FeaturedYoung Adult Fantasy

The First Assignment


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When Shawn awakens from a mysterious death as a reaper, can he accept his new role as required? Or will he die again to save a mortal soul?

Shawn doesn't know how he died, but he knows he can die again. That is, unless he accepts the role of 'Reaper', and takes others' souls himself.

Swept up into an undead academy of twisted secrets, ancient traditions, and conflicting morals, Shawn only wants to survive his second (and final) life. The rules for his contract are simple. Do the job. Don't interact with living humans. Don't be late. Easy, right?

Until a living girl who shouldn't be able to see him suddenly can exactly that--and not just Shawn, she can see ALL the reapers. Facing someone who sees and understands their plight, Shawn must decide whether to follow his duty, or follow his gut.

The First Assignment swept me away from the very beginning. There's something magical about Kramer's writing style that made me feel like I was there, in the story with the characters. Through gory, gut-wrenching moments, to the small joys of living, reading this book puts what makes life worth living into the spotlight in a way that only darkness can allow to shine.

There is so much amazing world-building, rules, creative twists on classic undead creatures and creatures of the night (like Gargoyles) that I was swept away, and hints at glorious future battles and turmoil to come.

I will admit that I was very torn about whether to give this a 4-star or 5-star review, because there are some rough editing patches here and there and a couple world-building questions that would have been nice to see played out more. However, because those were small, side-plot questions and infrequent editing misses, the immersive world, gripping characters, and page-turning plot definitely earn it a 5-star in the end.

The First Assignment has definitely set the bar high for this series, and I will be eagerly awaiting what happens in volume two.

Though these characters are written in an academy setting similar to YA pieces, parents should be aware that some subject matter (mentioned at the end of this review in the trigger warnings) may be a bit morbid and graphic for the younger end of YA (12-year-olds). A parental review could help with that, though.

**Trigger Warnings: Death of a loved one, death/murder/attempted murder (including implied death/murder of minor children under age 18), suicide, torture, kidnapping, psychological torture/manipulation, blood/gore**

Reviewed by

I am a USA Today Bestselling author and developmental editor with 10+ years of experience. I am a huge fan of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, J.R.R. Tolkien, Clare B. Dunkle, and Timothy Zahn. I also enjoy indie works by Nicole Wells, Andrei Saygo, and Luke Courtney.

Chapter 1

About the author

Billy Kramer was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. After attending Grand Valley State, he went on to work in the advertising industry before pursuing his dreams of becoming a writer. Now living outside Detroit, he makes puns to annoy his friends and family while thinking of the new twists. view profile

Published on October 11, 2022

Published by

110000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

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