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The Counting-Downers by A.J. Compton – REVIEW

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The Counting-Downers by A.J. Compton – REVIEW

 The stunningly poignant and life-affirming debut novel by A.J. Compton


Imagine if we could see how long everyone around us had left to live. But we weren’t allowed to know our own numbers…

Trying to make sense of life after the death of her beloved father, free spirit Matilda Evans meets Tristan Isaacs and discovers a marrow-deep connection with him.

No stranger to grief himself, lonely artist Tristan is in awe of Matilda’s fun and philosophical approach to life. With every second spent in her presence, he finds his views on life and loss changing, and begins to embrace the beauty of being alive.

As their friendship turns into something deeper, lessons are learned, memories are made, and legacies are created.

But with both of them knowing how long their soulmate has left in this lifetime, important questions have to be asked and tough decisions have to be made before time runs out.

The Counting-Downers is an inspiring story about life, loss, love, and making the most of every moment.

★★★ 3 Stars ★★★


“It always comes back to T.I.M.E. 
Make it yours. Make it count.”

This book was very different to what I would normally read, and a stort that conveyed a very important message to live each day like it’s your last. It was beautifully written and poetic, and I thought the concept was brilliant and had so much potential.

The book is set in a world where everybody has a ticking clock displayed above their heads, counting down to the time of their death. Everyone can see each others clocks, but not their own. No-one is allowed to tell you the time left on your clock, otherwise this is called ‘lovers suicide’ (although what if someone told you in spite, I am not sure how that worked?)

Matilda is a nineteen year old Californian free spirit, and with her father’s death looming, she is trying to prepare for a life without her first love and soulmate. Her father, who is sensing his upcoming departure, is doing everything he can to leave his daughter and young son with good advise and memories.

At her father’s funeral, she meets Tristan, a loner and old soul ,they have an instant connection. but their time is not now and so it’s not until a couple of years later that they meet again and form a friendship.

They become best friends, and decide that they want to leave a legacy behind after they die and decide to make a list of things they can do to achieve this and then proceed to go about fulfilling it.

“Live true. Live deep. Live free.”


For me, this books main focus wasn’t on the romance between Matilda and Tristan, nothing really develops romantically between them until well into the second half of the book. The main message here, and it is emphasised many times, is to live life fully, make the most of the time you have left because you never know when your last day on earth will come. If you knew how much time a loved one had left, would you endeavour to treat them better? It was very philosophical and thought provoking.

Personally, I wanted more story and I have quite a few unanswered questions. For example, although they didn’t know it, Matilda and Tristan had exactly the same amount of time on their clocks, with a death date in their late forties, but because the story was told in Matilda’s POV (a few chapters from Tristan) we don’t know what their friends and family thought about this and how it affected their perception of the couple, especially when they first became friends.

Also, because the story was very wordy and philosophical, I didn’t get to feel the connection between them. A few times I felt a butterfly or two when Tristan was doing sweet things for Matilda, but I never felt how Matilda felt about him. She seemed to go from having asexual feelings towards him to feeling like she was in love with him, there was no real progression from friends to lovers, and that is what was missing for me.

Overall, it was a great debut novel and I feel this author will do well because the talent is so obviously there. As a sucker for a romance, this book didn’t quite hit the mark for me, but it was very close.

This is a standalone novel, told mainly in Matilda’s POV.

ARC gratefully received from the author in exchange for an honest review

A.J. Compton is a 23-year-old Londoner, professional dreamer, and full-time over-thinker. She is the author of TheCounting-Downers and a dozen other unfinished manuscripts which will hopefully see the light of day soon.

A University of Cambridge graduate, A.J. is currently in a polygamous relationship with an embarrassing number of fictional book boyfriends.
Those two facts are not related. Honestly.
She loves people-watching and exploring her observations in her writing.
She really hates writing about herself in the third person.
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