And you thought dying once would be hard…
On the morning before her 67th death, it is business as usual for agent Jesse Sullivan: meet with the mortician, counsel soon-to-be-dead clients, and have coffee while reading the latest regeneration theory. Jesse dies for a living, literally. Because of a neurological disorder, she is one of the population’s rare 2% who can serve as a death surrogate, dying so others don’t have to.
Although each death replacement is different, the result is the same: a life is saved, and Jesse resurrects days later with sore muscles, new scars, and another hole in her memory. But when Jesse is murdered and becomes the sole suspect in a federal investigation, more than her freedom and sanity are at stake. She must catch the killer herself–or die trying.
Dying for a Living is the first book in Kory M. Shrum’s gripping urban fantasy series. If you like page-turning action, tough as nails heroines, and perfectly-paced suspense, then you’ll love this “hilarious” and “supernaturally fantastic” ride.
“I paid attention to the one physical sensation I associated most with death: the stomach tug. Every time I died this happened.”
This book was so incredibly entertaining. Something about it just works. Shrum manages to draw me into the story so easily. It was the initial concept, that someone could die for someone else, that drew me in in the first place. The characters, the story, and the flow kept me in the story. I’ve read this first book once before, back when it first came out, I just couldn’t keep up with the series in real time, so now I get to read it all.
Jesse is a fun character. She is sarcastic (and it isn’t forced sarcasm, either, it actually works!), she is fun, she is always looking to make others laugh but she doesn’t suffer fools around her. Also, she never has two of the same shoe on. Jesse is also running scared of her own life because of past hurts. She uses everything to keep the world at enough of a distance where it can’t hurt her again. Here is a great scene though that sums up Jesse:
“My personal favorite and I quote,” he said, through tight lips. “Ms. Sullivan is like a human Chihuahua who barks at anything that moves.”
“I don’t bark.” I flipped through the cards.
“I believe it’s a comment on your constant sarcasm,” Brinkley said and slipped his hands into his pockets. “Not that any of us have had the pleasure of experiencing it.”
“My commentary is not constant,” I argued. I flicked the card. “That woman is just mad because I called her a hoarder. She had, like, two million creepy dolls.”
Kirk grunted, suppressing a laugh. “What kind?”
“Porcelain—and some of them clowns,” I answered and tried to get a crick out of my neck by stretching it long, left then right. My neck muscles ached like I’d spent the night head-banging. “If I really was a mean person I would’ve said something about that stain on your pants.”
All of our eyes went to Brinkley’s crotch and the dark stain about four inches below his gun.
I arched an eyebrow. “I could say—”
Brinkley stopped me, ears bright red. “That—” He refused to look at his crotch, which resulted in his pointing at it. “—is your fault.”
“I’d remember making you piss blood.”
His tone turned dangerously even. “When we picked you up from the hospital, they missed a piece of glass. When I pulled it out, you squirted on me,” he said, jaw still tight. “It would seem even your corpse is a sarcastic little shit.”
I really like the concept of these zombies (you can’t convince me to call them necronites, sorry). The idea that you can die for someone else is pretty unique. If someone else has done it, I sure haven’t come across the idea prior to this. In this first book, we’re not given much about what other powers Jesse has, but we do know there is something different about Jesse. Yet, we learn a lot about how the zombies work, or at least as much as they know how they work. It isn’t an old phenomenon in this world. It is pretty new in the grand scheme of the world, only a few decades from what I can tell.
There is also the fact that zombies occasionally go crazy. Like how Jesse is now seeing an angel named Gabriel who talks to her. That counts as crazy, right? We know absolutely nothing about this angel, really. We don’t even really know if it is real or not, though the evidence suggests it is.
There is also the science involved in the series, and to me this is sort of urban fantasy sci-fi. Part of this is heavily based in science. Like the military’s experiments to try and create zombies, or something new out of the zombies. That is a bit creepy, you know? Also, it seems they have studied quite a bit about the zombies, which we learn about.
There appears to be a massive conspiracy going on in this world, too. We’re just scrapping the surface layer off of this conspiracy. I’m curious about where this is going to go, honestly. I’m not certain what the end game is, yet.
Remember how I talked about how Jesse is running scared and she pushes the world away? Well, this book has a bisexual love triangle. I think this is the first series I’ve had that actually has a (sort of)bisexual love triangle. I say sort of, because Jesse doesn’t really want either of them seriously, but both of them want her seriously. I’ll be perfectly honest, and I’m not exactly certain why Jesse has two people who care for her so much. But, we get to see Jesse push away in stereo. Oh well. Somehow I was still sucked into this relationship, despite ticking some of my annoying boxes.
I really have no idea where this series is going, but I’m intrigued.
To read more reviews for this series, check out the Jesse Sullivan series page!