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Death watch by Ari Berk
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Death watch (edition 2011)

by Ari Berk

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1079112,824 (3.86)1 / 3
Member:enheduanna
Title:Death watch
Authors:Ari Berk
Info:New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2011.
Collections:Your library, Read in 2013 (inactive)
Rating:***
Tags:mine, fiction, read in 13

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Death Watch (Undertaken Trilogy) by Ari Berk

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Review coming. ( )
  s.pando | Nov 4, 2016 |
Review coming. ( )
  s.pando | Nov 4, 2016 |
Couldn't get into it; didn't finish.
  mtlkch | Jun 21, 2016 |
sorry, this book just wasn't for me.
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |
Ari Berk's Death Watch is, without doubt, one of the most beautifully-written books I've had the pleasure of reading. His prose is lyrical, gothic, and drenched with meaning. The discussions of life, death, and family are thought-provoking and touching. For the prose alone, this book is a hundred percent worth reading. Berk has massive talent and, though I can't say this series, is perfect for me, I will be keeping an eye on his career.

The catalyst of Death Watch is the disappearance of Amos Umber, Silas' father. Silas and his mother are turned out of their home, for it belongs to his Uncle. With little recourse available to them, they agree to move back to Lichport, the hometown of both his parents and his own birthplace, to live with his Uncle. There, he must confront his father's disappearance and his destiny, and try to help Lichport in the process.

The world depicted in Death Watch feels both real and fantastical, modern and historical. Lichport feels like a place out of time, a town where the realm of the dead is closer than anywhere else. Ghosts roam the streets, inhabit houses, and attempt murders. Berk captures the eerieness perfectly, but also the magic. Ghosts are like people; they aren't all bad, and they come in all sorts of forms. In fact, some ghosts are even corporeal, lingering almost like zombies, simply unwilling to accept that they're dead. The world building is fantastic and rich, full of ghost lore. The family dynamics are like Lemony Snicket meets Hamlet, which basically means it's dark and messed up, but a bit fanciful. Actually, much of the story recalls Shakespeare or classic literature.

Where Death Watch came up short for me was in plotting and characterization. So far as the plot goes, I would have liked more of it. Death Watch is hefty at over 500 pages, and it felt long too. There's a lot of meandering to the plot, and, despite that, I felt like most of the actual plot elements were dealt with so swiftly as to be unsatisfying. Berk focuses more on the quiet reflection than on the active moments, like Silas having to separate from his ghostly girlfriend and the takedown of the villain.

Though I like Silas, I don't feel any strong emotions towards him, and I can't be bothered about anyone else in Death Watch. I felt a definite distance from him that never diminished. He also never really does much growing through the course of the book, and certainly the others don't. His troubled relationship with his mother is never really resolved or satisfactorily confronted. His brief courtship of the ghostly girl is told in such a way that it elicited no feels from me, though it is a tragic experience for him. He's a character I feel I should have liked, but the story focuses so much more on the writing and world building than on building up characters. Also, on a side note, this novel really doesn't strike me as young adult and, if anything, would fall more under the new adult umbrella, as Silas is over 18 and deals with issues of becoming an adult, like finding a profession and moving out of his parents' home.

Anyone who enjoys ghost stories or gothic literature will be doing themselves a disservice by not reading Death Watch. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Jun 30, 2013 |
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When seventeen-year-old Silas Umber's father disappears, Silas is sure it is connected to the powerful artifact he discovers, combined with his father's hidden hometown history, which compels Silas to pursue the path leading to his destiny and ultimately, to the discovery of his father, dead or alive.… (more)

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