Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Book Review: The Lighter Side of Life and Death


Sixteen-year-old Mason Rice is having the night of his life. He's just delivered an incredible performance in the school play, basked in celebratory afterglow vibes at the party of the year, and lost his virginity to one of his best friends—the gorgeous but previously unobtainable Kat Medina. His dreams are coming true, and the future looks golden.

Unfortunately, Kat sees things very differently. Crossing the friendship line was a big mistake, and all she wants is to forget it and move on, even if that means forgetting Mason altogether. What's a guy to do? Well, if you're Mason, you hang your hopes on the first attractive twenty-three-year-old you cross paths with. At first Mason wonders if he's imagining the chemistry . . . until Colette invites him over to her apartment. Suddenly Mason's living in a whole new world.


The premise if this book is what first caught my attention besides the title, luring me in with the older woman theme but without a large age gap. Only six years apart, Mason and Colette can still find some common ground, allowing one to mature and the other to air on the side of reckless abandon, creating an enduring dynamic. Though this relationship forms the primary basis of the plot, Mason’s interactions with his and family are also dominant, showing smoothly and efficiently both sides of his world after things begin to unravel on what he thought was the perfect night.

Mason is a very well rounded, developed character. Easy going and friendly, Mason gets along with most anyone and rolls with the punches smoothly for the most part. Though he does have his hang ups and his moments of frustration with a few outbursts mixed it, for the most part, Mason is able to take the high road and bow out of things gracefully. Martin has blended him masterfully, creating a very likeable character even in the moments where he is a jerk or leaning closer to immaturity. His reactions to things are very realistic for both the character she’s created and the age. He may be mature, but there is still a certain mindset and level of things he simply cannot comprehend in the same way a 23 year old would, or even a parent.

Colette, for the most part, is cast in a positive light predominantly as a result of the reader seeing things in Mason’s perspective. Where his best friend turned her back, Colette opens up to him despite her reservations. Where one sexual experience ended in hurt, another ignites him and creates a fire in him, even opening his eyes. There are several positive things that come out of Mason’s relationship with Colette, at least in his biased eyes, and Martin portrays this seamlessly.

This book portrays a mostly adult situation on a teenage level, including both sides of the scenario. Partly to keep the excitement going and because there was, of course, an inherent social taboo to the relationship, Mason keeps his interactions with Colette a secret. Though the premise is straight forward, an air of mystery lingers throughout while the reader questions if people will find out, if the relationship will work, and what will ultimately happen. I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the book, falling into the world built easily. Sex, of course, is a part of this story but the related scenes are don't tastefully and serve a point, showing Colette and Mason’s relationship as well as building Mason overall.

There were several ways this book could have played out and Martin chose a very sturdy path for it, leaving a lasting effect on the reader. Her ultimate ending is bittersweet and though there were a few small hold ups I did have, overall, this was a tremendous job on a scenario that blends the lines between adult and teenage. Mason’s actions are both shocking and understandable and he is certainly a memorable character. Martin’s writing is strong, showing strongly Mason’s frame of mind while still painting an overall picture of the events happening.

Source: ARC Received for review from author/publisher
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (May 25, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0375845887
ISBN-13: 978-0375845888

Author's Website
Author's Blog


  1. sounds like a interesting book. must add this to my pile.

  2. Nice review! This sounds interesting for sure.

  3. Hadn't heard of it before.. Now I'm adding it to my TBR pile.

  4. I've heard of this novel and I was intrigued by the relationship-with-an-older person scenario. I also like the title. Coincidentally I'll be WoWing this today. Mind if I link to your review?

  5. MissAttitude - I don't mind at all! Thanks for offering! Also be sure to check back on Monday for an interview with CK and a contest!

  6. I love this author and shall be reading this one for sure. Thanks for the amazing review! :D

  7. Ohman, this sounds awesome! Great review! An interesting concept. . .

  8. Thanks the post is now up with a link to your review!

    Ooo I'll be sure to stop by Monday.

  9. Hey, Kari, I haven't talked to you in so long! And you have a button!!! Remind me to grab it, okay? :)

    The premise of the book definitely sounds interesting, though I don't know if it would be one I would immediately check out because 6 years doesn't seem like THAT much to me. However, you mentioned that while Mason is mature, there are certain things you just don't really see due to age and regardless of experience, and I find that intriguing. Great review! :D

  10. I love the concept but 6 years doesn't make me blink at all so I will pass on this YA book.

    Another great review though.

  11. Hey Jenn!! Glad to see you around again! And to both you and Marce... six years isn't necessarily a lot, but someone in high school is also at a different place in their lives than someone that is out of college. It isn't as shocking as say, someone twice Mason's age, but at the same time- it is certainly something racier than another teenager. At least, that's how I saw it. At sixteen, Mason couldn't fully see all the consequences of such a relationship. Martin does a good job getting that idea across in this book.

  12. I've never read any of the author's books before, but she always seems to tackle some tough storylines. This sounds like something I'd like so I think I need to get it soon. Thanks for the review!