Book Review: A Time to Die {Nadine Brandes}

by - 8:30 AM

We are gathered here today to announce the startling fact that Mary Horton hasn't done a book review in five months. *cue strangled gasps*

YES, IT'S TRUE. It's been an embarrassing amount of time since I last reviewed a book. *hides in shame* I know you guys all love when I review books, right? (Hint: the answer is "absolutely yes, master bookdragon.") Well, thankfully, I'm a benevolent ruler and will bestow another one upon my subjects.  ;D

Here's the summary so you actually know what I'm going to be reviewing.


How would you live if you knew the day you'd die?

Parvin Blackwater has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. 

In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall -- her people's death sentence. 

What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out. (source)


Intriguing, am I right? O_o I know it sucked me in.

Now...on to the review!


This is a rather tricky book to review. See, I really liked some aspects of the book, but...I didn't totally love it. 

I've come to the conclusion that dystopian is not my genre. It's just not. I've tried several different dystopians, but interestingly enough, they all earn about the same rating. I guess I just can never get into it? Maybe it's too depressing for me, I dunno. :P Though I will say that for a dystopian book, A Time to Die was much less dismal than others. In fact, I would argue that it actually focuses a LOT on hope. Which is awesome! Props to the author for that!

ANYWHOZENS. I'm already rambling. *forces train of thought back onto the tracks*

// Things I Liked //

The premise of this book is extremely inventive. Oh, and it's FULL of all kinds of creative things! I don't want to spoil anything but there's a certain person named Wilbur who makes suits...suffice to say, the suits are pretty awesome, and I need them in my life. There are tightropes and cool futuristic technological things (I'm so descriptive :P) and just LOTS OF CREATIVITY. *thumbs up*

Another thing I liked about this book was the raw emotion. I absolutely love it when the author makes you feel what the characters feel. It's a sign of an amazing writer. Whenever Parvin was struggling emotionally, physically, or spiritually, I ached for her. This book made me feel. (It also crushed my heart like FIFTY GAZILLION TIMES BUT WHO'S COUNTING </3) And on the topic of characters...

I REALLY LIKED THE MAIN CHARACTER. That's always a good thing. Now, she's not my favorite character, per se, but I loved the realism that she has. Honestly, she reminded me a lot of myself in many ways. Physically unable to pull herself up a rope--check. Uses tildes--check. (We're very much alike. XD) 

I loved following along with Parvin's journey. Seeing how she matured in her faith and gained more purpose was so beautiful. Really, the themes of this book are all great. The importance of using our time wisely, surrendering our life to God, and fighting for what we believe really cuts to the heart, challenging each and every reader who picks up this book. It's always refreshing to see books that stimulate our brains and make us think about important truths.

Also...I. NEED. MORE. HAWKE. <3 He is honestly the best. End of story.

Okay, now on to my dislikes. :/

// Things I Didn't Like //

This book was written in first person present tense. This is in NO way the fault of the writer--I'm sure there are lots of people who like present tense. However, I am not one of them. I had no idea it was written in that tense before I picked it up. So that was a bit of a bummer. (Although I will admit that I kind of got used to it after a while. It just wasn't my favorite.) I know this may sound like a shallow reason, but I honestly just can't get into a book as much when it's written in a tense I feel is awkward.

I also never really liked a lot of the characters. YES, I KNOW I JUST SAID I LIKED PARVIN AND HAWKE. But I reallllllllly didn't like a lot of characters in this book. I waver between loathing/loving Jude. He actually made me kind of want to throw my tablet across the room more than once. XD Honestly, the only two characters I liked a lot were Parvin and Hawke. *shrugs*

The action also tended to be...well, nonexistent. They seemed to spend the majority of the book wandering around or arguing. :P I kept waiting for exciting things to happen--and yes, they did sometimes--but I felt like every time the action would get going, it would quickly be squashed by some huge setback. Thankfully, I was invested enough in the plot and main character (and Hawke <3) that I wanted to keep reading. ^_^

There was also a certain romance I DID NOT APPROVE OF AT ALL. Nooo thank you.

Content wise, this book contains a little bit of violence and such. I maaaay have cringed during some of the scenes. ;) There is also some romance, though the author keeps it all clean. So I would probably recommend this to teens around the age of 13, just for some of the violence. 

Overall, I did like this book! There just were quite a few things I didn't care for. :/ Hopefully this didn't come off as too scathing a review at the end...eheh. :P I just wanted to be honest about the book since Miss Brandes herself was generous enough to give me a free review copy! (Thanks loads, Nadine! :D) 

Final Consensus: 3 Stars

So did I enjoy this book? Yes, I did. Will I be picking up the second book? ABSOLUTELY YES. I'm kind of emotionally invested now. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT ELSE HAPPENS. *grabby hands*

// The Author //

I am an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. I never received my Hogwarts letter, but rest assured I’m no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family-size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. I write about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. My dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged me to pursue shalom, which is now my favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When I’m not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, me and my knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.

// Linklings //

~ Order book one, two, or pre-order book three (which comes out October 14).

~ Get book swag when you pre-order A Time to Rise! (The swag looks pretty cool, just sayin.')

~ Those of you who have Facebook can party it up with Miss Brandes herself! Woohoo! 

~ Finally, you can catch up with Nadine at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She's an awesome peep. :D

What say you, dragonlings? Have you read this book? Are you interested in reading it? (C'mon, you really should. Everyone and their neighbor loves it so I'm really just the odd cookie here. XD) GIMME ALL YOUR THOUGHTS.

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  1. Aw, poor Mary doesn't like dystopian. *is not sure how this is possible*. To each their own XD.

    'Physically unable to pull herself up a rope' - OH YES. That's me too XD.

    ~ Savannah

    1. Sorryyyy. D: I guess I just think it's too depressing, generally. *shrugs*

      HA, YES. I am basically as athletic as a tablecloth.

      ...No clue how that comparison works, but just go with it. XD

  2. Wonderful review, Mary!!
    This sounds like a gooood book...I seriously need to get my hands on it. Like, soon.
    Oh, before you give up on dystopian entirely *grins*, you should read 'Counted Worthy' by Leah Good! Have you ever read it? It IS dystopian, but you should still read it!! Annnd (I'm not expanding upon this because spoilers) at the end of the book...BIG FEELS. Seriously, big feels.
    Great post, girl!

    1. Thanks, Ariel! :D

      You really should! I must just be really weird for not caring for it that much.

      Ooh, I haven't read that before! I miiiight try it out sometime, but my TBR is massive probably won't be any time soon. ;D

      Aw, thank you again, Ariel! <3

  3. Aww, too bad. :( I on the other hand LOVE 1st P, PT - and I am really intrigued by futuristic stuff. But this was probably the only dystopian I have ever loved. (nada to Divergent, pretty sure I got depression after that. xD)

    I'm sad that you didn't like it very much! Too bad, but I guess everyone is different.


    1. Oh, you are? That's cool! I wish I liked first person present tense but...I just don't. D: Same for dystopian. Not a fan.

      ME TOO. :'( I mean, I DID like it; but I honestly was disappointed by it. Especially since literally EVERYONE else who's read it thinks it's amazing.

      ACK, I LOVE SOLOMON. I NEED MORE OF HIM. *clambers for next book*


  4. *FLAILS HAPPILY* Book review by Maryyyy!!!! :D

    EEK. I've been meaning to read this book for, like, YEARS. It's just a shame a haven't yet! I actually adore dystopian. But I toootally get it not being for everyone. It can be so dark and depressing. o.o

    That's a bummer it's in first person present tense. Definitely not my favorite either. :/ I usually do get used to it after the first few pages though. Still, I'd much prefer past tense! (And third person buuut that may just be me. Heh.)

    I loved your honest review! YOU SHOULD DO MORE BOOK REVIEWS. They're great! Thank you so much for sharing. I WILL read this one day, I WILL.

    1. *griiins* ACK, THANK YOU!!! :D

      The terrifying TBR, am I right? You REALLY should read this book, though! I feel like you would enjoy it a lot more than I did. ^_^

      YOU UNDERSTAND. I honestly freaked out a little internally when I saw what tense it was in. XD Fortunately, I did get used to it, but I'd much prefer past tense. (Me too! I like third person a little better, although I don't have much of a problem with first person.)

      D'awww, thank you, dear! AHHH, MAYBE I WILL. I miiiight do one on Paper Crowns or something. We shall see. ;D

  5. Yay, you did the review!! <3 <3

    I'd be curious to see what you thought of Willow. I ended up really liking her, even though there didn't' seem to be much to her at first :) I can completely understand not liking Jude, but I ... hehe, I liked him. It took a while, but I finally decided that he was worth getting emotionally invested in (oops) and it was really because of his sincerity. TRYING TO AVOID SPOILERS HERE! When he came back and found Parvin again, he felt SO bad :'( And he apologized like a true gentleman ... even if it was for being a jerk. I really loved that. SEMI SPOILER ALERT! I really liked the relationship he had with Parvin because he felt responsible for her and even with weeks alone together, nothing ever really happened. They had each other's companionship and that was enough :) END OF SEMI SPOILER.

    *cough* Anyway. I'm done. I can completely understand why you gave this the review you did. No hard feeling at all :) I can't wait to read book #2 either! It says a lot about Nadine's skill, I think, to still keep everyone reading no matter the rating they give! :D

    1. Yup! ^_^ I still need to comment on yours.

      Um...well, I don't have much of an opinion on Willow. She just...didn't seem all that interesting to me. I dunno. Kind of a "filler" character, in my opinion. *shrugs* Yeah, I vacillated between liking and disliking Jude, but I think I ultimately decided that I didn't like him. XD But you made some great points! It's just...well, I reallllly didn't like him that much. *hides* (Or the romance. I never could see them together.)

      Thanks so much, Abi! I was hoping it didn't come across as extremely narrow-minded or snobbish or anything. :P You're so right! Despite all my qualms about the book, I DO want to continue the series and find out what happens. :)

  6. Heyo.
    Okay I see now.
    Hahahaha okay you might not want to beta my dystopian novel when the opportunity arises since it's well dystopian (with hope but much depressing things in the first half) and its first person present tense xD
    But hey not everyone enjoys it. BUT IF YOU HAVENT ALREADY (I thought you read the others but my brain is about as reliable as a potato?) GO READ THEM it ends sooooooo good.

    1. *waves*

      Yeah, I guess I just haven't really encountered any dystopian novels I like so far...although I'm thinking of trying another one soon? (And Some Kind of Happiness was the only book so far I liked that was in first person present tense. XD) BUT that being said, I did looooove the snippets you shared on your blog from Nano...were those from your dystopian novel?

      Oh, I want to get to the rest of the series at some point! I'm intrigued now. :D (And don't worry, my brain is a half-baked potato at the moment, too. ;P)


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