Book review: The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch. Volume One: At the Edge of the Empire, by Daniel Kraus

Kraus, Daniel. The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch; Volume One: At the Edge of the Empire. (The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch series.) Simon & Schuster,  2015.   $18.99.   ISBN:9781481411394.   642p. Gr. 10-adult. P4 Q6

Kraus Zebulon Finch 1Quick plot summary: in a fit of teenage rebellion, Zebulon Finch leaves home, becomes a gangster, gets killed, rises from the dead and leads a life-death of incredible depravity. I am generally a fan of horror and fantasy and – as a young-adult librarian – read quite a bit of YA lit. This book, while very well-written, is incredibly confusing for the YA audience it is written for. The subject and plot are simple, but the setting and characters are complex and difficult to relate to. There’s not enough horror to be horror, enough fantasy to be fantasy, the plot moves very slowly, and it’s just too long. There are sexual scenes that are disturbing and it’s impossible to feel pathos or any connection to the lead character, who narrates this plodding tome in a erudite, foppish manner. It would be difficult for me to recommend this to any young adults, as themes of sadism, narcissism, and alienation take center stage and make this a most uncomfortable read.

January 2016 review by L.F., NHS Staff

[Editor’s note: Goodreads reviews on this title separated very distinctly into those who were captivated by the literary style and those who found the story to drag.]

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