Review: Everyone Dies in the End

Everyone Dies in the EndEveryone Dies in the End by Brian Katcher. 9780615710174. 2014. Gr. 10-12.

Sometimes the most enjoyable books are the ones that you don’t know much about before picking them up and reading them. I discovered Brian Katcher a few years ago, when I picked up his book Playing With Matches just because it looked interesting. I loved the way he created his characters with an abundance of humor and compassion. That seems to be a common thread in Katcher’s books, and holds true in his latest offering, Everyone Dies in the End.

Sherman Andrews is determined to be the next great journalist. He is intent on making connections and learning the business, so much that he enrolls in the young scholar program at a nearby university, even though he is still in high school. While researching a story for the program, he stumbles upon a 1930s-era letter that mentions a mysterious fire in a church and a deceased reverend. When he uses his research skills to further investigate, it becomes obvious that someone doesn’t want him poking around in the past.

Helping Sherman with his research is Charlie, a spunky plus-sized student that works at the historical society. She provides the romantic element, and becomes a big part of Sherman’s team as he tries to unravel the mystery. Sherman’s young scholar dorm buddies and a mental patient from a nearby hospital provide additional help, and add needed comedy relief along the way.

This is a difficult book to succinctly describe. It is part mystery, part romance, part horror, part coming-of-age tale, and for good measure throws in a supernatural element . In one moment it is gruesome and gory, and the next, sweet and light. It alternates between the present and the past, and features a secret society that bridges both eras. So, there is a lot going on here, but the one constant from Katcher is the great character development. The bottom line is that Everyone Dies in the End is a lot of fun to read.

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