Dueling with Hades: Denton Little's Deathdate vs. The Deathday Letter (review)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Title: Denton Little's Deathdate
Author: Lance Rubin
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Genre: YA
Source: Library
“Denton Little's Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that's tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.

Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend's hostile sister. Though he's not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton's long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters…. Suddenly Denton's life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.

Title: The Deathday Letter
Author: Shawn Hutchinson
Release Date: June 15, 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA
Source: Library
The clock is ticking...

Ollie can't be bothered to care about anything but girls until he gets his Deathday Letter and learns he's going to die in twenty-four hours. Bummer.

Ollie does what he does best: nothing. Then his best friend convinces him to live a little, and go after Ronnie, the girl who recently trampled his about-to-expire heart. Ollie turns to carloads of pudding and over-the-top declarations, but even playing the death card doesn't work. All he wants is to set things right with the girl of his dreams. It's now or never...”

My Review

Tracy: Denton Little's Deathdate and The Deathday Letter share the same unique idea. What would a teenage boy do on the day they know they're going to die? Letter's Ollie just wants to have a completely normal day. He gets the letter informing him that he has less than 24 hours to live and still heads off to school. He's an easy character to love. Sure he makes a few mistakes, especially in regards to his love interest, Ronnie, the Joey Potteresk girl next door, but overall he's a great character. I liked his sense of humor and how he showed how much he cared about his family and friends. It's been a few years since I've read The Deathday Letter but it still haunts me. There are some wonderfully funny parts to it and also some moving and heartbreaking bits as well.

Denton Little's Deathdate has a slight twist on the same idea. Instead of getting 24 hour notice like Ollie, Denton has known the date he's going to die his whole life. Because of this, the whole world building is a bit different. People in this world have prom like parties on the day before they die and then they go home to just... wait to die while their whole family and friends sit with them. It's strange and a bit harder to believe than The Deathday Letter. It certainly raised more questions for me though. How do you raise a child that you know on the day they're born will die at seventeen? How are you motivated to go to school or do anything knowing that you won't get to do anything with your schooling? Won't people just go crazy doing whatever the hell they want? Who the heck would sign up to find out (there's an option not to find out your death date)? Still, I liked Denton. He's very similar to Ollie in the sense that they're both average kids who have a "secret" love interests, nerdy best friends, and great sarcastic sense of humors. Denton's a little bit more tightly wound than Ollie and surprisingly -even though he's prepared for it his whole life- less accepting about his impending death. He also has a bit more issues with his family than Ollie. His mother died giving birth to him and his older brother has always kept his distance. Even his father is a little unemotional about the whole thing. His step mother is fantastic though.Tied to his family is a whole mystery aspect that's fun. Denton starts to question the whole process. Ollie never asks "why" or tries to learn the big picture of it all.

Tisha: Both Denton Little's Deathdate and The Deathday Letter start out with similar premises: Both worlds are exactly like our own except for one thing: everyone knows the day of their death. In Denton Little's Deathdate, the storyline takes a much more mystery tone than The Deathday Letter. For the most part, The Deathday Letter stays true to it's premise. In Denton Little's Deathdate, because Denton only knows the day in which he will die, but not when, he's distracted by all the "almosts" and the formalities in which his society forms deathdates. In contrast, Ollie in The Deathday Letter knows the time in which he will die so he is able to live the day to its fullest potential, which is interesting and funny because although Denton has lived his entire life knowing the day of his death, it's Ollie who uses the information most. As characters Denton and Ollie are pretty similar. They both have a super close best friend and a girl who they could have had something with (coincidentally both named Veronica). I loved both families and given the plot both authors tried to keep the story as light as possible.

Words To Live By

"I was always afraid of the future. The future was something that would happen later. Mostly I just wanted to get through the day without drooling on myself." - The Deathday Letter


Tracy: Overall, I liked both books. The premise is interesting and both characters are fantastic. However, as I mentioned The Deathday Letter still haunts me. A week or two later, I'd already forgotten that I read Denton Little's Deathdate. Still, Denton Little's Deathdate has a sequel coming out hopefully in the near future that I'm eagerly looking forward to reading. I also like the mystery, big picture aspect to Denton Little's Deathdate.

Tisha: In the end Hutchinson went for an emotional affect, while Rubin went for a mystery and comedic feel, which is why I think I like The Deathday Letter better because it resonated long after I finished the book. Still I'm looking forward to where Rubin takes the Denton series.
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As an INFJ Tisha doesn’t like she obsesses. Luckily, she has television, film, and books to keep her busy. Although YA is her favorite, she loves all types of books especially historical fiction. This resident Gryffindor also enjoys traveling and seeing where her wanderlusting nature will take her. Twitter


  1. I had no idea about The Deathday Letter! I did read (and really love!) Denton Little's Deathdate, and I totally agree that the tone was more of a fun, mysterious tone. I enjoyed it, because it felt so different than other things I'd been reading. Now I have to check out The Deathday Letter! Fabulous reviews and comparisons!

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

  2. Thank you so much! Agreed, both great books and I love all the attention Denton Little's Deathdate has been getting, but we just wanted to bring some light on to The Deathday Letter too because it's just as good!

  3. I hope you enjoy The Deathday Letter :) See you at BEA!


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