Cover Image: Dare to Know

Dare to Know

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Member Reviews

This is an oddly strange but absorbing book. The writing was very good but the story had so many odd moments that it really stuck with me after I was done.
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When I first read about this book, I was excited about the whole idea of it. Even in the beginning, I felt like this was going to be one of those binge reads, but the style of the writing could save this story for me. It was very difficult to get through and struggled to get to the end. 

I can see where others may like the book, just wasn't for me. Because of this, I chose not to review it on a public forum.
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This is a clever and very fun journey of a book.  I loved the progression of the story, and the twists and turns were just fantastic.  Really enjoyed it!
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**Thank you to NetGalley and Quirk Books for the eARC of this interesting title!**

I really wanted this to be a five star read for me based on the description. The narrator works for a company called “Dare To Know” that uses an interesting bit of physics to predict people’s exact time of death. 

It started out pretty strong for me with a lot of interesting elements and a fast moving plot. I absolutely adored James Kennedy’s style of writing and will be checking out more of his work. With that being said, the characters in this book fell short for me and I disliked them almost immediately. The narrator is off-putting and associates himself with equally icky people. I found myself rolling my eyes through a lot of the dialogue and awkward human interactions that our narrator went through.

The timelines were equally as difficult to care about, as they jumped from not only past and present but also to a fairy tale story told by the narrator. Sounds confusing - right?! 

The science fiction aspects of this book were great and I found myself pretty hooked on the actual explanation of death prediction and how that all fit into the universe. The last 40 pages or so took a weird, fantastical turn that to me made them feel disconnected from the main story line. Maybe I just didn’t “get” this book, but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I had hoped.

I would recommend this book for fans of science fiction specifically centered around hard physics and dystopian style plots.
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2.5 stars. This was a compelling read in some ways, but left me disappointed overall. I am not a fan of magical realism at the best of times, and the warping of time and space, along with the heavy dose of philosophy/mathematics, did not appeal. I didn't get a sense of closure at the end, and there were parts where it really dragged. Plus, the protagonist wasn't exactly a very likeable person, which always makes it extra hard to get invested.

What I did find intriguing was subjective mathematics—have gone down an internet rabbit hole looking that up.

(Review copy from NetGalley)
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It's not surprising that this book is published by a publisher named "Quirk Books" given how eccentric it is. What I find most interesting is that this type of book definitely isn't for me (as a sci-fi, futuristic thriller type), yet I found myself compelled to read it. I was intrigued by the description of "man works for a business that predicts when one will die" and was surprised by the direction the story takes through the end. 

I was invested in the main character's back story and his relationships with others despite my surprise and occasional confusion. I'd consider this book thrilling, but I wonder if I was able to fully appreciate it. If you're openminded and into rapid perspective-shifting, snark, and a bit of horror this is probably for you.

Although I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library I'd also like to thank Quirk Books who gave me access to a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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"Much, much weirder than the marketing makes it seem. I actually think the feverish denouement places this book in horror territory more than sci-fi. It put me in mind of Drew Magary's <i>The Hike</i>, where the journey is full of symbolism but I didn't have the energy to bother figuring it all out.

That said, I am now obsessed with the Cahokia Mounts in Illinois. Definitely look it up.

Received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review."
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Wow, what a ride this story is, I read it in two days because I couldn't stop reading. It starts out describing the main character's mundane and pretty depressing life. While reminiscing, he thinks a lot about his former girlfriend Julia and tells us about how the company got started, and about the science behind thanatons, it was so interesting! The narration is pretty stream-of-consciousness style, which fits this book very well. Somewhere after the middle point of the book the story starts becoming more and more psychedelic and leaves the reader wondering whether the narrator is out of his mind or if this is really happening. After finishing the book my first thoughts were "what did I just read?" It's an awesome but extremely confusing story!
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An original and clever techno-thriller, reminiscent of Haruki Murakami and William Gibson. The concepts the book touches on - isolation, the true cost of technology, regret - are things that stick with you and I find myself going back to certain interactions and moments fairly often
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I'm so torn on what to write for this one.  The premise was great and had me intrigued, but as the story unfolded, the flashbacks, which utlimately did play an important part of the book, seemed very disorganized in the first half of the book and it seemed there was more flashbacks than story.  While the book starts out as a sci fi thriller, it at some point changes to a fantasy story.  I am not a huge fantasy lover, so I may not be the book's target audience.
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If you could find out your exact time of death down to the last second, would you take up the option? For some it could be liberating, they will pack their lives until the last moment. For others, their death will become even more of a looming presence as it draws ever near. In James Kennedy’s Dare to Know an entire industry has built up around predicting death dates with unerring accuracy. Whilst once the option was only for the rich, now most people can pay for the service, so would you? 

Our narrator is a salesperson who works for the death prediction company Dare to Know. A once lucrative job has been on the slide for years as more companies join the marketplace and drive down prices. Our narrator now finds himself in a mix of an existential and midlife crisis. He is constantly on the road, earning pittance and has an ex-Wife and kids to support. When he decides to look up his own death date it sparks off a series of memories from throughout his life and may just open a paradox in time and space itself. 

You start off reading Dare thinking it is one thing, only for it to morph into something else. The central premise is high concept, but simple enough. Death can be calculated. At this junction Kennedy could have left it simply as that and written a book about a salesperson handing out death notices, but it is a much deeper and introspective book than that. The concept of how death is calculated is central to the book. The narrator is a physician and was at the beginnings of the application of science behind it. There is detail on the discovery and process behind how Dare to Know works. 

The book is told from the narrator’s point of view but bounces around his life as he remembers the past. This allows us to see him as a young man, meeting his first love, his wife and even what led to the divorce. You get a rounded picture of the narrator, someone who has made mistakes in their life. Are they a bad person? They are certainly not perfect and not always nice to like. By having a flawed figure at the centre, Kennedy weighs the book in a sense of reality, which is important when things start to go a gonzo later in the narrative. 

There is a lot of character development in Dare, and this does affect the pacing. Every time you get close to a reveal, we are transported to some other time in the narrator's life for a few pages. Fans of deep characters will enjoy this, but pacy thriller fans will find it slow going. 

The science behind how death is calculated and eventually the narrator predicts his own death date. Doing this leads to unforeseen consequences and threads hidden throughout the book start to make sense. Elements of the narrator’s past have an uncomfortable feel as if something is not quite right. It is a tone that makes sense as the book concludes. Fans of deep dive science fiction constructs will enjoy this element of the book as the reader can try and unravel what is happening. 

The way that the book warps as it progresses means that it is a challenging read. A character piece becomes avant-garde. Concentration is required to follow the final act as things for the narrator and therefore the reader begin to distort. The book is perfect for science fiction readers who like their concepts intelligent and complex, but also like to have characters with developed personalities.
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This wasn’t for me. I was intrigued by the process of death prediction, its effects on society and the science of subjective math. I also enjoyed the relationships between the protagonist and Julia, his college sweetheart, and Renard, a boy who made a huge impression on him at summer physics camp as a child. However, the philosophical tangents on historical cycles in civilizations stood out as an odd outtake for me, and when it went off on this bizarre connection to supernovas and a society sacrificing its members to prevent the end of the world, it lost me. It kind of reminded me of The Hike by Drew Magary. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Quirk Books for the free copy provided for an honest review
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Wow! I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I don't know what exactly I would classify this as... science fiction? Mystery? Dystopian? Wherever it fits, I don't usually read a lot of books in those genres, so I went a bit out of my comfort zone for this one. I read the synopsis on NetGalley and thought it sounded interesting and decided to give it a shot.

The narrator, who remains unnamed throughout the book, works for a company called Dare to Know. Patrons can pay to learn the exact date and time of their death. It is forbidden for employees to calculate their own death dates, but the narrator does it anyway. The problem? He died 23 minutes ago. He goes on a journey trying to find out why or how exactly this is possible and tracks down the one person who may have the answer, his former colleague and ex-girlfriend, Julia.

This book involves a good amount of math, science, fantasy, and some things that seem like straight-up nonsense. There were some parts that I had to read, then re-read because they were a bit strange. But wouldn't you expect strange, given that the character works for a company like Dare to Know? I really liked the writing. I liked that the author switched between present day and past timelines like when the narrator attended physics camp and early days at Dare to Know.

Thank you, NetGalley and Quirk Books, for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Dare to Know bills itself as an ‘adrenaline fuelled thriller’ that gave me serious Minority Report vibes as I read the blurb. A man who is able to 100% accurately predict when people will die finds an issue with his date of death and races against the clock to work out what this means for civilisation as we know it.

Marketing companies for books have to be so careful with what they promise. I’ve lost count of the amount of times a tagline has told me a book is ‘hilarious’ which has made me resent it even more for not making me smile, or a thriller tells me about the ‘mind-blowing’ twist on its cover which then sets me up for second guessing everything I get told and I either guess it really early, or picture a new and different twist that would have worked a lot better than what I was ultimately presented with. Dare to Know falls into this trap completely. We are promised an ‘adrenaline fuelled thriller’ and yet what we get is a very slow-moving character driven sci-fi plot filled with a lot of physics and philosophical debate. On the one hand its an interesting story but it was certainly not what I was expecting from the blurb and meant that I walked away disappointed.

Not much happens in Dare to Know; the story is focussed around the main character and we find out everything about him in flashback; from his childhood, to his Uni days, to his work history and all of his relationships with his wife, childhood sweetheart and mistresses. These stories are intertwined with present day - a slow moving narrative of him finding out what day he is due to die and going to visit his ex-girlfriend to corroborate the story. There’s some funny wit in the writing style and also some really good concepts which make you think about the world we live in and the consequences of being able to predict when someone will die. 

I was on board and understanding the plot until I got to the last quarter of the book (from meeting the lady in the hotel room) and then it all got very weird, very quickly. I found myself racing through the pages to try and work out what was going on and the ending left me very confused. From suddenly going from being too slow, the plot raced ahead in a very jarring transition that I didn’t enjoy and didn’t make very much sense.

Overall Dare to Know asks some interesting questions but goes from being very slow and a bit boring, to fast paced but rambling and confusing. Thank you to NetGalley & Quirk Books for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Thanks Quirk Books and Netgalley for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

I can see precisely why it's pitched to fans of Dark Matter. Though this book had a darker undertone to its story, I can see the similarities between them. I loved the first 70%. It was snappy, gave me chills at all the right places, very geeky, and sparked a great discussion on perceptions of reality and life, and freewill. The main character was self-absorbed, sometimes problematic, and had some pretty messed up thoughts, but I liked that we got to explore where his decisions, good or bad had led him, as well as the triumphs and trials he went through. I was also very drawn to his relationship with Julia. The writing was a bit too choppy for my taste. I didn't like the overwhelming amount of rhetorical questions and stream of consciousness writing style. But I just went along and kinda got used to it by the end.

But the last 30%...can we pretend it never existed. The ending reminded me of All The Birds In the Sky, nonsensical and confusing. Some people might enjoy the ambiguity and chaos, but not me. The parallel between the fable/fairytale and "reality" was interesting, but I had no idea what was going on. It was gibberish and strings of words that made no sense to me. I think this says more about my taste than the book itself tho, because I've never been a fan of magical realism, plus I really did like the majority of the story and would gladly reread it, so I gave it 3 stars!
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I had to DNF this book at around the 50% mark. While the premise sounded good, it just didn't capture my attention at all, I couldn't keep up with the plot after the first 35% or so and I found myself not wanting to pick it back up. That said, the writing was good and the book felt modern.

For the right person, I'm sure this would be a smash hit, but sadly for me, it wasn't
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Dare To Know is such an incredibly thought provoking and mind bending novel, and it really worked for me, save a few minor issues. On the whole, it was compulsively readable as I was kind of needing all the answers, even if our main character was sort of The Worst™.

What I Liked:

►So thought provoking! Look, there is no actual way you could read this book and not wonder what you would do. Would you shell out the cash to find out when you'd die? I say no way, but there were even cases of employers checking on employees! Talk about a world I'd not want to live in. But it's so interesting, to read not only about people's reasons for wanting to know, but their responses when they do. Because regardless of how it shakes out, I think you'd be disappointed? Like, even if it tells you you'll live to 100, aren't you low key pissed that you won't be a supercentenarian? I digress, the whole concept is beyond fascinating.

►I was super invested in the outcome. We'll talk about the character more later, but despite his shortcomings, it's such a curious situation that I couldn't help but need to know how it would turn out. Not even just for him at that point, but for humanity at large.

►The business and psychology behind Dare To Know was endlessly fascinating. Like, can you even imagine? Meeting some random businessperson in a Starbucks to find out when you'd die? I found the whole business aspect so great, because it's obviously not always going to be a popular business model (and you never have repeat customers!) so I loved those intricacies. They also of course had to deal with the psychological (and societal) fallout of having such information, which intrigued me immensely.

►There are a lot of great twists! Some I loved and some I was more confused by, but I loved that in no way could I predict the outcome of this story, and it constantly kept me guessing!

►The narrator was just... a dude. He wasn't anything particularly special, other than a bit of a knack for mathematics. Thing is, he could have been anyone, and was, in a sense. He was down on his luck (and also down because he made terrible life choices and now was handling the fallout) and in a dying (no pun intended heh) industry, and now he has to reconcile with the choices he's made, the folks he's alienated, and is forced to cope with his ever-changing situation essentially by himself, as he's got no one left to care what happens to him.

What I Didn't:

►The end was a little... iffy for me. I hate when the ending is the thing I don't like, because how can I explain it?! Look, the book concludes in a fashion that is at least satisfactory, so I am not talking about an unsatisfying ending. It was more like, at a certain point, the book took a very different turn than I'd expected, and I had a hard time following that transition.

►Maybe our guy was a little too unlikable? Look, like I said above, I think that was part of the point. That dude could be "any man", you know? And he was, to an extent, but also I hated him. Again, I truly think that this was a purposeful choice, and I am mostly fine with it, I just think that some of the story would have had a bigger impact if I felt anything other than pity that this man chose to live his life this way? But truly (and oddly for me), it didn't impact my enjoyment of the story too much. But please be aware that this man sucks.

Bottom Line: I kept thinking about the concepts this book presented long after it was finished. Though I may not have quite understood it all in the end, it was still worth the ride.
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Going into this book, the premise seemed really interesting and something that I thought I’d like.  

The MC works as a salesman to sell the exact time of someone’s death.  Using science and physics and charts and books, the date is ALWAYS 100% accurate.  At least it’s always been accurate until the MC calculates his own death and finds he was meant to die 23 minutes ago.  

For the first 40% of the book, I kept up with the story.  The writing was hard to keep up with, to be honest, as it was told in chunks of sentences, and kept delving back into the past and then to present day and then to several different past memories, and then back to present day.  I finally figured out I really disliked the MC and his past girlfriend, who he seemed to still be obsessed with.

But then it just went downhill from there and I had no idea what was going on.  I had read some reviews that said the twists were really good, so I forced myself to stay with it.  I should have trusted my instincts and DNF’d this book as it seriously went down a rabbit hole and I had no idea what was really happening.  

The ending, oh my.  No clue what happened.  This book was nothing like a Dark Matters meets Annihilation.  I LOVED Dark Matters.  I didn’t like anything, except maybe the initial premise, about Dare to Know.  

*Thanks to Quirk Books and NetGalley for the advance copy.*
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Thank you to NetGalley and to Quirk Books for this ARC.

This is the most baffling book. I was into it, like a proper physics nerd (which cohort/demographic is probably the target market for this), for about ¾ of the book; and then, everything fell apart for me.

The narrator is unreliable (I decided after a while). Much of the book is his stream of consciousness. The premise is interesting: he can calculate when people die, and then he’s dead (not a spoiler), but not. It’s when all of the possible science meets fantasy/myth that I lose the plot. (Cahokia/king and princess as mathematical solution/what??)

I don’t know how I expected things to go, but this book went all the way left, and you really should have seen my face when I skimmed over the last few pages. I feel a bit cheated, because the early part was so good that I got really invested. The rest of it–I really don’t know what the book is about, in the end. Have I said this clearly enough?

Sigh.

So, probably not for me. Rated: 5/10 for all the mind-bending concepts, and even for the protagonist, who’s unlikeable and weird in a good way. I guess I would read it again, if it weren’t for the extremely weird bits.

Such a nice cover, too 🥲
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I have received this book in exchange of an honest review, thank you to NetGalley and Quirk Books for the opportunity.

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I got to 110 pages according to the NetGalley app or 36.2% and I think it's more than enough to see that this book is unfortunately, not for me. I personally like getting into my arcs a lot earlier than my other reads, simply because I enjoy getting my reviews out beforehand. However, I am a little saddened this time along as it was my first read of September and I ended up not enjoying it enough to continue.

So, what happened?

The first thing to notice here is the premise, as it is one of the most interesting ones I've ever read and because of that, automatically, has the potential to be great, which was not seized as well as it should have been. The world is extremely interesting because of this new angle of being able to tell when a person dies, some competition even goes as far as to tell how the death happens, but the actual science behind how this works is glossed over in the first 100 pages.

Instead I get to spend a considerable amount of time, going through memory lane with the unnamed main character. In another book, this might have been a good move, but in this book, I find it very difficult to care in any shape or form about him and his woes. One of the things that kills that potential to care, in my humble opinion, happens to be the way the narrative actually flows in the story. The timeline of his life stories jumps from different times in his past to the present and vice versa without a clear sequence of why it's happening like that.

I do know that there is a huge possibility everything is going to come together in the end for the plot to be more cohesive, but after 100+ pages without enjoyment, it's a bit hard to accept as a bait. The other killer in this case, happens to be the philosophical side of these trips, as even though it's bound to happen in a book about life and death, it's only coming off as pretentious.

Either way, flashbacks aren't bad whatsoever, as they are the easiest way to add the needed information to fill in gaps or anything of the sort. But, here, it's just used to give his life story in regards to a loved one or a friend while giving me bits and pieces of how this science actually started. I expected way more out of the science focus, and was saddened when the author opted to focus on his relationship with Julia for instance in a much bigger light than needed. The side with Renard, his friend, started becoming interesting after a while, but I was hanging by a thread by then... which snapped quite easily when the weird genitalia focus comments came into being as it is more than enough indication that this is really not for me.

I honestly do think that the potential to be great is there, however, it's literally buried under so much (seemingly) unnecessary things that it's hard for me to see it as well as I should have.
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