The current reality is that any book in which the main character is under 21 must be YA-- for Young Adult--teenagers, essentially. Ari Berk’s main character, Silas Umber, has just left high school, so obviously, Death Watch must be for kids, and most reviewers have treated it as such. But I have to tell you that while the book isn’t inappropriate for the YA audience, it’s not especially directed at them. Berk has written the book he wanted to write not thinking about a target audience, and it just so happens the hero is a youth. But what we have here is a kind of coming of age novel; you almost have to have come of age before most of it will be much more than a ghost story. Silas has to come to terms both with death and with life; his journey will resonate most, I think, with those who have faced both and recognize the stages.
This is a story to savor. The pacing is patient; some call it slow, but you need to go slow to see everything there is to see. The setting is familiar, and deeply strange. The language is handsome.
“...gravestones that jutted up like crooked teeth from the mossy, flesh-fed earth.”
“And here is the Watch’s most obvious danger: those who live too much in the past may come to share perdition with the dead, who are themselves lost to the present.”
“He fell from himself into sleep, and his name became the name of the night and the silent, distant stars blinking like a million watching eyes.”
By turns wistful, wise, and intensely spooky, this is not your average ghost story.
Yes, it’s not only appropriate for adult readers, I recommend it.
Goodreads | Maggie Secara (Sherman Oaks, CA)'s review of Death Watch:
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