Book Review: Death, the Pharmacist
Reviewed by Tavleen Kaur
A thoughtful commentary on the value of human lives
Death likes the systematic way in which he runs his pharmacy. He takes human lives when it is their time and doesn’t have any particular feelings about it. For him, that is just how things are. People are a herd of sheep. When asked to kill people, he doesn’t feel any different. That is, until a special human called Robinette enters Death’s domain and takes him into her world, the world of the living.
Death is not used to seeing people living their everyday lives. He’s used to the disciplined and mechanical functioning of his pharmacy. He has always been indifferent to taking the lives of people. That is his job. The control he has over their lives is what makes him feel powerful and in control. However, through a glimpse into Robinette’s more complex and chaotic human world, Death is forced to question all his beliefs and values.
Death is an interesting protagonist. He is a being who doesn’t feel pleasure at killing people but doesn’t have any empathy either. He likes the feeling of cleanliness that his work provides, the fading of people into non-existence. The relationship of Death and Robinette is compelling in the sense that it isn’t quite romantic, but they form a deep bond over shared emotions. They become a part of each other’s opposite worlds and accept the other side. While Death realizes that the life of a person is not just another soul for him to collect, Robinette accepts the inevitability of death for her and her loved ones.
The book’s writing style is formal and sophisticated, fitting to the characters and setting. A large part of the book is a conversation between Robinette and Death, making Death, The Pharmacista powerful character-driven read. Their conversation is a philosophical tug-of-war where the protagonist Death is shaken by his ignorance toward the consequences of killing lives. A smooth character development of the protagonist in such a short length is an impressive aspect of the book.
Death, the Pharmacist offers a unique plot and execution in the fantasy genre: an unpredictable story that offers readers philosophical questions instead of action scenes. While the book isn’t a thrilling page-turner, it offers a meaningful story that has the ability to touch the readers’ hearts. Like the protagonist Death, it asks one to ruminate on death and human existence and have more empathy in life.
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy / Supernatural
Print Length: 138 pages
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