I haven't read a ton of books by Chris Crutcher, but I know that he has written quite a few. I picked up Deadline when a grant that I had written was funded. I wrote the grant to add a new selection of books that would appeal to a male audience to my free reading shelves. Deadline seemed like an entertaining read, and it absolutely was.
First off, it was interesting reading this book alongside Libba Bray's Going Bovine. Both are about teen boys who find out rather suddenly that they have terminal illnesses. In Deadline, you never find out what the illness is, but you know that there is no way that the main character, Ben, will survive without any treatment.
Rather than freak out and seek some sort of crazy last minute adventure, Ben leads a fairly normal existence for his final year of life. He does a few "Bucket List"-type activities, but he does not go sky diving or travel too far from home. He does, though, become a more outspoken person and is actually more connected to his community and relatives after he finds out his diagnosis.
Ben is an interesting teen in that he chooses not to tell anyone, not even his parents, that he has a terminal illness. They do not know that their son is dying until it is too late. I'm not sure that I love this idea for any of the teens that I teach, but I do like the idea that Ben was in control of his own path. He made choices and got to see the result of his actions.
I loved this book. It's not super flashy or crazy, like Going Bovine (which I also loved, but for different reasons) but it has a quiet sensibility to it. I am actually considering teaching this book in a senior course with a focus on "journeys". I think that it'd fit right in and lead to lots of awesome discussions.