Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Undeadly by Michele Vail

Title: Undeadly
Author: Michele Vail
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Pages: 27 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: ARC from the publisher via NetGalley
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: author website

Undeadly (The Reaper Diaries, #1)The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird...

Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper-and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she’s shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath. Who seems to hate her guts.

Rath will be watching closely to be sure she completes her first assignment-reaping Rick, the boy who should have died. The boy she still wants to be with. To make matters worse, students at the academy start turning up catatonic, and accusations fly-against Molly. The only way out of this mess? To go through hell. Literally.


Undeadly reminds me a lot of the House of Night series. This is not a good thing. At all.

This novel is still leagues and leagues better than the bestselling vampire series, but there are a few similarities between them. An annoying, judgmental heroine who has been chosen as special beyond all others by her kind's deity, mean girls and cliches galore, and failed attempts at teenspeak are just a few of the similarities.

To begin with, I originally quit reading the novel sixty percent of the way in because I wasn't enjoying myself, but I came back to it a few days later and finished it because I wanted to give it the fair shot it eventually showed it did not deserve. The first few chapters and our introduction to Molly's world are filled with inelegant exposition of how necromancers are an everyday thing and everyone goes to them for their zombie needs. This includes bringing zombies to life, suppressing their massive appetites, and reattaching their arms when they fall off. Though I disliked the artless way in which the world was built, the world itself has a lot of potential. Potential that goes unfulfilled, sadly.

Molly's narrative voice is one of the most forced teen voices I have ever found in young adult literature and it fails badly at seeming even slightly realistic. She uses outdated slang like "it was a mondo ick mess" (80s/90s slang, mind you) and "major suckitude" is at least as old as 2003. One bit of slang, "gigging up my ju-ju", doesn't even use gigging right! Gigging is typically associated with dancing, excitement, or moving from music gig to music gig as if one were clubbing. I believe this takes place in the present day, albeit in an alternate universe, not in the past.

Tolerating her for more than a chapter or two at a time was difficult. Looking down on her fourteen-year-old sister for being passionate about zombie rights? Ugh. Having the cliche-of-all-cliches freakout when she learns something about her family early in the book? Worse. Abbreviations like WTH and BTW in her narrative? I can't. If there is one thing I want from a book, it's that there are no abbreviations in the narrative itself. It's irritating and makes the narrator seem dumb and brings down the quality of the novel.

The side characters were unremarkable. There are the cardboard friends, the jerky new love interest and "old" love interest, the mean girls making Molly's life suck, and all the other requisite elements of paranormal YA. After reading it for so many years, stories like this that indulge in the tropes without doing anything new or deeper with them tire me. I also had a niggle with a character's name; Russian character Irina Derinski's name should be Irina Derinska, as per Russian naming traditions. The character herself? Let's not talk about how transparent she is in her motivations.

There simply isn't any depth here to make Molly and her world interesting enough. There are no questions about how ghouls and ghosts feel about being bound to the living world, as if they have no feelings at all. Molly never thinks about how Henry must feel to be bound to everyone of her family line that comes to Nekyia Academy and being forced to stay around if there is no one of her family there. There could have been so many great questions about what life and death really mean, but they are all passed over for melodrama.

Warning: Undeadly ends on a strong cliffhanger and there's no telling exactly when Unchosen, book two of the Reaper Diaries, will be in stores next year.All I know is that I will not be reading it.

0 stars!

What am I reading next?: The 13th Sign by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb