Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review: The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble

The Sweet Dead LifeAuthor: Joy Preble
Genre:  Paranormal
Pages: 244
Published: May 14th, 2013
Publisher: SOHO Teen
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Source:  I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"“I found out two things today. One, I think I’m dying. And two, my brother is a perv.”
So begins the diary of 14-year-old Jenna Samuels, who is having a very bad eighth-grade year. Her single mother spends all day in bed. Dad vanished when she was eight. Her 16-year-old brother, Casey, tries to hold together what’s left of the family by working two after-school jobs— difficult, as he’s stoned all the time. To make matters worse, Jenna is sick. When she collapses one day, Casey tries to race her to the hospital in their beat-up Prius and crashes instead.
Jenna wakes up in the ER to find Casey beside her. Beatified. Literally. The flab and zits? Gone. Before long, Jenna figures out that Casey didn’t survive the accident at all. He’s an “A-word.” (She can’t bring herself to utter the truth.) Soon they discover that Jenna isn’t just dying: she’s being poisoned. And Casey has been sent back to help solve the mystery that not only holds the key to her survival, but also to their mother’s mysterious depression and father’s disappearance."~Goodreads

I'm not really sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book.  I haven't read a ton of angel books and most of the ones I've heard of are romances.  This novel is about a brother and a sister so  romance really wasn't part of the equation.  After finishing it I'm still not really sure about this one. It centers around Jenna, an eighth grader with a world of problems.  Her father is missing, her mother doesn't leave the house and her older brother is a pot head.  When she and her brother are in a car accident and he becomes an angel things get even more complicated.  There were definitely things I loved about it, but there was plenty that fell flat as well.   

  • The writing style:  The style of the book was really cool.  Jenna definitely had a unique voice and the author did a great job of bringing that across.  The colloquialisms in the writing added to the charm and really pulled me in.
  • Jenna's got spunk:  I just loved Jenna.  She was so full of life and laughter despite her dire circumstances and that really got me attached to her.  Throw in her impressive and growing vocabulary and her sense of humor and I was sold on Jenna.  Her relationship with her brother was also really genuine and sweet.

  • Amber:  I just didn't see the point of Amber, and I don't just mean her character.  I also didn't get why Jenna hated her so much or why Amber was such a pill.  With fun, lovable characters like Jenna and her brother I was hoping that Amber would have been developed a little more.
  • Where's the magic?:  This book reads more like a mystery than a paranormal story.  There isn't a lot of angel-ish stuff going on except for Casey's physical changes and some little tricks that go by practically without notice.  I would have liked to see more of the paranormal/angel element.
  • No surprises: Everything is sort of laid out for you in the synopsis.  The reader already knows the big twist (cough Casey's an angel) before the book even begins.  So when Jenna finally comes to that conclusion it's not very exciting for the reader.  This could have been avoided completely with a different title and description.  The other big revelation, that Jenna is being poisoned, is also right there in the blurb.  
I started out really loving this book.  Unfortunately, by the time I finished it I wasn't as excited about it.   That being said, the writing style alone is enough for me to want to pick up the author's other work.  I'm excited to see what she what else is out there.  If you're looking for something heavy on the paranormal this book might not be for you.  But if you want a cute younger mystery give it a shot.

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