I know Reaper Man is a really well-liked book in the Death subseries of Discworld, but it just didn’t do much for me. I didn’t find it as funny as Mort, and there was more time spent with other characters than with Death in a plot that I just wasn’t all that interested in.
In this novel, Death is perceived to have developed too much of a personality and is therefore forced to “retire” and will eventually die, and a new Death will take his place. In the interim between his retirement and a new Death’s arising, the original Death goes to work on a farm and learns more about humanity, and no one who dies stays dead. This causes an excess of life force that manifests in disruptive ways in the city of Ankh-Morpork.
Any book review is going to be subjective, but this one is particularly subjective because one of the reasons I didn’t like the plot of what was happening in Ankh-Morpork was that one of the main characters in that plot was named Windle Poons, which just sounds awful to me; it was a turn-off the way the word “moist” is to some people. And he was also basically a zombie because he was a wizard who was supposed to have died, except he didn’t because there wasn’t a new Death yet, and I’m not really into zombie-related media. And maybe I just wasn’t into the philosophy about life and death that was in this novel.
What I did love was Cyril. He’s a rooster on the farm Death is working on, and he can’t say “cock-a-doodle-doo.” Death tries to teach him to say it by writing it down, by Cyril is dyslexic and gets it wrong every time (e.g., “Floo-a-cockle-dod”), and I loved it. I also enjoyed the existence of the Death of Rats, a character that exists because during the wait for a new permanent Death, lots of little Deaths are created.
In spite of how I felt about Reaper Man, it did actually keep me engaged. I wasn’t enjoying the book in the way that I wanted to, but I also wanted to know what was happening in Ankh-Morpork and how the whole book would end, which is a testament to Pratchett’s skill as a writer and how he paced the events of the novel.