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Review: Cooper Bartholomew is Dead

Martina Taliano

Cooper Bartholomew’s body is found at the foot of a cliff.


That’s the official finding, that’s what everyone believes. Cooper’s girlfriend, Libby, has her doubts. They’d been happy, in love. Why would he take his own life?

As Libby searches for answers, and probes more deeply into what really happened the day Cooper died, she and her friends unravel a web of deception and betrayal. Are those friends – and enemies – what they seem? Who is hiding a dangerous secret? And will the truth set them all free?

The first time I met Canberra’s Rebecca James was just over a year ago as Sweet Damage was being released. She already had Cooper Bartholomew is Dead in the works however even at that point even she wasn’t sure how Cooper had died. I’m such a planner so it intrigues me how an author can start writing a book without knowing the ending, however that has been Rebecca’s way of writing and I can definitely say it’s working for her!


You know from the start that Cooper is dead; the very first chapter outlining Cooper’s thoughts as life fades from his broken body. The local police rule his death as suicide but is that really happened?

Fans of Rebecca’s writing will know the story of how Cooper died will be a complex and twisted one that will keep you guessing til the last chapters.

Death, grief and suicide are complex topics that ‘Cooper’ addresses with sensitivity and realism. Cooper’s friends are impacted variably by his death, as is the way each of them slides between the stages of grief. Libby is unable to accept that Cooper voluntarily took his own life and seeks to find answers through his relationships and movements in the previous months. I love that Rebecca’s characters are flawed and not always likeable but always human and relatable.

The story unfolds in the Now and in the past Then, and is told from four perspectives; Cooper, Libby (the girlfriend), Sebastian (the best friend) and Claire (the ex-girlfriend). This structure is interesting and works well.

As with Rebecca’s other novels Cooper Bartholomew is Dead is presented as Young Adult fiction however there is a valid case for this to be placed in the New Adult section. It seems to me that as Rebecca’s writing experience and success matures, so do her characters. Because of this, I can’t wait to see what Rebecca comes out with next.

Cooper Bartholomew is Dead is an easy read that will keep you reading into the night, so make sure you start it early in the evening!

ISBN:9781743319239 | Publisher: Allen & Unwin | Imprint: A & U Children | Genre: Young adult fiction | Suitable for ages: 15-18

Image courtesy of Allen & Unwin

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