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Book Review: “Dare to Know” the consequences of knowing your death & curiosity

Author James Kennedy answers the time-old question, "If you could find out when you die, would you?" in his latest sci-fi novel "Dare to Know" this September.

We follow the top salesman at Dare to Know, a cryptic company in the business of predicting death. Although highly skilled at death-predicting, our narrator leads a disappointing and stale life. A near-death experience–and curiosity–eventually drive him to break the cardinal sin of the business by predicting his own death, which according to his calculations, was 23 minutes ago.

On a quest to confirm his death, our narrator sets out to find Julia, the woman he once loved as a young man who once calculated his death. With every passing moment, the narrator spirals into his past, the choices he's made, and the mysteries surrounding his work for a compelling tale like no other.

Kennedy's imagination holds no bounds with "Dare to Know." This imaginative premise doesn't seem too far-fetched with Kennedy's somewhat plausible physics to back up the narrator's work. Maybe it's the believability of a company like Dare to Know existing that makes this such an immersive read. Yet, for a novel about knowing your death, there's little care for the mortality and ethical insights the topic would typically bring up in any other story or discussion.

Yet, it's only the imaginative premise that saves this novel from all of its downfalls. The narrator's timeline jumps all over the place, especially in the first half, which makes it difficult to see where the plot is going. There's cause to understanding the narrator's past and the choices that lead to the present-day events. Still, the flashbacks overshadow much of the first half and leave readers in the dust. Truthfully, if this novel was adapted to the screen, it would translate much better given the almost cinematic time jumps and pacing.

The novel could have been redeemed if there were dynamic, intriguing characters. The narrator and Julia can't keep up Kennedy's imagination and lack any sort of interest beyond being pretentious idiots. The narrator's obsession with Julia is shallow. It lacks the emotional magnitude he tried to convey through his memories and choices.

If anything, the premise alone makes "Dare to Know" such an enigmatic read even with all its flaws. Curiosity killed the cat, and Kennedy killed the opportunity for a genuinely ambitious story.

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