A white teenage girl discovers she must reap souls after she dies.
Rosie Wolfe is 15 when she is fatally struck by a truck. She wakes up in a purgatorial hospital where she is informed that she must reap three souls before she is allowed to move on to paradise to join her father. After a makeover and some classes on how to collect souls, Rosie is sent back to live with Martha, a white reaper mentor. Rosie quickly breaks several reaper rules by crushing on a neighborhood Latino boy and trying to find her mother. She successfully reaps two adult souls but is conflicted about the third, a young girl that has been assigned to Rosie as punishment for her defiance. Will Rosie be able to finish the job? Some readers may cease to care due to the weak worldbuilding, in which the afterlife is stereotypically rendered as a nondescript hospital or office building, and the thinly drawn characters, who are mostly defined by their skin and hair color. Convenient coincidences (Martha was also Rosie’s father’s mentor; Rosie eats in a diner where her old best friend is now a waitress) further diminish an already prosaic plot.
An also-ran in the genre; for a far more nuanced, philosophical examination of life and death, readers interested in reaping should consider Neal Shusterman’s erudite Scythe (2016) instead. (Fantasy. 12-15)