7 Rated Books Book Reviews Giveaways YA Appreciation Month 2010

Book Review & Giveaway: Early to Death, Early to Rise by Kim Harrison

Title: Early to Death, Early to Rise

Author: Kim Harrison

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: May 2010
Hardcover: 240 Pages

Seventeen, dead, and in charge of heaven’s dark angelsβ€”all itching to kill someone.

Madison Avery’s dreams of ever fitting in at her new school died when she did. Especially since she was able to maintain the illusion of a body, deal with a pesky guardian angel, and oh yeah, bring the reaper who killed her to his untimely end. Not exactly in-crowd material. It’s amazing that her crush, Josh, doesn’t think she’s totally nuts.

Now Madison has learned that she’s the dark timekeeper, in charge of angels who follow the murky guidelines of fate. Never one to abide by the rules, she decides it’s time for a major change to the system. With the help of some unlikely allies, Madison forms a rogue group of reapers who definitely don’t adhere to the rules of the heavens.

But as she grapples with the terrifying new skills that come with being a timekeeper, Madison realizes she may not be prepared for what lies aheadβ€”unless she gets some seriously divine intervention.

Stand alone or series: Book 2 in the ongoing Madison Avery series

How did I get this book: Review copy from the publisher

Why did I read this book: Are you kidding me? I *love* Kim Harrison. Her ridiculously fast-paced and action-crammed books are insanely addictive – it’s for that reason that the Rachel Morgan/Hollows series is among favorite UF series’. And, I am ecstatic to report that her YA books, following a dark time keeper named Madison Avery, fits the same mold. I loved Once Dead, Twice Shy, and could not wait for this second book.


Seventeen year-old Madison Avery has the job of a lifetime – well, several lifetimes. Tricked into a state of dead limbo with her human body nowhere to be found, Madison has inherited the role of Dark Timekeeper – that is, she is one of two diametrically opposed humans with the power to discern the fabric of time. As Dark Timekeeper, Madison technically works on the side of “Fate”; her job is to identify “marks” and to scythe their souls before they commit whatever heinous evil deeds they are destined to commit. At every step of the way, the Light Timekeeper will try to thwart her efforts, as they believe in the power of human choice (even if those choices lead to mass murders or other atrocities).

But here’s the rub – Madison might be working on the side of Fate, but she believes in the power of choice, too. Dedicated to make a difference and to find a balance between the two opposed ideals, Madison will try to find a different way to deal with “marks” (that don’t involve giving them a ‘get-out-of-death-free’ card in the form of an infallible guardian angel like the Light Timekeeper would do, or preemptively scything – killing – the mark’s soul). Madison’s first official mark as Dark Timekeeper is the biggest test of her young (un)life. Not only does she have to find her target before ruthless Light Timekeeper Chronos does, she also has to convince the mark to change his mind about committing his crime AND she’s got to do it working with two angels that just can’t get along, Barnabus (a “fallen” light angel for his trust and belief in Madison’s desire to change the way things are done) and Nakita (a dark angel that has become something…more, because Madison allowed her to experience true, mortal fear).

This second full-length Madison Avery book is, in a word, fantastic. Kim Harrison is at her best with this engaging and surprisingly thought-provoking series. While Madison’s personal life (and death) was much of the fun, lighter impetus behind the first short story and the first novel, in Early to Death, Early to Rise, things take a more serious, thematic-centric turn. One thing I love about Kim Harrison’s books (both her fantasy novels and in her Hollows series) is how she builds upon prior storylines and expands her universes with each additional novel in the series – and Early to Death, Early to Rise continues in this tradition. In Once Dead, Twice Shy, we learn that there is an ancient game, a realm of angelic interference beyond our human perception, run by two opposing sides – Light and Dark (not to be confused with “Good” and “Evil” or “God” and “The Devil” or anything nearly so simplistic). In Early to Death, Early to Rise, this division is examined more closely, and the lines and roles of the Light and Dark timekeepers become wonderfully blurred. At this novel’s heart is the age-old dilemma: Free Will or Fate? (In the huge gaping maw that the absence of LOST has left in my life, I have an even larger appreciation for books that try to tackle this dichotomy) Ms. Harrison handles the question effortlessly, avoiding some simplistic black or white answer for a combination of the two in shades of gray where destiny and choice mingle and coexist. In addition to the thematic depth, there’s also an expansion on Madison’s story – just how she became Dark Timekeeper (Chronos’ intervention) and what her limitations are since she’s not exactly alive anymore. There are some interesting developments, and underlying the larger, central storyline, there are Madison’s doubts about being able to actually do this job, and the slow-simmering plot seed of her need to find her human body and become fully alive again.

Madison’s character goes through a lot here in this second book, developing and growing as a heroine. She struggles to find balance in a world set on polarized opposites, and she learns that while something sounds great in theory, putting compromise into practice is a much harder thing to do. There are also smaller, quieter moments in this book that won me over – there are moments of lightheartedness intermingled with sadness, lending a genuine quality to Madison as a narrator and a real person. Her inability to eat, for example, is wistful and funny – but it also means that Madison has to continue lying to her father (she can’t exactly out and tell him her body is a corporeal one, and as such she cannot eat food). Little things like that.

As for the other characters, they too grow and change – which is a big deal for immortal, supposedly immutable characters. Barnabus has undergone the most dramatic shift, falling from Chronos’ right hand man to join Madison’s quest (and seriously, who doesn’t love Barnabus?!), but Nikita makes an awesome sidekick here. My only minor criticism of the characters are how familiar a few of them are. Nikita is SO Ivy and Grace reminiscent of Jenks (for those of you that have read the Rachel Morgan books), but does it matter when I love Nikita’s dark, tortured edge or Grace’s awful limericks? I’m willing to overlook those similarities because, well, these characters are so damn compelling anyways. Even the singleminded Chronos (ahem, Trent Kalamack?) works wonderfully because of how convinced he is that his way is the ONLY way. In fact,the only character that took a backseat here was that of Madison’s would-be boyfriend, Josh. But…that’s ok, because not everything has to be a love story (at least, in my mind, it was perfectly cool).

Overall? Early to Death, Early to Rise is yet another winner from Kim Harrison – even better than Once Dead, Twice Shy, and with tantalizing implications for the future. I cannot wait for the next book! Absolutely recommended.

Notable Quotes/Parts: Thanks to Harper Teen’s Browse Inside feature, you can read the first 70 pages of Early to Death, Early to Rise for free! Check it out:

Additional Thoughts: I am a sucker for extras, so check out the trailer:

Also, this year Harper Teen returns to its “Supernatural Summer” event – including book tours, giveaways, and a TON of awesome extras. I highly recommend you check it out, along with some of their other exciting YA titles.

Rating: 7 – Very Good

Reading Next: Passing Strange by Daniel Waters


We have TWO copies of Early to Death, Early to Rise up for grabs! The contest is open to residents of the US and Canada ONLY, and will run until Saturday July 31 at 11:59 PM (PST). To enter, simply leave a comment here letting us know where you fall on the spectrum – Light Timekeeper (choice?) or Dark Timekeeper (fate). ONLY ONE ENTRY PER PERSON – multiple entries from the same IP address will be disqualified. Good luck!

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  • KMont
    July 27, 2010 at 3:28 am

    Hmmm, I have the first book on my Sony Reader and I remember I was going through a bit of a reading slump when I first tried to read it. As a result, it didn’t appeal to me, which was a shocker since I’m just as huge a Harrison fan! Going to give it another try though. This one sounds great. πŸ˜‰ I had tried to avoid talk about the first one,but reading this review has convinced me that Harrison treats this world with just as much care. What’s not to like?

  • Amanda Isabel
    July 27, 2010 at 4:14 am

    definitely a light timekeeper – choice trumps fate, it is the great American dream and all … though fate can be nice sometime…

  • Kimberly B.
    July 27, 2010 at 4:45 am

    I think it’s probably a combination of both, but ultimately I’d be a light timekeeper. Because they are a lot of things you can’t control, but ultimately you’re the one who gets to decide what to do about it.
    I love Kim Harrison!
    Thanks for the terrific contest!

  • Elie
    July 27, 2010 at 4:57 am

    I have book one, but I am waiting for two to start.

    I am glad to hear the characters show growth in this second book, it makes it easier to become attached to them. I agree, Kim Harrison is awesome.

  • Jessica S.
    July 27, 2010 at 5:07 am

    I most definitely believe in choice. I believe we choose how to live our lives, there might be some destiny/Fate involved, but we may never know it so we make our own choices.

    Unless there’s a big book of Fate that says what your Fate is and it somehow dictates your reactions to things and leads you down a given path, I don’t see how Fate can play a role in our decision-making. So I go with choice! πŸ™‚

  • Susan Laura
    July 27, 2010 at 5:23 am

    What a great and interesting concept! I believe in choice so I would probably be happier being a light timekeeper. But since I just watched the movie “Zodiac” last night the idea of dark timekeepers who could “scythe their souls before they commit whatever heinous evil deeds they are destined to commit” sounds pretty intriguing, too!

  • Megan
    July 27, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Light, of course πŸ™‚ Choice > fate

  • Etta
    July 27, 2010 at 5:36 am

    I have to go with light. I think we always have a choice. Leaving everything up to fate feels too much like abdicating all responsibility.

    The second book sounds good, and I’m glad to hear Barnabas is back–he was my favorite character from the first book.

  • Bonnie Ferguson
    July 27, 2010 at 5:51 am


    I think it’s a combination of both, but I’d have to side with choice and the light timekeepers. While outside events are not under our control, how we react to them is. πŸ˜€

  • kemendraugh
    July 27, 2010 at 7:14 am

    My answer changes almost every day, which means I’m probably for choice, and a Light Timekeeper.
    But I do believe that there are some things that will just happen. And there’s nothing you can do about them. What you can do is decide what you’re going to do, or how you’re going to behave, after the inevitable happens.

  • Marie
    July 27, 2010 at 7:51 am

    I’m definately a Light Timekeeper. While I agree that sometimes things happen out of our control, I strongly believe we make a choice on how we deal with it, rather than being a victim of Fate.

  • Sarah
    July 27, 2010 at 9:19 am

    I am going to have to go with Barnebas and Madison on this one, I don’t really believe in fate.I think you always have a choice; those choices can lead to good things or bad things, but it is always your decision what to do. It is the choice that makes a person who they are.

  • Emily
    July 27, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I have to go Light Timekeeper. Though perhaps my opinion would change after reading the book.

  • Lauren Smith
    July 27, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I’ve never read anything by this author before but this book sounds awesome. I love the whole angel concept and if I needed to place myself on the spectrum I’d be Light Timekeeper in the favor of choice and free will. I can’t wait to try this book out and see if I’ve found yet another author to obsess over!

  • Carrie
    July 27, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    I would be a Light Timekeeper most of the time. I’m really looking forward to reading this book:)

  • Hann1bal
    July 27, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    I would probably go for the Light Timekeeper. Because I don’t really like the idea of something/someone else completely controlling the way things work. Choice sounds good to me.

  • Rachael L
    July 27, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Light Timekeeper. Great giveaway!

  • Betsy
    July 27, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I’m also voting for Light Timekeeper. After all what would the point of all these decisions we have to make if the future is already determined?

  • Joanna Tozier
    July 27, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    I am going for Light Timekeeper. I believe that everyone should be able to makes their own choices. Also I loved the first book! Totally cracked me up!

  • Bella F.
    July 27, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I’m not big on fate so I’m gonna go with choice (Light Timekeeper.)Any time I think about destiny and things possibly being pre-determined it just doesn’t make much sense

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    July 27, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    I would be a Light Timekeeper because we always have a choice on our decisions but sometimes a Dark Timekeeper would apply because fate does have a say in some of the things that happen. I think we all have a combination of both. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

  • heatwave16
    July 27, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    I am a light timekeeper, because I believe it is the choices we make that ultimately determine our fate. πŸ™‚


  • JenM
    July 27, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Our culture is strongly geared toward belief in choice, so it’s not surprising that’s what everyone is picking, but if you asked this question in a different culture, I bet you’d get different results. As for me – choice all the way.

  • adrienne
    July 27, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    I’m glad that someone feels the way I do about Lost…I haven’t been able to erase the last episode from my dvr. So Madison. .count me in for the give away please! I will give Mad and the crew another shot…I got to go for dark. People will do want they want..even with The choice

  • Tina
    July 27, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    I lean pretty heavily towards the belief in choice. I don’t know if I don’t believe in fate because the concept scares me or just because it’s not how I was raised, or what. So I guess I’m a Light Timekeeper.

    Thanks for the awesome contest! I read the first book in this series and really enjoyed it. I’m glad for the chance to win πŸ™‚

    Skibunny9197 (at) aol (dot) com

  • Jacqueline C.
    July 27, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    While I do believe in fate somewhat, I’d have to go with Light Timekeeper. I like to think that I have control over most of what happens to me.

  • Laura
    July 28, 2010 at 12:09 am

    I guess I’m going to buck the trend here. πŸ™‚ Dark Timekeeper. Awesome giveaway!

  • Jennifer
    July 28, 2010 at 1:05 am

    I think I would also be a Light Timekeeper. I like to be in control of my situation, and able to make decisions on my own. But even with that, I just don’t trust the current Light Timekeepers in this series. Looking forward to seeing how they are developed as the series continues.

  • Kris
    July 28, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Hmm, unfortunately I have not been able to get into Kim’s writing. I’ve read both of the Madison books but I struggled the whole way through. I didn’t even finish the first book in her Adult UF series. I’m going to give her another try eventually, though. She has so many fans, and a diverse fan base at that. When I was at Supernatural Summer in SD this year, she had kids to senior dudes show up with stacks of her books. Impressive!

  • CrystalGB
    July 28, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Light Timekeeper. Great giveaway. Thanks for the chance.

  • Tanya
    July 28, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Hmm I’d say I’m Fate the Dark time keeper πŸ˜† πŸ˜‰

  • Ellaanabeth
    July 28, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I am definitely a light timekeeper- choice trumps fate every time!

  • Robin K
    July 28, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Oh… is there a middle ground? A murky keeper? I would be a murky keeper. Otherwise if I had to choose one of the others I would go dark πŸ™‚

  • Kassandra
    July 28, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    I guess Fate. The Darktime keeper. πŸ˜€

  • Keri
    July 28, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    I’m definitely light. I believe everything is a choice, and we create our own destiny.

    This series looks good – I’ll have to pick up the first book!

  • alana
    July 28, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Light Timekeeper all the way. I don’t believe in fate. lol

  • Lisa Richards
    July 28, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    I think the Dark Lightkeeper would be a very interesting job.

  • Courtney
    July 28, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    I would have to say Light Timekeeper!

  • Contest Roundup: YA lit edition | Vampire Book Club
    July 29, 2010 at 6:24 am

    […] The Book Smugglers (we love this blog). They’ve smuggled outΒ two copies of Kim Harrison’s Early to Death, Early to Rise (book 2 in the Madison Avery series) for their readers. Enter by July 31 for your chance to win. […]

  • Van P.
    July 29, 2010 at 10:18 am

    light keeper. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Adelina
    July 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I think light keeper. But I’d like to be a little bit of both.

  • Sami Thomson
    July 29, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Light Timekeeper – everyone has a choice – your fate is based off the choices you make!

  • Lisa Stovall
    July 29, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I would be a Light Timekeeper because your choices make you who you are, good or bad.

  • Elizabeth
    July 29, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    This is a difficult one for me because I believe in fate but I also believe in choices that lead to that “fate.” Now that I have ranted I will say Dark!

    Count me in on the giveaway please.

  • Stacey
    July 30, 2010 at 8:00 am

    I would have to say that I am a little bit of both. Please count me in the contest. heard of the contest through. Vampirebookclub.net

  • Ladytink_534
    August 1, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    I’ve been wanting to read this! I like the idea of Light Timekeeper though I do believe some things are fate, things we do (choice) change our fate continuously if that makes any sense.

  • Sabrina
    September 5, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    i think that being a lightkeeper sounds fun and exciting but if i had to choose it would be dark time keeper. i would choose this because i would like to prove that you can give people a chance and maybe they’re fate will change so that don’t have to die. πŸ˜› πŸ’‘

  • Ke'Shawna Brown
    September 13, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    I’m going with light time keeper of course everyone should have a choice

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