Seventeen-year-old Michael decides to end it all one day. He feels he has nothing to live for. His life at school is a misery because of a gang of bullies; he has never kissed a girl; and his diary, in which he documents all his troubles, seems to be his only consolation. However, when he tries to commit suicide with pills washed down with alcohol, he wakes to find himself alive with no trace of pills, alcohol, or his suicide note. There is, however, a note telling him he will receive a visit from a stranger, offering him a chance at a new life. He can have all he desires, based on a handshake and a promise. This chance—aka the Gift—comes with a price. In 66 years’ time, Michael must do the strange visitor a small favour. If he accepts, then he cannot break this bargain. Michael reasons that 66 years is a long time. What can possibly go wrong? His life is transformed when he changes physically and mentally to a state of almost-perfection; his mother wins a vast fortune; and he begins a relationship with the girl he always worshipped from afar. But the man in black returns sooner than expected and demands his price.
|From Goethe's Faust|
What an interesting read! This book is a YA paranormal thriller with wide appeal. Author Jonathan Lynch has a gift for description, and knows how to turn up the tension. My only criticism here would be that in some very exciting scenes, the descriptions tend to slow down the pace. The characters are well-drawn and believable, especially Michael. The reader can really identify with him. The plot moves in and out of various people’s lives, drawing dark threads together as the mysterious stranger works on his own (otherworldly) agenda. Can Michael escape the fate he has chosen for himself? When dark forces conspire to claim the blood price, can Michael break this deadly pact? Reminiscent of the legend of Faust, who surrendered moral integrity for power and success, the story also throws up interesting questions of good versus evil; what is truth, and what things are beyond price. The book ends in a fascinating way, and I’m sure readers would love a continuation. Recommended.
by Fiona Ingram
First reviewed for Readers Favorite
(b/w illustration from Wikipedia - see link)