Life Is Short and Then You Die edited by Kelley Armstrong | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life Is Short and Then You Die edited by Kelley Armstrong | Book ReviewLife Is Short and Then You Die by Kelley Armstrong
Also by this author: The Summoning, The Awakening, The Reckoning, The Calling
Published by Imprint on September 10, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Thrillers & Suspense, Short Stories
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Life Is Short and Then You Die is the Mystery Writers of America's first teen anthology, edited by #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong.
Adolescence is a time of “firsts.” First kiss. First love. First loss. First job. The first taste of adult responsibilities, and the first look at an independent life away from both the restrictions and the security of home.
And in this case, a very different type of “first”: murder.
This short story collection of murder mysteries adds a sinister spin to the joy and pain of firsts that have always been a major part of life, whether it be high school cliques who take the term “backstabbing” too seriously, stumbling upon a body on the way home from school, or receiving a Snapchat message that promises something deadly.
Contributors include Barry Lyga, Caleb Roehrig, Emmy Laybourne, Jonathan Maberry, R.L. Stine, Rachel Vincent, Y.S. Lee, and more!
An Imprint Book

I do usually tend to enjoy short story anthologies and sampling different authors – via completed stories (not samplers, those are the worst). However, I am just thinking that maybe Life Is Short and Then You Die was just not the anthology for me. It seemed like most of the stories within were kind of a dud for me. About a quarter were relatively good, but overall, I just was not very compelled.

Floater by Kelley Armstrong

The first story in the Life Is Short And Then You Die anthology is told from the perspective of Kylie. She happens to see a body pulled out of the water and then sees her mother who is a criminal investigator crying. It’s then that we realize the body pulled is Kylie’s. She then relives what happened leading up to her death and makes the choice to keep that memory or to erase all of it. On the whole, this is a story that is easy to get into and reads quite quickly.

The Day I Killed Coach Duffy by R.L. Stine

The Day I Killed Coach Duffy is told in first person from Doug’s perspective. He is on the soccer team with his friend Tyler. The coach, Coach Duffy is a real jerk. Anyways, Coach Duffy ends up at Tyler’s house and you can guess what happens based on the title. This story is super quick – about 11 pages. I wasn’t a massive fan and could take or leave this short story.

In Plain Sight by Y.S. Lee

Y.S. Lee’s contribution to Life Is Short & Then You Die is a historical fiction story about the youngest female prisoner in Canada. The prisoner’s name is Sarah Jane Pierce and she’s got one year left of her sentence when a new young woman is brought into the lockup – Corrigan. Sarah Jane is presented with a choice to make at the end that will absolutely guide her future. On the whole, this was such a strong story and contribution. I felt a sense of place and time while reading. I also felt invested in Sarah Jane as a character. I will read more from Y.S. Lee in the future for sure.

Daddy’s Girl by Melissa Marr

Melissa Marr’s contribution, Daddy’s Girl, is about this girl who is out by the crappy pool of this hotel she’s staying at for a convention in the early morning hours when she sees a body in one of the lounge chairs. We start not quite sure why the body is there. This story is a really fast read with nothing supernatural. It’s quite twisted. I am on the fence with how I feel about it.

Summer Job by Amanda Witt

Summer Job by Amanda Witt is about a teen boy named Pete who is working a summer job cleaning the wreckage from the fire that killed his childhood babysitter. Each day he goes with his dog and sifts through what is left – giving retrieved items to his babysitter’s son. The house is out of cell phone range and people rarely drive by – except for Katie with her yellow VW bug. As it turns out, the fire was intentionally set and Pete unearths the reason why. This story started kind of slow, but by the end I was hooked.

The Boy In The Red Vans by Rachel Vincent

Rachel Vincent’s short story, The Boy In The Red Vans features a girl named Ellie who has an anger problem. It is so bad that she’s had to call her friend Michael over to help her dispose of a body. Ellie is clearly really upset about what happened between her and the boy but also about the friendship with Michael not turning into anything more. There’s a twist with this story that was quite compelling but also a bit obvious.

The Company I Keep by Jeffrey Somers

The Company I Keep is narrated by a teenage boy named Reggie who is a college freshman. Reggie has a roommate named Doug who is basically in the friendzone. Also, Reggie’s sister Regina comes to visit quite a bit. I’ll just say this story is a bit weird and totally not at all my thing. Of course, there is a murder, but there’s also a bunch of other things going on, like Reggie’s mother’s Munchausen’s By Proxy. It’s just bizarre and odd and weird.

Concealment by Eileen Rendahl

Eileen Rendahl’s Concealment is about scent memory – how the main character’s repressed memory of the murder of her mother is triggered by the scent of apples. So, the main character finds out her mother was possibly killed by her at three years old by a concealed carry weapon accidentally going off. As I write about this story a few days later, I admit I had to go back to check which one this is. So while it’s not a repelling kind of story, it wasn’t all that memorable.

Night Of The Living Dog by David Bart

Night Of The Living Dog features Wyatt who is looking forward to some pizza while his parents are out on date night and maybe seeing his girlfriend, Chloe. His parents return all bent out of shape because they witnessed a shooting in the park, but were saved from being eliminated as witnesses by a dog. And so, Wyatt decides he needs to find the dog but also who the shooter was. Eh.

Murder IRL by Jeff Soloway

Murder IRL by Jeff Soloway is about SimDawg, a teenage boy with bad acne who runs a baseball simulation website. One of the users of his site threatens to murder another. As it turns out, the user follows up on that threat and commits the murder. SimDawg ends up meeting a girl from the site, Christa, and investigating the murder. He also makes offline friends. This story was an okay read.

A Killer Story by Julie Tollefson

Julie Tollefson’s A Killer Story features Livvie who is a teenage journalist. She’s angry and out for a run up the cross country trail when she finds a dead body. The body of one of her teachers in particular. Livvie wants to write a news story but she keeps running into roadblocks. Fortunately, Livvie is on the case of who the murderer is. This story is one of the better ones in Life Is Short & Then You Die.

Gnat by Joseph S. Walker

Gnat by Joseph S. Walker is about a teenage boy who lives in the Ozarks named Grant who is called Gnat by his bullies. Grant is into photography and so he takes a camera and places it in the woods to take a time lapse video to capture a sunset and sunrise. Unfortunately, the video also happens to capture a murder. So, Grant has some choices to make. Overall, I felt bad for Grant and he made some not great choices, but I can understand why.

A Different Hero’s Day by Anthony Franze and Barry Lancet

A Different Hero’s Day by Anthony Franze and Barry Lancet was fabulous. I liked it because the main character has ADHD and it turns out that he saves the day – due to the aspects of his ADHD. I wish more of the stories within this anthology had been like that – about diverse teens dealing with different aspects of murder.

First Party Back by Emmy Laybourne

This short story is about Drew, a football player who is going to his first party since the fall. The month is April, FYI. So, anyways there’s a reason Drew hasn’t gone to parties and we find out while reading what that is. I like this story a lot because there’s diverse characters. It delves into positive male friendships and doing the right thing. It’s really a coming of age short story and written excellently.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation by Jonathan Maberry

What I Did On My Summer Vacation by Jonathan Maberry is about a young man named Dylan Quinn who is on a test run for the family business. He’s serving as a body guard for an extremely wealthy eleven year old kid on a tropical island. Initially Dylan is doing the job because no one takes the threat seriously and well, it’s good practice for him. As it turns out though, the threat to Carlos, the kid, is real. On the whole, this story had a strong voice and good pacing.

The Things We Don’t Talk About by Stephen Ross

The Things We Don’t Talk About by Stephen Ross is about Dean who essentially was expelled from high school along with his friend Frank. The other guy in their trio is Birdy, who was voted most likely to succeed and was not expelled. Anyways, Birdy ends up killing Frank and we unravel the reason why. This is a story about some really difficult topics, set in Divine, Alabama. Easily one of the best stories in this anthology.

Enemy Lines by Caleb Roehrig

I don’t really know why this anthology put the good stories at the end but I finally get the Caleb Roehrig hype. Enemy Lines is a historical fiction where Fernand is in the resistance and travels from unoccupied France to Occupied France in order to kill the nazi who murdered his father. He’s also there to discover who the mole in the Resistance is. Let’s just say how this story wraps up is excellent and perfectly plotted and timed.

Six Ways To Kill Your Grandmother by Barry Lyga

Barry Lyga’s Six Ways To Kill Your Grandmother completes the anthology. It’s a prequel to the I Hunt Killers novels and somewhat an interesting story. In this story, Jasper Dent wrestles with six different ways to kill his abusive grandmother and whether he should go through with it and be like his father, Billy Dent. Of course, if you’ve read I Hunt Killers, you should know how this story resolves. It’s good though.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.