March 25th, 2010

Book Review: Beautiful Dead: Jonas

Book Review: Beautiful Dead: Jonas
Beautiful Dead: Jonas by Eden Maguire
Series: Beautiful Dead #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc.
Release Date: March 2010
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher

Darina has just entered the world of the Beautiful Dead. A world that contains four of her classmates...her dead classmates, including her boyfriend Phoenix. This world is supposed to be secret from those of the living, but Darina makes a deal in order to be the exception. She must help solve the mysteries that surround each of her classmates' deaths.

Jonas was the first to die and the first to need her help. Darina must discover the real reason that Jonas crashed his motorcycle, causing his death and crippling his girlfriend. He was an experienced and cautious rider, could Jonas have really been driving too fast and risking himself and his love? Or was there something more that happened on that tragic day? And more importantly, will Darina be able to discover the truth and finally allow Jonas to pass on in peace?

The Short of It: This is one of those liked, but didn’t love. And honestly, it’s really hard for me to say why. There was a lot of potential, but it kind of fell short. I felt like the world could have been fleshed out a bit more, but it was still a decent read overall.

Plot: I will warn you, that you are instantly thrown into the plot. There is no introduction, no hello this is where you are…you’re just there. I know many have not liked this, but I didn’t mind it too much. Although, I was a little confused as first and had to go back and reread a few pages to understand what was going on.  And I really do wish things had been fleshed out a bit more, but I’m hoping the future books will help with that issue. Other than that, I thought the plot was an original concept; I would have never thought of making zombies beautiful, intelligent, and almost like they had been before they died. The mystery behind the deaths is interesting, although, Jonas’ death was a little predictable. Then again, I’m not sure it was supposed to be hard to guess as Darina was calling it long before the end of the book. This book is truly just one slice of the pie and am I interested to see where Maguire plans to take it.

Characters: I’m sort of indifferent when it comes to the characters. I didn’t feel like I got to know them well enough to care what did or did not happen to them, especially Jonas. I mean, I didn’t want him to disappear without having his mystery solved, but I also wouldn’t have cried any tears if he had. And he seemed like a nice, loving boy, but I never felt like I knew him. To me, he was some casual person I knew in passing and nothing more, which made me a little sad since it was his book.

Honestly, I think the book focused a little too much on Darina and Phoenix – like it was really more their book and Jonas was just in the background. Still, I’m not sure I really know them. Darina is close, but I’m still not sure what really makes her tick. I want to know if there is a reason, beyond Phoenix, that she’s willing to help them out. I just wanted more about her and her life in general. Right now, she feels more like someone who is just there to fill a role – not a true character, but I have hope that that will change as the books progress.

Romance: This one is really hard to talk about. After all, by the time we meet Phoenix he’s already dead. It is obvious that they care a great deal about each other, but their time together is very limited. What we learn about their relationship is mainly through Darina’s reflections on the past, which I’m not sure if it can be taken as accurate or a girl in love shading the truth. Although, you can tell that Phoenix is protective of her and wants her to be happy. I only worried that in his new zombie-state the emotions he sends are not real. There have been several hints at that, but it’s impossible to say for sure.

Before I move on I do want to mention Jonas and Zoey’s relationship. What tiny bit we saw of it was truly sweet, but tragic. He truly did love her, even if she did doubt it a little after the accident. Although, I think deep down she knew he did. It was a relationship that seemed to be blooming and was kind of sad that it ended before it really began. I am glad that she was able to find closure though.

Writing: I didn’t think the writing was bad. Some of the descriptions and dialogue felt silted, but nothing that made me shout and scream in frustration. I know I had a couple of eh moments, but nothing that had me ranting.

Librarian-Mode: This is a hard one for me. It’s unlike any zombie book I’ve ever read, so I’m not sure the normal zombie-lovers would like it. There’s no gore or brain eating here. I don’t really think this book can sit neatly in a niche, but I would try recommending it to other paranormal lovers.

You can see other reviews by tour participants at the Teen Fire Ning

September 18th, 2009

Book Review: Zombie Blondes

Book Review: Zombie Blondes
Zombie Blondes Release Date: June 2008
Pages: 256

From the moment Hannah Sanders arrived in town, she felt there was something wrong.     A lot of houses were for sale, and the town seemed infected by an unearthly quiet. And then, on Hannah’s first day of classes, she ran into a group of cheerleaders—the most popular girls in school.     The odd thing was that they were nearly identical in appearance: blonde, beautiful, and deathly pale.     But Hannah wants desperately to fit in—regardless of what her friend Lukas is telling her: If she doesn’t watch her back, she’s going to be blonde and popular and dead—just like all the other zombies in this town. . . .

I have to be completely honest and admit that the ending ruined this book for me. In fact, had the ending been different this may have received a much higher rating. Up until the last 30 pages or so I had really been digging the book. While the social commentary on popularity has been done before (and is a running theme in teen zombie books) it was kind of fun to see Hannah work her way into that “in” crowd. With each new page turn, I kept thinking that something big was going to happen. Lukas, with all his warnings, was going to be wrong and this was just going to be a small town with odd quirks. I mean, hello, she was making out with a zombie and he totally wasn’t going after her brains (or blood). Sure the “in” crowd was a little odd, but they looked and acted too normal to be zombies. How evil could blonde haired, blue eyed next-door-neighbor teens really be? Ok, so maybe that was the point and all. Who would ever think wrong of the All-American teens in a small town? Yet, I was still so disappointed when it turned out Lukas was right all along. And the very end itself just made me scream. (I’m trying very hard not to spoil that point. Very. Very. Hard.) I mean I get it and all, but it was certainly not a satisfying ending. In fact, I was left with a sort of depressed and hopeless feeling. Maybe I’m just too much of a happily-ever-after girl to appreciate this type of ending?

Now, remember, my opinion is just one among millions. I may not have liked Zombie Blondes but you might! I mean, really, it was just the ending that killed it for me;I really liked it until that point. If you have read Zombie Blondes, please leave a comment! I’m very interested to hear others thoughts on it!

P.S. Yes, yes I know I usually write my own summaries, but I’m strapped for time lately. You may see a couple more product description summaries as I try to catch up, but I promise they won’t be here to stay.

September 3rd, 2009

Book Review: You Are So Undead to Me

Book Review: You Are So Undead to Me
You Are So Undead to Me by Stacey Jay
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: Jan. 2009
Pages: 272

Q: HOW MANY ZOMBIES DOES IT TAKE TO RUIN A SOCIAL LIFE?
A: NOT MANY.

Megan Berry is a Zombie Settler by birth, which means she’s part-time shrink to a whole bunch of semi-dead people with killer issues. All Megan really wants is to go to homecoming, but when you’re trailed by a bunch of slobbering corpses whenever you leave the house, it’s kinda hard to score a date. Let’s just say Megan’s love life could use some major resuscitation. Megan’s convinced her life can’t get any worse – until someone in school starts using black magic to turn average, angsty Undead into scary, hardcore flesh-eating Zombies. Now it’s up to Megan to stop the Zombie apocalypse. Her life – and more importantly, the homecoming dance – depends on it.

First, I’m going to have to admit that it has been quite a while since I first read this book. (I think it was back in Feb/March) I fell really behind in reviews around that time and would have just let this one go had it not been for Zombie week. So basically, I really apologize if this review stinks. That being said, I enjoyed this book, but didn’t really love it. Jay has a nice writing style and voice (the main reason I liked the book), but the plot didn’t sit well with me. I’m really not sure what’s up with this zombie invading school type plots, but I’m not sure I like it. There were times I wanted to slap Megan silly, especially when she was more concerned about her Homecoming dress and not the killer zombie after her. I mean, HELLO, dress = replaceable…your life = not so much. However, Megan does have this air about her and I can totally see the potential that her character holds. I also liked the little romance that was going on and am interested to see where it leads. And you can bet that when Undead Much comes out, I’ll be picking it up to see how the story continues. (That and I’m really hoping this whole zombie/high school thing starts growing on me.)

So tell me, have you read You Are So Undead to Me? If so, be sure to tell me what you thought!

P.S. This post is part of zombie week. Be sure to check out the September Zombie blog for even more Zombie-goodness.

P.S.S Yes, yes I know I usually write my own summaries, but I’m strapped for time lately. You may see a couple more product description summaries as I try to catch up, but I promise they won’t be here to stay.

August 31st, 2009

Book Review: Never Slow Dance with a Zombie

Book Review: Never Slow Dance with a Zombie
Never Slow Dance With a Zombie by E. Van Lowe
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: 2009-08-18
Pages: 256

Principal Taft's 3 Simple Rules for Surviving a Zombie Uprising:

Rule #1: While in the halls, walk slowly and wear a vacant expression on your face. Zombies won't attack other zombies.
Rule #2:  Never travel alone.  Move in packs.  Follow the crowd.  Zombies detest blatant displays of individuality.
Rule #3:  If a zombie should attack, do not run. Instead, throw raw steak at to him.  Zombies love raw meat. This display of kindness will go a long way.

On the night of her middle school graduation, Margot Jean Johnson wrote a high school manifesto detailing her goals for what she was sure would be a most excellent high school career. She and her best friend, Sybil, would be popular and, most important, have boyfriends. Three years later, they haven't accomplished a thing! Then Margot and Sybil arrive at school one day to find that most of the student body has been turned into flesh-eating zombies. When kooky Principal Taft asks the girls to coexist with the zombies until the end of the semester, they realize that this is the perfect opportunity to live out their high school dreams. All they have to do is stay alive....At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

Never Slow Dance with a Zombie is one of those reads that is fun and quick, but one I just didn’t click with. I really can’t put my finger on it other than the fact that the premise was too far fetched for me. I know, I know zombies are far from realistic, but co-existing and even dating one?! Where is the running in fear? Where is the need to fight and destroy them? Okay, so maybe the whole virus scenario makes these zombies a little different, but would you really want to date one? Decomposing lips aren’t really that kissable. (You know I’m right!)

On another level, I totally appreciate what E. Van Lowe was trying to accomplish the whole popularity & “it” girl message. I even liked the subtle message of mixing with people you may not normally hang out with. After all, if you only judge a book by it’s cover your sure to miss an excellent story within. I just wish there would have been more done with it. I was kind of sad to see how it all ended. In this case I definitely think that more would have been better. (I know I’m being a little vague, but I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone!)

If you LOVE zombies (or even if you don’t) I recommend giving Never Slow Dance with a Zombie a try, especially if you’re looking for a quick, light read. And, as always, be sure to drop me a note if you do! I always love to hear what others think!

P.S. This post is part of zombie week. Be sure to check out the September Zombie blog for even more Zombie-goodness.

P.S.S Yes, yes I know I usually write my own summaries, but I’m strapped for time lately. You may see a couple more product description summaries as I try to catch up, but I promise they won’t be here to stay.