Review: How To Be Death by Amber Benson

How to be Death (Calliope Reaper-Jones, #4)How To Be Death (Calliope Reaper-Jones #4) by Amber Benson
Urban Fantasy
Feb 28, 2012

Reviewed by Tori

How To Be Death is the fourth book in Amber Benson’s Calliope Reaper-Jones series. A lightweight urban fantasy about a scatterbrained young lady who inadvertently becomes the head of death. Calliope Jones is the current Grim Reaper. Death incarnate. Madam Death. The “girl who can wish you dead.” Not a job she wanted but after her father’s murder and her sister’s attempted assassination and company take over…Calliope has finally stepped up to the plate and taken over as the head of death. This story takes place during the annual Death Dinner and All Hallows Eve. An annual ball where all of death’s conglomerates get together for a weekend. One important fact is that they all become mortal during the duration of the ball. When Calliope is given an original copy of How To Be Death, (complete with a guide on how to start the end of days), it’s stolen before she can ever crack the cover. Soon the weekend turns into dinner mystery theatre when the bodies start piling up and everyone is a suspect.

I wish I could say this book was good, but it wasn’t. A weak plot, dead end subplots, cardboard characters, and annoying, rambling dialogue made this an unappealing read. This book felt like a filler. The main conflict and the lead up to it were unbelievably drawn out and boring. The storyline drags throughout and I found myself wanting to flip ahead to see if anything was ever going to happen. I find it sad that with each book, Calliope seems to get more annoying and immature. From book one to now, I haven’t seen any change in Calliope except she may have become a little nicer. Other than that she still acts like a flake, is passive aggressive when dealing with her life and the people in it, and does asinine things then gets upset when she has to pay the consequences for them.

I think the problem here for me is she continues to do nothing. She’s still not taking being the head of Death seriously. She refuses to use what little sense and power she has to help herself along. The whole story consists of watching her eat, watching her snark badly, and watching her run around in circles, never quite getting it. If you cut out the padding, this book would have been about 75 pages long. Maybe. She doesn’t even really do anything to help solve the mystery. An outside detective is brought in and she, for unknown reasons, follows him around as he questions suspects and investigators the murders. In two separate occasions she had a chance to regain the book and instead did nothing. Then expresses dismay that the book is once again missing.

The ending is anti climatic with a series of confusing circumstances and crazy explanations that eventually tells us why the book was stolen. And it wasn’t even a very good reason. I’m not sure what is happening in this series but it’s just not for me anymore.

Overall Rating: F

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    • Tori says

      I loved the first book in the series, but yes, Ms. Calliope doesn’t evole enough for me. In fact, she seems to be de-evolving. :( She’s silly but no in an amusing way.

  1. Mandi says

    I think the problem here for me is she continues to do nothing. She’s still not taking being the head of Death seriously. She refuses to use what little sense and power she has to help herself along.


  2. Michael Cain says

    I bought the first book when it came out at Walmart…but never got to reading it. I loved Amber as Tara on Buffy. But now I’m kinda glad I never read it.

  3. says

    I tried to read book one, and DNF after 10 pages. Thank goodness it was a library loan. I just had no connection to any of the characters from the beginning.

  4. Sara says

    The first in this series was a DNF for me after about 50 pages (and that was only cause I had nothing else to read at the time and tried to tough it out). I have never disliked a heroine so much. I was honestly hoping she would be killed off with every unfunny fat joke and idiotic, shallow comment she made. I’m impressed you stuck it out this far.

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