Sunday, September 18, 2011

Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade

Title: Queen of the Dead
Author: Stacey Kade
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion
Release Date: May 31, 2011
Pages: 266 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.

Queen of the Dead (The Ghost and the Goth, #2)The Ghost

Okay, I admit it. I'm not perfect, no matter what you've heard. First off, I'm dead. Second, I got sent back from the Great Beyond. I mean, seriously, who is running things up there? Now I have to spend the summer after my senior year working--and on behalf of a bunch of whiny spirits, no less. But a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do.

It's a good thing Will Killian is still around. Even though he drives me crazy, and he could seriously do with a tan--Hello! It's summer!--I'm glad he's here to help me. Correction: was here to help me. Now he's all distracted by this frizzy-haired girl who can--big deal--communicate with the dead too. Whatever. I don't need Will. But there are some things--like saving my parents from a couple of horrible mistakes--that would be easier with his assistance. Still, I will get what I want... with or without him.

The Goth

I'm still totally amazed that Alona Dare is my spirit guide and that it works. Yes, I've had a crush on her since sixth grade, but I also kind of hated her. And sure, she had to die before she'd talk to me--but I don't know, I kind of like having her around.

Things get confusing when I meet Mina, who's the first ghost-talker I've ever encountered (other than my dad). I always thought Alona and I were doing the right thing helping those other ghosts, but Mina has me thinking otherwise. Plus, she might know some stuff about my dad that even my mom doesn't. But if there's one thing I should have learned by now, it's not to ignore Alona. That's never a good idea.


She only got sent back from the Great Beyond to Earth, but Alona Dare may as well have gone to Hell. Now she has to spend her summer working and helping out all those other ghosts that want to move on. At least it will be a little better with Will Killian, her friend-but-kinda-maybe-more and a ghost-talker. When another ghost-talker named Mina shows up and occupies Will's attention with information about other ghost-talkers and things he never knew about his dad, Alona isn't happy about her problems being neglected. After an unforgivable act, they both have some hard choices to make.

One of my favorite things about the series is the writing. Alona and Will have their own voices and stories and these are what keep me moving through the books when I feel they get a little slow. I'm just dying to see what else they have to say and see how it will all turn out for them. This time around, they have their own plot lines and lives going on instead of being stuck to each other the entire time and these dual storylines ramped up the pacing. After the disaster that was the last book I read (or attempted to read, since I didn't finish it), Queen of the Dead was exactly what I needed.

I still wanted to kick Alona sometimes for the selfish things she does, but she is strangely likable. She has never pretended to be a good girl and what you see is what you get. She's only (figuratively) human, after all; she makes mistakes, big mistakes, and she's a good, sympathetic, well-developed character. Even when she's at her worst, I can't help cheering her on. Then we have Will, the straight man to Alona who isn't afraid to call her out when she's being selfish or does something stupid. Thank goodness getting the girl didn't cost a great male character his spine. When Will got anxious to learn more about his dad and the Order from Mina, I felt it with him. In general, the book is just as good at characters as it is at the writing.

The expansions Kade made to her fictional world with Mina and the Order of the Guardians was great. The information about them was a little too info-dumpy and messy for my tastes, but Will got to find out what he wanted to know and so did the reader. The whole thing with Lily and her family was... Okay, that got me crying. It did. Not anything too special because I could see it in many movies, but it still brought tears to my eyes. I love it when books get me drying like that.

Kade caught my attention with The Ghost and the Goth and with Queen of the Dead, she's got me hook, line, and sinker. The final book of the trilogy won't be out until June 2012 or so, but I can wait. If it means there will be solid, satisfying resolution to a situation I'm not sure can end happily, I'm willing to wait. (But not if the wait is twelve years or longer like Strange Fate by LJ Smith, which I'm pretty sure is never coming out.)

4 stars!

What am I reading next?: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor