To Die For by Betsy Haynes
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (102 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
Larkin Quinn can’t wait until her heart transplant surgery is over so she can awaken to the beautiful and fun life she’s desired. But from the moment she opens her eyes, her world is dominated by terrifying nightmares where she is trapped underwater and blocked from reaching the surface. She wakes up each time screaming and drenched in sweat.
She needs to understand what these dreams mean. Are they messages from her heart donor? She fears he is demanding his life back in exchange for hers and wants revenge. Even more frustrating is that no one believes her about the nightmares. Why won’t anyone, not even her boyfriend Paul, help her? Larkin has to figure out what is going on with her new heart before it kills her.
She has someone else’s heart. Does she also have a few of his memories now?
Larkin was a sweetheart. Her anxiety over all of the strange things her body started doing after her heart transplant only made me like her more than I already did. Seeing her panic over every little twinge made her feel relatable to me. It was such a normal reaction to a serious surgery that I couldn’t help but to hope she would find a way to relax a little bit soon while also understanding why it was so hard for her to stop worrying.
There were a few mild pacing issues. I would have preferred to see a little more time spent on the main character’s attempts to figure out the identity of her donor and why he died so young. While I really liked seeing Larkin slowly recover after her surgery, those scenes did take up a large section of the storyline. It would have been the perfect introduction for a novel, but it was a bit disproportionate for a short story. This was the only thing holding this book back from a much higher rating as I enjoyed everything else about it.
By far my favorite part of the plot was the mystery of what happened to Larkin’s heart donor. She had so many clues about his fate, but they weren’t easy to figure out due to all of the hospital rules about what she could and couldn’t be told about his identity. I couldn’t wait to find out if she’d discover how it all fit together or why she kept dreaming about scary things that had never actually happened to her.
To Die For kept me on the edge of my seat. I’d recommend it to anyone who would like a science fiction story about something that a few transplant patients in real life have actually experienced.