Cover Image: Dare to Know

Dare to Know

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Dare to Know is a book that has a simple concept within its pages and the blurb very much encapsulates this - hence why I asked to read the novel. The story follows a deadbeat salesmen but their product is a little bit unusual. Instead of selling cars or a holiday; he sells the knowledge of when you will die. The novel follows this unnamed character as he discovers his own death date, the story then unravelling to follow his life up until this point and how he got into this business and how he discovered this information. However, what the blurb hides really well is the fact this book is hazardous in the way the story is written and the quirky sections that are mixed in. 
Dare to Know has a selection of characters in which the story introduces - I didn't mind any of these characters and found them at times interesting, however I felt at times the story didn't take the characters anywhere of interest or left them in limbo without much explanation. The main character himself, I liked and his inner dialogue were sometimes amusing and awkward - questioning his circumstances and generally demonstrating that he doesn't a full grasp of the situation. It was these pages that pulled me along the most - enjoying his pondering, wondering if it will lead him anywhere. 
The issue that I had with this novel was the randomness - especially within the first half of the novel. The novel would jump from past, present and future, stuffing randomness in between these pages. This made it at some points tricky to follow the story or to build a connection with the character. I didn't find myself enjoying the book until a third of the way in and even then it was a slow build up. This randomness is calmed down during the later half - with the author concentrating the story more on the unnamed main characters but they did slide in some extremely stage moments. Now the ending itself was......odd - their were connections that were linked within the story, which was great to see the story coming into a full circle, however this didn't prevent or fully explain the ending itself. 
Overall, I did enjoy Dare to Know in parts and I always enjoy reading a novel that is a different and more original, and this story fits that bill nicely. I think readers may find this novel challenging and it would be more enjoyable for the niche Sci-fi reader, who enjoys a crazier story line.
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This book survives on its uniqueness and not on its prose.  The writing style is a little off putting and it tends to wander, drag, and circle back on itself.  I think this was an intentional attempt at keeping the reader in the same level of confusion as the characters.  When you can tell anyone exactly when they will die, can you truly understand what this information means to someone when you don’t know what it means to you?  No.  Not really.  And so, an accident sends our MC on a journey of not just discovery but of facing his own past and his own choices.  On some levels it worked and on some levels it missed.  I guess that is the definition of a 4 star books. Parts were 5 and parts were three,.  In a book about math, let’s take the mean and call it a 4.
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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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I was lured by the premise of this book: a company that uses some kind of molecular science to determine someone’s year of death to paying customers? Yes, tell me more! However, the book failed to deliver anything interesting to me, and ended up being more a narrative story about how this main guys life has fallen apart. I ultimately found I didn’t really care about the main character or the complete and detailed history of his life. What I wanted to know more about was the science or just have more anecdotal experiences with this death date, but it was EXTREMELY in the background. Sometimes I even forgot that that was a theme of the book with some especially long historical descriptions. I think the comparison to “Dark Matter” and “Annihilation” were way of base, since both books include more about the science aspects than this book did. I just found myself bored, unfortunately.
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It's been a long time since I read a book that was such a page-turner. I just could not wait to find out how the whole science/business of predicting the exact time of a person's death would turn out. While there are several significant characters in the story, it is all told through the voice of the narrator, who seems increasingly unreliable. But he always tells a compelling story, which constantly shifts between the present and the past.

In many ways the stories from the past are the most interesting, especially given the beaten, end of the road life presented at the start of the story. But that is the situation that triggers the whole narrative. After desperately forcing a client to accept her death date calculation, a crash in a snowstorm finally compels the narrator to calculate the time of his own death, an act which is strictly forbidden.

This sends him on a cross-country flight to reclaim part of his past, which he sees as a one-way trip right from the start. After arriving in San Francisco to visit his former lover Julia things quickly spiral downward, and all of the connections to an ancient religion and its human sacrifices that have been recurring start to make sense. While the end of the world narrative in the climax ties the story together thematically, it was not completely satisfying for me. It may have technically completed the story, but it left too many narrative loose ends unresolved.
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A strange, quirky, and exciting book! I wasn't sure what to expect as the story got underway, but I was hooked almost immediately. It was an intense ride up until the end which I felt was a bit confusing and not entirely satisfying, but otherwise I really enjoyed the book.

Thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing an ARC for review. I do want to point out that it was difficult to read because the Kindle edition that was provided has many formatting problems.
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Holy shit this book was wild. Just...the most mind-bending thing I have ever read, full stop.

I thought I knew what this book would be like; I read the summary, and the "letter to the reader" at the beginning was, in my opinion at the time of reading it, too detailed and spoilery. I thought it gave away exactly where the book was going.

I could not have been more wrong.

This book takes you on a journey for a while. It feels dark and weird, sure, but it also feels relatively expected. I took notes about how it felt aggressively white, and I rolled my eyes at some of the male-centric pieces I disliked.

But I don't even know how to talk about this book without giving it away...it's like one of those things where the premise is built on a twist, so you can't tell people *why* they should read/watch it, but you just reassure them "trust me, it gets better."

I don't know that I'd necessarily recommend this to anyone; it kind of fucked me up. It ended, and I was reeling, and then the eARC I got just went on with white pages for a while. There wasn't anything at the end to bring me back into the real world, no note from the author, nothing. I just was stuck having had this experience that no one could possibly understand or relate to.

What I will say is that this book made me think, and is still making me think. Kennedy is also amazing at referencing earlier small parts of the text that you nearly could have missed; all the little details we learn about the narrator's life, every small strange thing or tangent off to the side, it all comes back in the end. And it doesn't feel forced, even though it doesn't feel natural either—how could it, given how strange the ending is.

This book is a masterpiece, and unlike anything I've ever read. I don't know if I can forget it, even though part of me wishes I could.

Thank you to Netgalley and Quirk Books for the chance to review this ARC.
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I DNR-ed this around 20%. The sci-fi element unfortunately is just not for me. 

I think this would be a great book for many others!
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Very very interesting. I adored the first 85% or so, and must admit I was a bit lost in the end. Still, definitely worth a read. I am anxious to see if other readers have the same experience.
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Twisty, thought provoking, and delightfully quirky doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of this wild thrill ride of a novel. Set aside a day and the better part of a night, because putting your copy of Dare to Know aside won’t be an option.
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He is the top saleperson for Dare To Know, the mysterious company who pioneered a very unique technology that can calculate the exact time of a clients death. As one of the people who worked to develop what is know as 'Thanatos Theory' - he understands the science better than most.  But away from work, things aren't great. He's divorced, broke, estranged from his children and his life is falling apart. So after one particularly disasterous sale which ends in his car crashing in the dead of the night, he throws caution to the thing and breaks the golden rule of Dare To Know ... and he looks up his own death.

But he died twenty-six minutes ago. 

The only other person who can help is Julia, his ex-girlfriend who was there for the inception of Thanatos Theory and the only person who has the answer he's looking for. On his journey to find her, he not only has to confront his own past, but the terrifying future that may or may not be waiting for him.

Dare to Know has been described as an 'adrenaline-filled thriller' but it's something else entirely. Rather than a race to a final epic finale, this was a convoluted, shifting fever dream of a story that was more like a confused walk around labyrinth instead of a sprint along a race track. Starting off polished and poised, our nameless narrator slowly broke down into the erratic and absurd as we approached our chaotic conclusion. The writing style was something unique, visceral and disjointed - which at times definitely was a bit too much for me but worked somehow. It was almost incoherent at points but stylishly so. 

As we flash back to the highs of our narrators life - his loves, his losses, the high points and downfalls, it's all to easy to get drawn into his world. He starts societal discussions about the pressures of careers and relationships, then jumping into deep philosophy about life and death. 

Honestly, I don't think I still understand where we ended up but I know I had a great time on the journey there. It kind of felt like Sci-Fi Metamorphosis on acid, and I can say without certainty you will either entirely love or loathe this genre-blending whirlwind of a book.
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From the striking cover to the even more intriguing premise, I was looking forward to reading Dare to Know. A Matrix comparison is always going to be a read for me, so I quickly dove in. 

When a salesman for a company that can accurately predict your time of death decides to break the cardinal rule and look at his own information, he's not prepared for what he finds. According to the system, he should be dead already, and the only way to find out for sure what happened is to go to Julia.

I liked this book. 

I really enjoyed the set-up, and the opening chapters screamed of a modern-day Death of a Salesman. It had that same tragic downfall, the same atmosphere of doubt and depression, and you want to root for our narrator. The overarching themes, too, of self-examination and determining self-worth worked well within the confines of his character.  

I had some difficulty completely being immersed in the events, however. The flashbacks were well structured and the prose is well-written, but the timeline was a bit too meandering to completely hold my attention. Is this a book that makes you think? Absolutely. Would I read more of Kennedy's work? Without a doubt. And this might be an instance where a translation to film works better in order to create a cohesive spark. 

Thank you to Quirk Books and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.
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I wanted to like this, but was ultimately unsatisfied with how the conclusion came to be. I felt this was very disjointed, with a narrative hard to follow and characters to hate and not enjoy. Thank you for the e-arc.
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From the publisher: Our narrator is the most talented salesperson at Dare to Know, an enigmatic company that has developed the technology to predict anyone’s death down to the second. Divorced, estranged from his sons, and broke, he’s driven to violate the cardinal rule of the business by forecasting his own death day. The problem: his prediction says he died twenty-three minutes ago. The only person who can confirm its accuracy is Julia, the woman he loved and lost during his rise up the ranks of Dare to Know. As he travels across the country to see her, he’s forced to confront his past, the choices he’s made, and the terrifying truth about the company he works for. Wildly ambitious and highly immersive, this mind-bending thriller explores the destructive power of knowledge and collapses the boundaries between reality, myth, and conspiracy as it races toward its shocking conclusion.

What the heck did I just read? This is one trippy novel. Am I reading the thoughts of a madman, or is the world really coming to an end?

The time is now, or around now, or not too long from now. Using weird math, nonsense queries, giant tomes called The Books of the Dead, particles called thanatons, and staff who know that “To do the math makes the math come true” (p. 11 of the advance reader copy), the company Dare to Know can tell you the exact time and date of your death. 

Our narrator has worked for Dare to Know since the beginning. The company is not what it once was. It costs a lot to be told when you will die, and in the early days the company was like an internet startup: its employees were rich, with swanky offices and lots of support staff. But times have changed. The shine of knowing when you are going to die has dimmed a bit. Now our 49-year-old narrator ekes out a living with no admin help, living out of his car half the time, wearing crumpled clothing and always desperate for a sale.

As the story moves forward we revisit his past. The genius friend he met at eighth grade physics camp. His fear of the Beatles. The love of his life he met in college. The ex-wife he settled for. The sons he hardly knows. An aversion to all things computer once he started predicting death – “the way computers do math feels like chewing tinfoil.” (p. 47) His musings become increasingly unhinged – or do they?  

This is a weird book. Very math-y and philosophical. At times almost stream of consciousness but not quite. The math makes no sense. The nonsense questions people are asked, and the nonsense answers they give in return, make no sense. Thanatons – subatomic particles quantum-entangled in human death. (Say what?) “Subjective mathematics” that includes calculations that computers simply can’t perform. A process that is “some combination of math problem and pagan ritual”.  (p. 68) 

But I set my skepticism aside, and each time I picked up Dare to Know I felt myself fall into the narrator’s mind, where I was irresistibly compelled to keep reading. The publisher compares Dare to Know to Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation, but it reminds me more of Edgar Allen Poe’s Tell-tale Heart, with a bit of Ulysses by James Joyce thrown in. For Illinoisans looking for a local connection, the Cahokia Mounds play a very important role in the narrative.

I recommend Dare to Know for readers who like novels that are way off the beaten path and make you think. I read an advance reader copy of Dare to Know. It is scheduled to be published on September 14 and will be available at the Galesburg Public Library in print and as an ebook. (Or will it? Depends on whether the world comes to an end.)
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I had difficulty getting through this book and had to stop a few chapters into it.  I typically thoroughly enjoy this genre and remain a fan of Black Crouch's Dark Matter. This one fell short for me.  I don't know if it was because of the overly staccato nature of the protagonist's speech and thought, or if it was too much like the classic Death of a Salesman.
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I didn't love this book, however I will say that maybe this book just wasn't for me and maybe if it found the right reader, then someone could love it. For about the first half of the book I just about knew what was happening, but after that I spent most of the time confused at what was actually going on. I loved the concept of this book and the idea of being able to predict death really intrigued me. I felt like if this was explored more then this would have developed the idea further perhaps, and created a more coherent world.
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Difficult to quickly encapsulate, this novel does have the flavor of Blake Crouch in parts but feels much more campy. The narrative is hard to follow in places, but, ultimately, satisfying.
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Ok. I’m not sure I understand what I just read….. parts were fantastic and I just couldn’t put the book down.  Other parts I felt went on a bit too long….  I rated it a 3 but it might actually be more of a 2 star in some parts.  If you like books that are mind bending and leave you with questions than you’ll love this one.  If you want all your questions answered and a nice neat ending this is not for you!  That you to Netgalley for for the opportunity to read this ARC.
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Dare to Know follows a down-on-his-luck narrator who has obviously been hardened by the world. His company, originally called Sapere Aude, can provide clients the time of their death with 100 percent certainty. A competing company offers the time of death with less certainty, but at a cheaper price and also include the how of one's death. Add in the fact that the narrator is divorced, and it's clear the narrator is burnt out.

A number of reviewers compared this work to Philip K. Dick and Blake Crouch, but I think both are wildly inaccurate. Crouch's books have a break-neck pace and Dick's are more cerebral. That isn't to say that Dare to Know isn't thought-provoking; it definitely is, However, I found the publisher's suggestion of Charlie Kaufman more apt, as well as David Lynch. There are scenes where strange things quickly occur that reminded me of Lynch in a 'Did that really just happen?' kind of way. 

The story is told mostly through flashback. The flashbacks to summer camp with the narrator and his friend Renard were effective, brought back memories of summer camp for me. The flashbacks with the narrator and his Julia were mostly successful, although certain parts didn't ring true. For instance, there is a scene where they are golfing together and the narrator hits a flying goose with his golf ball. That felt like a stretch and the ensuing dialogue was a bit stilted. That said, the overall feel of the relationship took me back to past relationships, so I have to give the author for creating something that felt authentic overall. On the whole, Dare to Know is a strange but worthwhile read. 

Thanks to NetGalley and Quirk Books for the ARC--Quirk is putting out a lot of great fiction!
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The narrator of Dare to Know is a down-on-his-luck salesman with an intriguing product to sell: he can mathematically predict the exact date and time of your death. The algorithm has never once been wrong – the method is foolproof. His competitors are less accurate, but cheaper, and can also predict the “how” of your death - and this innovation in the field is putting him out of business. In a desperate moment, he does the one thing people in his line of work are never supposed to do – he runs the numbers to find the moment of his own death. And what he finds is impossible: according to the math, he died twenty-three minutes ago. 

I was expecting something a little more intrigue-y or action-y from this. The publisher’s blurb calls it an “adrenaline-fueled thriller,” but after reading the novel, I have to wonder whether they and I read the same book. Instead, this book follows along as the narrator’s life completely unravels - and his sanity with it, in a weird, trippy fashion that reminds me of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Most of the book is spent either in flashback, as we learn what brought the narrator to this point, or in weird hallucinatory insanity, the reason for which makes much more sense once you get to the end, which has a twist that was somehow both surprising and obvious. 

I enjoyed this book, but I’m giving it 4 stars instead of 5 just because so much of the trippy stuff was hard to follow and didn’t keep my attention well. I kept wanting to skip ahead to a scene that made sense. 

Tw: drug use, alcoholism, miscarriage
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