Ever since a near-death-experience on the operating table, seventeen-year-old Arianne Wilson can see dead people. Just as she’s learned to accept her new-found talents, she discovers that the boy she’s had a crush on since freshman year, Niko Clark, is a Reaper.
At last they have something in common, but that doesn’t mean life is getting any easier. All while facing merciless bullying from the most powerful girl in school, Arianne’s world is turned upside down after Niko accidentally reaps the soul of someone she loves. This sends them both into a spiral that threatens to end Arianne’s life. But will Niko break his own Reaper’s code to save her? And what would the consequences be if he did?
Reaping Me Softly opens with an introspective solo scene. Death has a migraine. It’s not really surprising with the paperwork he has to keep up with. A hundred people die every minute on earth and he has to sign every single one. And it’s not just him. Nikolas Clark, the Reaper of Georgia, has been going through the motions for several lifetimes now. He’s so bored, so depressed, so fed up, that he forgets to take in residual energy from the souls he reaps. He’d have faded away to nothing if not for Arianne Wilson, a girl in his chemistry class, who just happens to be in the right place at the right time.
Arianne is a troubled girl. (What teenager isn’t to some extent?) At school, she’s in the crosshairs of the school bully, cheer captain Darla, and so is everyone who talks to her. At home, her family is divided. Both of her parents work. Her mother also spends nights at the hospital with Carrie, Arianne’s sister, whose first kidney transplant is failing while she’s on a waiting list for another. Arianne donated that kidney. She’d donate her other one if her parents would let her. Even if it were possible, she died on the operating table the first time around. Since then, Arianne’s been able to see ghosts, naked people who show up just about everywhere. She can’t talk to them. They don’t bother her. She’s gotten used to them.
At the opening of the story, there is news of a car accident on I-75. She doesn’t think much about it, until two classmates from her chemistry class, including her lab partner, are called to the principal’s office. This leaves Nico Clark without a lab partner, too, so their teacher puts them together. While Arianne is drooling over Nico, she drops hydrochloric acid on her skin, and Nico saves the day by knowing exactly what to do.
I wouldn’t exactly call Nico and Arianne’s relationship “instalove.” Arianne’s had a crush on the guy for years. Nico, however, does fall flat on his face in love rather quickly. Despite having multiple classes with her over the year, and having a locker right next to hers the year before, he has no recollection of having seen her before. Granted, he’s been depressed by his Reaper occupation and his being in school is mainly about fitting in. His best friend teases him, often, for being incredibly dense. But Nico goes from oblivious to lovesick in five seconds flat, and after she saves his life, he really is done for, to the amusement of his Reaper mentor, Tomas, and even Death himself. However, the author remedies this with a punishing ending that promises to make the boy work to keep Arianne.
Reaping Me Softly, is a cute book with serious themes underlying the sweetness. Darla, the bully, is a monster that keeps the entire school, including teachers, on a tight leash. Carrie’s declining health and the literal accumulation of death surrounding Niko and Arianne keep mortality close at hand. The prose is at times a bit too flowery, and in one scene, I remember reading through it three times before I understood what the author meant. These problems aside, I enjoyed reading it. So much, I moved the sequel, Unreap My Heart to the top of my reading list.
Reaping Me Softly is a clean YA read. There’s a scene depicting battle between two Reapers and the aftermath torture. There is no drinking, little swearing, and no inappropriate touchy-feely scenes. I would recommend it to fans of Evangelista’s other paranormal novels, Taste and Savor, and of YA paranormal romance in general.
I was given an e-book copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.
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