Thursday, May 24, 2012

Deadgirl by B.C. Johnson

Title: Deadgirl
Author: B.C. Johnson
Length: 4965 Kindle units
Rating: 3.5 stars

The Plot

Lucy is having the best night of her life. She finally has a date with Zack, the boy she has been flirting with all year, and everything is going perfectly. Until she gets chased into an alley by a team of would-be attackers. One accidental gunshot fire later, and it’s all over for Lucy. Not just her perfect evening, but her life.

Except that it isn’t. When Lucy wakes up in the morning without a scratch on her, she tries to go on with her life as normal. But she quickly discovers that some things about her have changed. She’s not hungry or tired anymore, and sometimes she can read minds. And every so often she gets really cold, and the only way to stave off the chill is to siphon life energy from another person. And she finds herself in constant danger from a man made of light. But if Light is working against her, what does that make her?

The Good

I really liked the voice of Deadgirl, especially at the beginning. I felt like I was actually inside a teen girl’s head as she plotted with her friends to escape an ill-timed grounding. Lucy had a plethora of friends, with real flaws that irritated Lucy, no matter how much she liked them, like her too-beautiful friend Morgan and the overly insecure Wanda.

Deadgirl was also not afraid to talk about sensitive issues. At three different points it addressed rape as something that is a very real and present fear for young women. The story also explored teen misbehavior, such as sneaking out or running away, and the impact that it can have on parents and relationships. And, of course, the eternal moral quandary of whether it’s okay to feed off of someone else’s life force in order to survive.

The Bad

Deadgirl creeped me out. I suppose theoretically this could be a good thing, since it’s evoking emotion, but I didn’t really feel like they were emotions I wanted to be feeling. The gray world and Lucy’s uncertainty of everything that was going on around her gave the book a sluggish, zombie-like feel. This is exacerbated by what I feel is the book’s most objective flaw, which is that it moves very slowly. I wasn’t sure if the pace was intentional to give the book more of that grey-death feel, but it did its job a little too effectively.

Lucy also seemed to lack emotional attachment to the people in her life, to a point that I found some of her behavior borderline sociopathic. She didn’t seem to have any empathy for the terror that everyone in her life experienced when she disappeared. And occasionally she would lie about things like her curfew with no real reason or remorse. Toward the end of the book she starts showing actual signs of concern for the people around her, but for awhile in the middle, I really disliked her.

The Romance

Lucy has been flirting with Zack for over a year, and he finally takes the next step and asks her to be his girlfriend. When Lucy dies, that puts a crimp in their relationship, both because Lucy can’t tell him what really happened to her and because her parents have gone into over-protective mode, which precludes things like dating. And even though Lucy is having trouble dealing with her apparent lack of mortality, all she really wants is to go back before the time she died and be a normal teen girl with a new boyfriend.

Will I read more?

I think my reaction to Deadgirl was more a matter of personal preference than anything actually wrong with the book, but I kept thinking that I really didn’t want to be reading it. I just felt like around every corner that something was going to happen to make me more sad or uncomfortable, and I was usually right. I don’t know if there are going to be more books in the series, but if there are, I am going to opt out of reading them.

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