Author: Suzy Cox
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 384 (ARC)
Pop quiz: What would you do if you had to solve your own murder to get anywhere in death?
Maybe if I hadn't slept through my alarm, slammed into Kristin--my high school's reigning mean girl--or stepped in a puddle, destroying my mom's new suede DVF boots (which I borrowed without asking), I wouldn't have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I wouldn't have been pushed in front of that arriving train. But I did, and I was.
When I came to, I was informed by a group of girls that I'm dead. And that because I died under mysterious circumstances, I can't pass straight over to the Other Side. But at least I'm not alone. Meet the Dead Girls Detective Agency: Nancy, Lorna, and Tess--not to mention Edison, the really cute if slightly hostile dead boy. Apparently, the only way out of this limbo is to figure out who killed me, or I'll have to spend eternity playing Nancy Drew. Considering I was fairly invisible in life, who could hate me enough to want me dead? And what if my murderer is someone I never would have suspected?
I traded for this book in hopes of getting a quick, hilarious read with an interesting concept. Well, the read is quick...the book has a very interesting and unique concept...but the plot felt flat and I don't have many things I enjoyed. In my opinion, the hardest type of review to write is one for a book you really didn't like. I sit here wanting to be honest with you, but it's hard to highlight the positive points without dwelling on the negatives. So I'm going to try to make this a simpler review, but elaborate on my qualms and share what I adored.
The plot in this one was set up for so many amazing things, though it did fall flat. One day Charlotte was murdered, pushed in front of a train on the subway train track. She then woke up in some type of limbo for murdered teens in New York City where she meets the Dead Girls Detective Agency--Lorna, Nancy, Tess, and supposedly Edison. She can't move on and leave limbo until she solves her murder and gets the key to her freedom, so she embarks on a twisted journey to find her murderer--one the most unsuspecting characters ever.
However, I have to say that the plot was hindered by a lack of humor and odd characterizing. This book was littered with jokes to lighten to the mood of death, but they all fell flat to me. I could see the jokes so obviously there, but the only reaction they were able to solicit from me was the occasional eye roll or the need to just ignore it and keep going. I feel as if the humor was geared more towards a younger teenage who thinks weird sayings and cheesy sarcasm is hilarious. The lack of humor made the book slightly morbid at times because the humor was supposed to override the team of death and it didn't.
Next, the characterization. For the life of me, I could not connect to Charlotte. I didn't agree with her decisions, her thought processes seemed skewed and slightly batty, and I just didn't like her. While Lorna and Nancy were somewhat entertaining every now and then, they couldn't make up for my dislike of Charlotte. I also really didn't like her ex-boyfriend. Truth is, if you love someone who is murdered, you don't go and hook up with half of the cheer-leading squad just because you don't know what to do and they pay a lot of attention to you. He was not a respectable character at all and more often than not, I just wanted to get rid of him.
And I have trouble grasping the motivation for the murderer. We spend the entire book trying to figure out who it is, and while I was shocked because it was the last person I expected, I hated the motivation to take someone's life. It was messed up, to put it honestly. I know you have to be a little messed up in the head to want to murder someone, but this was just a petty excuse that should never lead to murder. I was slightly angered after reading this part of the book because it was so insane. The big climatic moment fell flat because there was no logic in it.
Sitting here reflecting on the book, I think that one of the reasons that I had all of these problems was the writing. It didn't seem that complex. It was very simple, and while I like simple, too simple can sometimes be bad. I feel like more description and attention to detail regarding emotions and descriptions may have allowed me to enjoy this book slightly more than I did. I wish that the creativity behind the plot could have been handled in such a way to create a stronger story with more likable and respectable characters.