Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 3 stars
I am a big fan of Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson (read Jo’s review of First Grave on the Right) series. So when I learned she was writing a YA series, I was interested to find out how the humor and wit I expect from a Darynda Jones book would transition.
For as long as she can remember, Lorelei has experienced visions when she touches someone. She doesn’t think about it a lot because it’s one of those things that doesn’t always happen. Lorelei actually lives a pretty normal life, until Cameron Lusk, the high school loner, starts stalking her. Determined to confront Cameron about it, Lorelei is sidetracked when new guy Jared shows up at school.
Jared is the equivalent to a “supernova” in Lorelei’s eyes, and just about every other female in the school as well. But when Cameron and Jared seem to already know—and hate—each other. She knows there’s more going on than what they’re telling her. Of course, she’s determined to find out.
Death and the Girl Next Door was middle of the road. Lorelei is living a (semi) normal life, but it just takes one day to change that. From that point we, the readers, as well as Lorelei are thrown so much information I don’t know what to do with all of it. There was a lot in the book that could have been expanded upon in maybe the next book, or maybe just left out completely. Some of the situations our characters get into seem to be just for the purpose of showing off how awesome / scary Jared can be or to show the divide between good and evil.
The plot meandered through the novel without a true conflict or villain until almost the very end where the reveal came out of left field, but I will grant that it’s plausible. This is definitely a book that took the entirety to introduce the world and the characters with the ending being the introduction of the conflict which will, I assume, be picked up in the next book.
What I really loved about the book, and what Jones excels at, is the character interactions. Death and the Girl Next Door is filled with the witty humor and banter that we’ve come to expect from the author. Being young adult, it is toned down a bit, but that fact doesn’t negate that Jones has a way with the funny. Lorelei along with her best friends Brooklyn and Glitch are unprepared to take on the supernatural, yet they don’t hesitate to jump in and figure out what’s going on, even though what’s going on seems highly unlikely and crazy at times.
Lorelei is a great heroine. Even when she has moments of angst she calls herself out on them, thus preventing the whole book from being dragged down by moodiness. She also doesn’t care that, in her eyes, she’s just a normal teenager. She’s willing to step into the fray to help other people out. I’m sure this is a quality that will be tested in the other books.
I also have to give Jones credit for taking the book in different directions than I would have thought. Even if it was an intentional change in order to avoid duplicating many YA novels, it seemed to flow in the right direction.
While I wasn’t blown away by Death and the Girl Next Door, it is a worthy effort. I try to keep in mind that it’s the first in a series and keep my fingers crossed that the second book will be better now that we know the background information.
Sexual content: Kissing