Book Review: The Death I Gave Him by Em X. Liu

Hayden and his father have been working on a formula to reverse death, but then Hayden finds his father murdered in his lab and the AI that records everything tampered with. The building goes into lockdown with the killer still inside, and Hayden, with the help of the AI, is determined to keep the formula out of their hands.

Book Cover - The Death I Gave Him by Em X. Liu
Title: The Death I Gave Him
Pages: 432
My Rating: 3 Stars
More Info: Goodreads // Amazon // Publisher


*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*

I’m sad to say it, because there was a lot of cool stuff here, but I couldn’t really get into this. It was sorta found footage, mixed with some of the usual “seeing through the character in the moment” storytelling, and found footage isn’t something I tend to like because it makes me feel distanced. Personally, I think I might’ve enjoyed this more if it didn’t have the found footage angle and were more focused on Hayden’s POV, even if that meant it were shorter. He was the most interesting character to me. But I’m not even sure if this was Hayden’s story or Felicia’s, since so much of it was her POV.

Anyway, here are some of the cool things you’ll get with this book:

– Characters who are seriously Not Ok.
– An AI who would do anything for the human he loves.
– A mind/body connection between said human and AI.
– Locked room murder mystery (well, more of a locked building thriller).
– Hamlet retelling.
– Some lyrical writing.

One more thing to mention, none of the characters were particularly likeable, and they didn’t act in ways I would think a person would actually act in the situation. To be fair, a killer is already acting in a way most people wouldn’t act, so ok. And the more I got to know Hayden, the more it became clear he was already unraveling at the seams, even before this whole thing. But everyone else seemed weirdly accepting of the situation and willing to put themselves in the middle of things. I suppose they sort of had to be for the mystery/thriller though, or maybe for the retelling.

Overall, this was definitely not bad! Just not quite for me. But the writing was nice, and perhaps readers who remember Hamlet better than I do will be able to better appreciate the twists on the story and enjoy this more.

*Rating: 3 Stars // Read Date: 2023 // Format: Ebook via TTS*


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  1. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    I do agree with you about the characters not being particularly likable. I was actually really on the fence about whether I wanted to rate this 3.5 or 4, but because I was on the fence I rounded up because I guess I feel bad? Heh. Anyway I think it actually maybe was good I didn’t remember Hamlet? Like maybe I would have known what was coming more than I did and would have liked it less? Who knows! I did really like the style of the story though, and I would definitely read more from the author. Great review, sorry it wasn’t a huge win for you!

    1. Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight)

      I often round up too, it’s ok lol. I get what you mean about not seeing things coming, I just wonder if maybe I’d have noticed clever twists on the story and enjoyed it more for that? I would try more from this author too though! It did have good writing. I’m glad you liked it more!