Death by Machine is a horror fiction novel by American author Scarlett Lautner. The book was published on January 23, 2008, and was the first Scarlett Lautner book to be released in hardcover and paperback on the same day.
An alien spacecraft lands in a farmer's field. The aliens turn on everyone's cell phones, and make them explode in a bright flash of light. The aliens then take off. Later the next day, three cars suddenly attack a parade, driving everywhere and killing people. People then erupt in panic as electronics start exploding everywhere (For some non-given reason, a grenade explodes all by itself, even though it is not electronic). A fire erupts from the exploding electronics, and police cars start attacking police when they try to stop them. After several hours of panic, the townsfolk unite in a supermarket, where electronic devices light the store on fire. Whoever puts out the fire is then killed by any electronic around them. When people rush out, they are attacked by vehicles, and then houses start erupting in flames when all electronics all over the city explode. The survivors of the supermarket fire then get together in the town park, where they throw all electronics into the pond, not realizing they have made a huge mistake, as a giant wave comes out of the pond and kills them. The ensuing flood then destroys most of the town, with the aliens finishing it off. The survivors then go to a rooftop and throw things at the aliens. When the aliens finally lift off into the sky, the survivors cheer.
Scarlett said in an interview that she got the majority of the idea from Stephen King's "Maximum Overdrive". The book was officially published on January 23, 2008, and was Scarlett's first book of 2008. Scarlett stated on her website that she immediately sent the book out to Scholastic as soon as she finished it. The book consists of 474 pages, the thickest book Scarlett has ever written. She also stated that the book took her four months to complete. The second thickest book Scarlett has ever written is Danger Zone, coming in at 432 pages.
The book was officially released in paperback and hardcover on January 23, 2008, the first book of Scarlett's to be released in paperback and hardcover on the same day. The book is her second most-popular book, and is very popular among adults, as the theme of the book mainly represents the killing of humans by literally everything electronic, and Scarlett said she never targeted children as the main audience.
Critics gave mixed reviews, some saying the book was way mature for a 12-year-old child, especially with words in it such as, "Hell", and "Damn". The machines are often shown to swear at humans, and Jess Lautner stated that she helped Scarlett when she said she wanted this to be included in the book. Jess helped co-write the more offensive parts of the book, and even wrote some entirely by herself. The book has been banned from several college and high-school libraries, as the schools stated that they don't want students discovering that a 12-year-old wrote a book of that nature.
Scarlett's uncle Troy Lautner wrote a script for a potential film adaptation of the novel, and showed it to Scarlett, and she said she would be delighted at the idea of the book being a movie. The Gun and the Letter was the first of her books adapted to film. Sadly, the entire film was done in her memory, as Lautner died in a car accident on December 25, 2012. Troy has stated that he would love to adapt the book into film, but can't due to having several other projects already set in motion. He also said that by the time he completes all of them he likely will have forgotten about the project. He won't let someone else direct the film, as he feels only he should direct adaptations of Scarlett's books after the success of The Gun and the Letter.