I'm the author of the ASHFALL three-and-a-half-ology: ASHFALL, ASHEN WINTER, SUNRISE, and DARLA'S STORY.
If you're into young adult novels, It's a Wonderful Death belongs on your must-read list for fall of 2015.
RJ (Rowena Joy) is the self-described queen bee of her high school. But unlike a bee, her stings aren't just annoyances--they sometimes have deadly consequences for those around her. So when the grim reaper harvests her soul by mistake, it's not at all clear whether she'll wind up in Heaven or Hell. She doesn't want to wind up in either--she'd rather get back to her life on earth. Can RJ convince a bunch of surly angels to give her another chance? And if she does, can she make the changes in her own personality to be worthy of that chance?
Schmitt channels a snarky teenager so well that if I hadn't met her, I'd swear she was one. The take-no-prisoners politics of Heaven and Hell lends tension to It's a Wonderful Death, and reminds me of the Sins of the Angels series by Linda Poitevin, another writer I admire.
And while It's a Wonderful Death is full of laugh-out-loud moments, the funny parts aren't what I remember as I write this review, several days after finishing the book. This is a book with a soul, at least in a metaphorical sense. RJ's journey is not, ultimately, about entertaining us, although Schmitt does that well. It's about what it means to live life well in an age of what sometimes seems like endemic Facebook-fueled narcissism.
If I had to sum it up in one sentence (which I guess I do, since I was given an advance copy of the book because I promised that if I liked it, I would offer a blurb), I'd write something like this:
"A snarky joyride of a book with a deep moral core; long after you've finished laughing, you'll still be thinking about RJ's journey and perhaps asking yourself: What defines a life well lived?"
Edit: Because I'm an idiot, I misspelled the author's name in the first version of this review. Sorry, Sarah!