19 January 2013

Review: By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

Published: 5 January 2010 by Hyperion

Pages: 200 (hardcover)

Genre/s: YA, Realistic fiction

Source: Own library


Daelyn Rice is broken beyond repair, and after a string of botched suicide attempts, she’s determined to get her death right. She starts visiting a website for “completers”— www. through-the-light.com.

While she’s on the site, Daelyn blogs about her life, uncovering a history of bullying that goes back to kindergarten. When she’s not on the Web, Daelyn’s at her private school, where she’s known as the freak who doesn’t talk.

Then, a boy named Santana begins to sit with her after school while she’s waiting to for her parents to pick her up. Even though she’s made it clear that she wants to be left alone, Santana won’t give up. And it’s too late for Daelyn to be letting people into her life…isn’t it?

My Thoughts

By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead (abbreviated to BTYRT for ease of typing) was never going to be anything other than an intense, sad book. For some reason, I'm always drawn to tough books that pull at my emotions and have me glued to the pages, hoping that something better will happen for the characters, and BTYRT was no exception.

Bullying is something that many of us have experienced as children and teens, from schoolyard taunts through to actual physical abuse, and whilst reading BTYRT, Daelyn's story felt so very real, I wanted to grab all the people that had made her so miserable and shake them.  Interwoven with the bullying there are also struggles with body-image and an overwhelming need for acceptance.

Daelyn is so isolated, so lonely and so very bleak that it was impossible not to feel a huge sympathy for her.  The back-story gradually reveals itself, rather than having a huge information dump at once, which makes it all the more haunting and sad as fragments of her teen years come together to form a very disturbing, cruel picture.

Ms. Peters strikes the perfect balance of parental involvement, something often missing in YA books, without having them overshadow Daelyn's very private thoughts and actions.  Their actions portrayed an overwhelming love and concern for their daughter, but it was also easy to see where they had missed the signs of things going very wrong, despite everything they were doing to try and help her live a happier life.  

Santana was certainly a bright spot in BTYRT - his outlook on life was so very different to Daelyn's, and the gradual revealing of his own story perfectly juxtaposed with Daelyn's own journey through the past few years of her life.

The website that forms the backbone of the plot was a great catalyst for the story.  I won't say much about it for fear of spoiling it, but it is mysterious, disturbing and really pulls some of the underlying themes together.

This is an intense book, folks.  It's haunting, shocking and almost ethereal and Daelyn's story is one that isn't easily forgettable. A quick read but one that is very very worthwhile.

And if you're wondering why four stars instead of five?  Although I really liked this book, I didn't love the ending - it just didn't work for me, but it does fit the tone of the book.  Does that make sense?!


  1. I read this book several years ago and I agree. The ending frustrated me, but I felt that it fit the book.

  2. Wow this sounds so up my alley! I also love books that really brings out your emotions and issue books are the ones that affect me the most. Bullying is such a real and too common issue that I'm glad when authors write a book that makes a great story and could also potentially help teenagers who are going through similar things. I'm also super curious about this website in the book. Great review, love!

  3. I've only read a few heavy YA books and to be honest I'm always reluctant to do so since reading is my 'haven' but I really love books that pull on emotions like this. I'll have to keep an eye out for this one in the library, great review!

  4. I have mad respect for authors who tackle heavier issues, especially when they do it with tact and grace (as it sounds like Peters did here). I really do have to be in the mood to read these sorts of stories, but they are usually the ones that leave a longer lasting effect on me. I'm eager (bad word choice, perhaps?) to see how Daelyn's story ends. Great review, Kat!

  5. I think I've read this one before but I'm not sure. When in doubt it's time to put it on hold at the library. Nice review Kat!
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages



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