A review by cheryl6of8
This Is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death by


I won this book as a Goodreads giveaway, which I entered because it sounded like a quirky read. It was much different from what I was expecting.

First off, I have to say that I am still not sure if I would want to know how and/or when I am going to die, even if the prediction includes a play on words, as some do. Quite a few of the stories discuss that question in terms of whether it will allow you to be at peace and get on with doing what you want/need to do or whether it will be a burden that changes your fate.

Second, this book is a marvelous study aid if you are an aspiring or even published writer. Who would have thought there could be so many ways of writing a story based on the idea of a machine that tells how you will die? To that end, the first story in the book is a lovely way to begin (though, this being an anthology, you can skip around and read them in any order that works for you), because it is a simple story about love and family and choices -- no sci-fi/fantasy, futuristic, doomsday, or technical aspects at all. Other selections include a story featuring Sherlock Holmes, a choose-your-own-path story, a great comic take on the ironies of death featuring a self-proclaimed henchman, a story involving zombies, one that covers the French Revolution, one that is really reminiscent of Bradbury's Dandelion Wine, one addressing the AIDS crisis in Africa, and one that pays homage to Henrietta Lacks.

Did I like all of the stories? Actually, 95% of them at least. One left me rather puzzled, in part due to the style and in part due to the internal world being a little lacking in background (esp since I am not a huge fantasy/sci-fi reader), but even then it was good. The illustrations are really well done in that graphic novel style that works so well with the subject matter. All in all, a truly impressive compilation. I will keep a lookout for the original collection of stories, The Machine of Death, because I am curious what other ways the concept can be interpreted.