomplished that.