Monday, August 13, 2012

Dead Girl Walking by Elizabeth Lee

Title: Dead Girl Walking
Series: The Guardian
Author: Elizabeth Lee
Length: 2627 Kindle units
Rating: 3.5 stars 

The Plot

Addison has always been able to see ghosts, and usually they just go into the light when she tells them to. But now she’s faced with the spirit of famously disappeared teen starlet Sharlene Gallagher, who tells Addison that she needs to solve her ten-year-old murder. But what Sharlene is not telling is that they need to catch the killer fast, before Addison becomes the next victim.

The Good

Dead Girl Walking was a cute story about likable characters. Addison and Sharlene are two very different teen girls who nonetheless find that they can learn a lot from each other. Sharlene helps Addison come out of her shell and gain the attentions of not one but two cute boys, and Addison makes Sharlene feel like she has a real friend for probably the first time in her life.

Through the eyes of both girls, we learn that no one’s life is perfect, no matter how it seems on the outside. Addison appears to be a typical shy, quiet girl, but she has a lot of stress from her parents’ divorce and father’s remarriage – not to mention the whole seeing ghosts thing (which apart from Sharlene is really incidental to the story). And Sharlene was always the center of attention and on the road to fame, but she had dark secrets even before the events that led to her death.

The Bad

I felt like the story was rushed overall. This feeling was increased by the rapid switching of narrators between Addison and Sharlene. For the first third of the book or so, I felt like we shouldn’t be switching heads at all, because all we were getting from Sharlene was some overdone foreshadowning. But as the story went on I started to have the opposite impression, that maybe we needed Sharlene’s thoughts more than Addison’s. I think in the end we need to have both girls’ viewpoints, but I think having a less frequent switch-off would have helped the story.

Toward the end of the story, things got kind of confusing, like I couldn’t follow exactly what was going on in every scene. There was some surprise sexual assault thrown in out of nowhere (which like surprise lesbians seems to be more common than you would think in self-published young adult literature).

I also saw who the killer was from a mile away. But that could just be my super-sleuth skills.

The Romance

Most of the romance in the book was for Addison, which makes sense, since she was the one who was still alive. On the very same day that Sharlene gives her a makeover, Addison attracts the attention of two boys: Jon, the most popular senior boy in school, and Andrew, her one-time next door neighbor/friend. Jon may win out at being the host of the school’s biggest parties, but Andrew is in a band, which definitely earns him coolness points. But both boys also have their downsides: Jon is older than her, and everyone except Addison seems concerned that his motives are less than pure. And she’s still upset with Andrew since he stopped being friends with her after her parents got divorced and she moved away.

As for Sharlene, there were some hints that she might have a developing romance with her guardian supervisor Peter (not St Peter, just a regular one). But then at one point he poses as her father, which just makes the whole thing much creepier than I prefer.

Will I read more?

I’m a little unclear as to where the story will go from here. Will it be about Addison or Sharlene or both? There are reasons that it could go in any direction. (Or not. Maybe Addison dies. Maybe Sharlene gets pulled into the fiery depths of hell. I will not spoil it for you. It is worth noting that, regardless, death is not an end in this mythology.)  There are some open ends that I am curious about in the story, and the characters were likable enough that I wouldn’t mind picking up the next installment.

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  1. Surprise lesbians? What the hell is that?

    1. Surprise lesbians is when you get to the end of a book and it turns out that one of your female characters is in love with another female character even though there was no evidence that either one had any lesbian tendencies or attraction to each other at all prior to this announcement. I have no problem with lesbians. But they are not a particularly good plot twist.