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Death and the Girl Next Door - Darynda Jones Original review is posted here: http://www.yourentertainmentcorner.com/?p=30798

I had high hopes for Death and the Girl Next Door but was disappointed for a few reasons. First, the story isn’t focused. Our protagonist, Lorelei, seems like your typical teenager—hence the book’s title—but she isn’t. She has visions which aren’t explained until near the end of the novel. I was fine with that until her visions lead to something implausible.

Second, we’re introduced to the two lead guys who appear to be part of a dreadful love triangle, but thankfully are not. (At least Death doesn’t take that familiar route.) Jared, the dark haired good bad guy and Cameron, the blond bad good guy, fit the typical YA novel mold. Guess which one Lorelei falls for? Only the hottest, most gorgeous, most muscular, supernova (Lorelei’s word, not mine) guy ever! That would be Jared, by the way. I think some readers would be reluctant to take to Jared because he isn’t well flushed out, but I liked the possibilities for his character. The same thing goes for Cameron who is an anti-social, moody teen with a chip on his shoulder. You don’t know which of these guys to root for, but why should that matter when they are so ridiculously hot? (There’s a theme here…)

Third, what’s missing is the plot. The story starts off on a great note. It’s intriguing and made me want to know more about Lorelei and her two best friends, Brooklyn and Glitch. Then things take a strange turn and continue veering off the path of common sense. There are angels, ghosts, demons, dark spirits and the grim reaper all thrown in. So if you asked me what this story is about, I can’t tell you because I honestly don’t know. Maybe Jones does this on purpose and considers the tangents and plot holes as “twists.” I just call them confusing. We eventually find out who Lorelei, Jared and Cameron are and it’s all a big mess. They each have a role to play in preventing the apocalypse (because that hasn’t been done enough). Instead of making things exciting, the twists are overwhelming and slow the flow of the story. If the plot revolved around the angel of death incarnate, I would have loved that. Instead, we get the angel of death, a prophet who’s supposed to lead humans and angels in a war against demons, dark spirits who are roaming the earth, and a single Nephilim tasked with protecting the prophet. Oh, and I can’t forget the poltergeist haunting a couple of Lorelei’s classmates. Add a dash of girl hate and secret societies and you’ve got yourself a mess of a manuscript masquerading as a novel.

Not only that, the editing leaves a bit to be desired. In some instances I felt the story took a leap from one mode of action to another. I had to re-read a few passages to make sure I didn’t miss something; the quick change of pace left me confused and interrupted the flow. Also, the spelling and grammar errors were too obvious to be missed. I’m not sure if the editing process was overlooked or deemed not important enough to be taken seriously. If you can’t take the time to fix mistakes, why should I take the time to read your novel?

I don’t know whether to classify this as paranormal, fantasy or comedy because we get all three, and then some. I don’t mind the humor thrown in because I laughed a bit, but after a while it just seems forced. I couldn’t find anything to relate to with our protagonist. She’s insecure (but beautiful), has two great friends (yet feels alone), and falls for a guy she’s only known for a week. I get infatuation, but falling in love with a guy because he’s the most beautiful guy she’s ever seen is just ridiculous. I’m not sure why authors feel this is what teens do; crushes are more realistic than insta-love.

As an aside, I have to mention my loathing the defining of characters by their ethnicity when it has absolutely nothing to do with the story. It doesn’t move the plot along or help a reader to better identify with the character. If you want us to know someone’s race so we can get a picture of them in our mind, why not just tell us the color of their skin, hair or eyes? A description of a hairstyle would also clue us in to who we’re supposed to imagine. I just don’t get the need to say “the Asian skateboarder” when his being Asian has no merit to his place in the story. And of course, there’s this little gem: “She was the most beautiful African American woman I’d ever seen, petite like Brooke with the same delicate shape and soft brown skin.” Oy vey!

If you’re looking for a light read you don’t have to think too much about, then this book is for you. But if you want to understand what you’re reading and have some idea of the plot and where the story is going, I wouldn’t recommend Death and the Girl Next Door.

I was provided an ARC by NetGalley and the publisher St. Martin's Press for an honest review.