Deadline by Chris Crutcher This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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I had some trouble finishing this before the deadline, but I did and I’m glad I did. This book was realistic, unexpected, and was overall a good account of Ben’s experiences in the last year of his life.
In the first pages of the book, Ben Wolf, a senior living in the miniscule town of Trout, Idaho, learns that he has a terminal blood disease and has about a year to live. After being informed of his chances, he decides to decline treatment which will probably not work in order to live his final year to the fullest. He also doesn’t inform his family and friends, for the same reason and also because his mom is emotionally unstable and Ben doesn’t want to have her anticipating it. The actual event will be bad enough.
Instead of running cross country, which he has done every year so far, Ben plays football like his brother, Cody, the starting QB. Even though it’s just eight-man, Ben becomes a valued member of the team as safety and kick return stopper. He also manages to get Dallas Suzuki, a girl he has secretly worshipped for most of high school, because he has nothing to lose and he’s determined to live what time he has left to the fullest. For the same reasons, Ben drives his Colonel Blimpist (conservative nut job, if you haven’t heard that expression) civics teacher insane, learns quite a few unexpected things about Rudy McCoy, the town drunk.
I could tell you about Hey-Soos, Sooner, and the scouts, but I think I’ll try to make you read this one. The characters are portrayed very realistically. You might say that in real life, Ben would break down, but I don’t think he would. I think it’s so hard to imagine life suddenly stopping like that, when you’re used to everything going along fine that it wouldn’t break through to the subconscious but only to the conscious mind, which is a lot more rational by its very nature. Fear is not the sensation accompanying the realization of danger, and hasn’t been since we became sentient. Fear is a fog, an obstruction, preventing coherent and logical action. Ben, I think, could break through the fog, and he did.
Dallas’s actions are also well-written, at least as far as I can judge. I obviously don’t have a lot of experience with this, but you’re going to have to trust me if you want any surprise at all.
One good thing about this book is the many twists that the plot takes, the surprises, the things not being as they appear. It’s a great way to contrast before and after he knew, as well as thought-provoking about the secrets that those around us might bear. Again, I can’t give away too much.
The setting was important because in a larger population center, not everyone would know Ben or what was happening to him. The small town was important because it provided a manageable sample that one could look at and see through its lens humanity.
One problem for me was Hey-Soos. He’s this voice that talks to Ben when he’s asleep. I found him to be slightly distracting and not very believable. I don’t believe in any of that mystical stuff and I see some reasons why his subcons. would create this but I don’t think it would be that strong. I also thought Sylvia Longley’s arguments rang a bit hollow, but I suppose if you aren’t a nut you can’t portray them realistically.





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