How Angels Die is one of the few books whose movie came out before the book or more or less at the same time (August 2014). What is strange is, all the praises/reviews printed in the book are about the movie, not this book. That almost never happens!
This is a true story. The story is similar to Erich Segal’s Love Story or even Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk To Remember (two books I dislike, by the way). The difference lies in the fact that in this book, the terminally ill character opts for euthanasia. Don’t worry, I have not given out any spoilers, as this is something you learn on the very first page of the book.
Euthanasia is a very serious topic to write about. It is a serious issue, and it brings up the whole right v/s wrong question. But, this book does not talk about it in detail. The character commits suicide when she is unable to go on with her life. The book does not clarify if she approached her doctors about euthanasia, or she simply decided she would be denied, so took up the task of ending her own life.
Almost half the book (up to chapter 12 to be precise) talks about how great their relationship was. It was highly romanticized and the author has tried to project their relationship as “perfect”. The author showers a lot of praise on his Jemma, but in places it sounds too sugary or sentimental. It almost sounds like it should have been called How Angels Die: A Justification. Since this is non-fiction, and we’re talking about the author’s dead lover here, it is a little difficult for me to look at it objectively. If the author wishes to remember Jemma as perfect, it would be unfair to disrespect or tarnish that memory.
In all honesty, the one page dedicated to Guy’s brother was far more heartbreaking than Jemma’s story. In a few words, he fitted the brief life that his brother lived, and it was truly sad. Perhaps, his and Jemma’s story should have been served like that. Condensed. Using up only the pages it needs. However, there are so many sentences that get repeated about death and thoughts about death etc. that their relevance gets lost in the number of times you read them. Add to that the large font, and you just get the feeling that pages are being filled here.
I noticed a few typos (“walked passed” for instance) but nothing too alarming.
This is no literary masterpiece. This is a simple, straightforward, sentimental story of a guy narrating the story of how the person whom he loved the most killed herself when life became unbearable. When you first read about Guy’s desire to die at the age of 37, out of his own selfish reasons, you do feel he’s wasting his gift. It isn’t a moral thing. You just don’t understand why anyone would be so selfish as to want to die so that they don’t have to see old age and its troubles. But Guy does not go through with this plan. And explaining why he did not is how this book begins. If you’re interested you can buy it by clicking on the link below:
My rating: 2/5
PS: I got a paperback copy of this book for review from Waldorf Publishing.