You Are So Undead To Me by Stacey Jay
|You Are So Undead To Me by Stacey Jay|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A perfect marriage of school life and the deprived-of-life in this urban fantasy adventure mystery for teens. Such a balance of teenage goings-on with zombies should never work as charmingly as it does here.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: January 2009|
|Publisher: Sleuth RazorBill|
So you're just waiting for the school football hunk to pick you up for a first date, when the doorbell rings. But it's not him – instead it's a zombie seeking closure. You still want said hunk to take you as date to the school prom in a few short weeks, but that's before an even hunkier guy turns up, tasked with protecting your life from ravening hordes of the undead. And there're the routines you need to nail to get you on the cheerleading team – but that's being interrupted by learning spells that can save your life.
It is a strange world fifteen year old Megan lives in. She doesn't believe in ghosts, but ever since she was young and she inherited her mother's skills, she has had a psychic aura that attracts zombies to leave their burial sites and seek her out in order for their final wishes to be fulfilled. She then has to go and put everything in order, with or without the help of mild magic. Beyond that there is a whole shadowy, USA-wide organisation, to make sure this is done safely by trained operatives, that all resulting mess standard humans might stumble upon is cleared up, and to put to rights anyone interested in being a black magic practitioner. And there's definitely one of those about town, bringing much more violent zombies to life.
But this book isn't all about that. If anything, it's an urban fantasy read for teenage girls, and as such the female urbanity is provided by the school life evoked here so well. It's all there, and all instantly recognisable – the problems of having two hunks on the go, the catty rival, the teachers who don't like Megan writing her lists of suspects in the middle of English, the need to be in with the 'in' girls…
And if the school-days aspirations weren't enough to ground this in reality, there is the narrative. It is a superbly done first-person telling, which is so eminently chatty and breezy. It might sound awful to describe, as it's full of slang and yoof-speak, but it is actually very likeable, and probably universally appealing.
It and the story cover an awful lot of Americanisms and details that might not travel, but the plot allows us to sail right past them at a lovely high pace, and we can forgive that. It sounds a ridiculous blend of school-life, teen romance, comedy and horror, but at its core is a thriller mystery that's quite disarming in where it takes us, and when, and how. Yes, Megan goes far too far in protesting the guilt of her prime suspect, but even with a small cast we don't have a chance – or the time – to predict exactly who's doing what and why.
This then is a brilliant entry into that previously undreamt-of middle ground between Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson character, and say Jennifer Rardin's undead slaughterers. It definitely should not be as successful as it is – but it wears its technique very lightly, and its charm very brightly. It's a book easy to recommend, and to praise, even with such unusual phrases as the following – I hope there's more in this series to come, soon.
If there is a 12-16 year old girl in your circle whose only attempts at reading are to paw at her school textbooks, this must be perfect.
A fine start then for Razorbill books. We are grateful to them for our review copy.
You can read more book reviews or buy You Are So Undead To Me by Stacey Jay at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy You Are So Undead To Me by Stacey Jay at Amazon.com.
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