Saturday, March 10, 2012
Review: Dead, Actually - Kaz Delaney
Author: Kaz Delaney
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: March 2012
Length: 259 pages
From Allen & Unwin: Willow's having a bad week. A dead body, a funeral and now she's being haunted by the star of it all, the dead queen of Ruth Throsby High herself, JoJo Grayson.
Being dead hasn't made JoJo any nicer. She's still venomous and vacuous and, unfortunately, determined to stick around unless Willow finds out what happened. But the mystery keeps multiplying. There's a missing phone. An anonymous blackmailer. Dirty secrets that won't stay buried. And the blame is being cleverly pointed right at Willow. The only good thing? The gorgeous Seth Pentecost. He's got his own agenda but it looks like he's going to help Willow out. Could solving this death be what it takes to finally bring him into her life?
Watch the book trailer
As I’ve mentioned before, I was lucky enough to get a sneaky-peek at Dead, Actually a while ago, so I was really excited to get the completed version (and was thrilled that it is snarkier and more fun than I remembered).
So let's start with our heroine Willow Cartwright. Despite coming from family money and having ex-druggie-turned-religious-zealot parents, Willow has somehow managed to keep a fairly level head (thanks in large part to her grandparents). She's independent, thoughtful and into social justice (without coming across as preachy) and has a major crush on best-friend’s brother. I found Willow to be quite a relatable character with a quick, sharp sense of humour and distinctive voice.
I have to confess that I definitely have a soft spot for Willow’s best friend, Macey. She’s this dynamic combo of beauty, brains and balls – all wrapped in a gorgeously presented package. She’s the girl you normally would hate, but as she’s so fiercely loyal and sassy, you kind of love her (just quietly, I think she's a bit of a scene-stealer, in the best kind of way).
While I don’t normally read supernatural YA, I have to admit I’m kind of partial to the odd ghost story, and Dead, Actually worked for me as the paranormal aspect is really played for comedic purposes. I also liked the way that social media is utilised (Jojo’s Facebook page is the cause of much drama following her death). The Gold Coast setting is perfectly suited to the flavour of the story (for non-Aussies, it’s a popular tourist destination with lots of high-rises, nightlife and beach access). There are also some really laugh-out-loud moments, like a candid discussion about whether or not it's appropriate to hook-up at a funeral.
Surprisingly, Dead, Actually is Kaz’s first YA novel, but she comes from a background in romance-writing – which I think certainly shows in this book (there is plenty of swooning!). Kaz writes with a real flair for dramatics, but also does well with capturing catty teenspeak, spiky one-liners and wry observations.
Dead, Actually will definitely be a big hit with fans of the Gossip Girl, It Girl and Pretty Little Liars series. It's a really fun read (perfect for by the pool or a lazy afternoon) and Kaz has certainly hit upon the right balance of snark and supernatural.
You can also buy Dead, Actually for your kindle here and your Apple or Android device here.