Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My So-Called Death by Stacey Jay (@Stacey_Jay) [Book Inspection]

Plot Sketch: Karen Vera is a cheerleader.  She rocks at the top of the pyramid, and everyone wants to be her.  Well, at least they did until she fell from the top of said pyramid and cracked her head open and her brains fell out.  She died.  They had a funeral, but Karen was still around.  She's a zombie.  Not the kind of zombie that got themselves dead and then got reanimated via black magic, those are the lower class Deprogrammed.  Nope, she's Death Challenged, which is pretty much the bourgeoisie of zombiedom.  Now she's attending a brand new school just for zombies, away from her parents and toddler triplet siblings, and trying to learn the ways of zombie life.  She's eating brains, making friends, and learning how to care for her undead skin.  She's clashing with her goth-ish roommate, Clarice, and crushing on the OMG steamy lunch-line guy, Gavin.  Everything is very "new girl in school," until, someone turns up with their brain missing.  Zombies without brains are dead.  Karen, with the help of some friends, sets out on a course to find out who the brain snatcher is and solve the mystery before it's too late for the brainless deprogrammed girl to be reanimated, again.

Verdict: This fast-paced high school zombie story is delightful.  The plot is twisty and doesn't dawdle.  It's engaging and intriguing.  The writing is clever and concise, but also addresses important themes such as self-esteem, trust, and interaction with authority figures.  There is very minimal strong language, I think it's one instance, and it's addressed as strong language in the book.  The characters are appropriately developed for a novel of this length, and Jay does a good job of developing them through their thoughts and actions as the plot moves along rather than spending time describing the character and what they might do in any given situation as we often find in young adult literature.  Her ability to do this is what allows the story to move so quickly.  I mean, don't miss a paragraph because if you do, you'll be lost.  No skimming or skipping ahead either.  She'll catch you if you do and you'll have to rewind yourself.  I think she did a great job with the imagery and world building and she accomplished it in the same manner as she did the character development, as the story progressed. I never once wondered what someone looked like or where the characters were as that information was provided to me at precisely the right moment again and again.  Jay's creativity and mastery of her craft are evident in this work, and if you love a book that moves along, or love zombies, or just love to laugh, you'll love this.  I also want to note for those of you who do not love zombies that you are reading a review by someone who frequently has zombie nightmares.  This will not give you nightmares, promise.  It'll make you laugh, squee, and giggle, but it will not haunt you.  I hope to read more about Karen Vera.  Pick it up and see for yourself!

The Kirkus review compared this story to Harry Potter in a negative light... the Muggle-born vs. Wizard-born was paralleled to the Deprogrammed vs. Death Challenged in this work.  I want to go on record as saying that I see no similarity to Harry Potter in My So-Called Death unless you totally stretch it and say that every book set in a school with a mystery is Harry Potter.  If My So-Called Death is derivative of Harry Potter, than Harry Potter is derivative of the Civil Rights Movement of the American 50s and 60s.  Lame comparison, Kirkus.

The Gauntlet:

Location: DEAD High (Death Challenged Education for Adolescents and the Deprogrammed)
Main Character: Karen Vera.  Now, I couldn't really relate to Karen because I have always hated cheerleaders (in all capacities, and I refuse to apologize for it), but Karen is a great character.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't ever be friends with her, but I don't think I'd hate on her either if we were in the same school.  She's developed well, and has good motivations for her actions.
Favorite Character: I think it's Karen.  Even if I wouldn't be her BFF like Trish was.
Time to Finish: It took me about a month.  I know.  It's really a three-hour book.  But this three-hour book ended up being more like Gilligan's three-hour tour for me.  Life happened, and every time I picked up the book it seemed like I got pulled away.  I thought about it.  I wanted to read it, but I got stranded on a tropical uncharted island in life and it seemed like I just couldn't get rescued in time to read the book.
Got Stuck On: Nothing in the book.  It flowed and moved along excellently.
Would Change: Not a thing.
Favorite Line: In the first six pages of reading, I found six potential favorite lines.  That's how great this book is.  It's super cheeky, so incredibly hard to choose.  Here are a few of my favs:
"In fact, it was a boy trying to look up said skirt that ruined my life." pg. 3
"Good thing I have a good self-esteem.  Otherwise, the whole "mutant" diagnosis could have done some major emotional damage." pg. 5
"Unholy crap on a moist cracker." pg. 196 (meant as a swear)
"We were like Romeo and Juliet if Romeo had been a cannibal and Juliet hadn't died after taking that poison... or plunging a knife through her heart or however she offed herself in the end." pg. 224
Good for Monster? He might listen to an audiobook of this, but I can't see him sitting down and reading it.
People Who Will Like This: cheerleaders, swimmers, people sick of straight-laced horror, satire lovers, zombies,
People Who Won't Like This: zombie purists, people who don't think outside the box, people who love epic fantasy,
Chapters: 18.  There are little quotes and zombie poems, and excerpts from the school handbook at the beginning of each chapter.  It's great.  They are a foreshadowing agent, and are really utilized well.

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Flux
Publish Date:  March 1, 2010
ISBN-10: 0738715433

Author's Websitehttp://www.staceyjay.com/

Acquire It:
Book Depository
Changing Hands

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Inked Books said...

This sounds awesome! I'll keep an eye out for it.

elizabeth said...

Sounds good. I'll have to check it out :)

vvb32 reads said...

glad to hear you liked this one. i'm looking forward to reading it!

NotNessie said...

The cover of this book just makes me laugh...