Yay!!! It was! (It helped that it is a nicely manageable 229 pages, just the right amount for a single-sitting read).
Mitchell has been in Hell for four years, working as the Devil's Intern. Hell is horribly over-crowded (Heaven isn't taking its fair share, and decent people, like Mitchell, end up damned), and Mitchell, understandably, resents having died at 17 and resents being in Hell. So when the chance comes to illicitly use Hell's secret time-travelling device, Mitchell takes it, hoping to go back in time to keep himself from being hit by the Greyhound bus that killed him.
His three best friends, people who make Hell almost worthwhile, go with him--they will visit each death in turn. First the death of Alfarin, a16 year-old Viking marauder killed in battle. Then Elinor, who died in the Great Fire of London. Then the death of Melissa, aka Medusa because of her wild hair, back in the 1960s in San Francisco. And then his own. So the foursome leave Hell with considerable funds appropriated from its coffers, and hole up in the Plaza Hotel in New York City, which they'll use as their base of operations.
But changing one's death isn't as easy as it seems...and the years the four have spent in Hell have not been as entirely hellish as one might think. To live again is to loose those years, and the love that was part of them....
Mitchell and Medusa hadn't quite gotten to the point of being a couple, nor had Elinor and Alfarin. But they were part of each other's (dead) lives....and in the course of their time-travelling adventures, full of absolutely nail-biting tension, secrets reveled, and hearts wrung, Mitchell has to figure out if he can give up all that makes up his present death for the chance to live again....
Yep, read in a single sitting. Absolutely riveting premise, great characters, many bits of humor to liven the darkness, nicely crisp writing, really cool time-travelling....(first time travel book I've read in which the dead get to time travel via device). It got a starred review at Kirkus with particular mention of "the snarky comedy and suspense."
But what really made it work for me is the relationships between the characters. They are four people who truly care about each other, who are looking out for each other, stuck in a crappy situation but still going on, and I do very much like to spend my reading time with people I too can care about!
Note on age: this is definitely YA and up-- even though there is violence in lots of books, the violence here, especially what happened at Elinor's death, is so close and personal to the reader that it will stick in the mind, and quite possibly distress younger readers. Also, the characters are teenagers, thinking about sex, etc., although not actually going all the way. (not one I'd give to my 11 year old, who does not, to the best of my knowledge and belief, understand what "third base" means).
For those worried about the religious aspect--the folks up in Heaven are not being altogether loving and charitable (good people shouldn't go to Hell, after all), so there are salvation issues that might make some readers uncomfortable. Likewise, Satan is more capricious bullying tyrant than truly malevolent force of evil (although really bad people do get eternal torment).
Final thought--I am seriously thinking this might well be my Cybils nomination in YA Spec. Fic.
GIVEAWAY! Courtesy of the publisher, I can offer one lucky commenter (US only) a finished copy of this excellent book! Just leave a comment by midnight next Tuesday, October 6.
Here are the other blog tour stops:
Tuesday, Sept. 23: I am a Reader (guest post by author with bound book giveaway)
Wednesday, Sept. 24: Ellie Garratt (guest post by author with bound book giveaway)
Thursday, Sept. 25: Sharp Read (interview with author)
Friday, Sept. 26: Weaving a Tale or Two (interview with author)
Monday, Sept. 29: YA Book Nerd (interview with author with bound book giveaway)
Wednesday, Oct. 1: Musings of a Penniless Writer (post by the author on her own blog)
disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher.