Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: The Dead Girls Detective Agency by Suzy Cox

Review: The Dead Girl’s Detective Agency by Suzy Cox
Rating: ★★★★ ½

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?

For a book about being dead, The Dead Girl’s Detective Agency sure is funny. Charlotte’s voice is awesome. I just want to hang out with her and talk about everything under the sun. But Charlotte’s a little busy, of course- solving her own murder. With a hook like that, I was sold.

Now, obviously, the plot would have to live up to my expectations. Did it? (Just look at the stars at the top of page.)

It’s a tall order to write a book about a girl who recently finds out she’s dead and keep it from being too emo depressing. But again, Charlotte is fun and funny, and it’s her attitude and the absurdity of the situation that keep it light and comical. And it’s a hoot, frankly.

Edison it totally fun too. He’s dark and dangerous, and all the not-allowed ghost stuff they do is tremendously entertaining. He is also delightfully swoon-worthy. (SPOILER) was an appropriate skeeze. Tess was an excellent foil. And Nancy and Lorna were so adorable and charming that I want them to be my friends.

And then there were the parts that weren’t entertaining, but were sad. In a good way. I was a little wary of how such a lighthearted narrator would tackle the weightier parts of death, but I have to say they worked. I actually teared up during a scene in which Charlotte observes her best friend. It was probably a smart choice not to deal too  much with Charlotte’s parents, as that would have gotten WAY too heavy and I would have bawled. Every time they were mentioned, though, it was pretty affecting. I love how Charlotte, despite being dead, is able to mature from a slightly patronizing but likable hipster girl to someone a bit more grounded. All it took was being brutally murdered.

I had a minor complaint about some of the high school clichés, particularly the cheerleaders. While they made formidable villains, they were not particularly original, though sometimes that was amusing. They almost became a parody of themselves, which sort of fit in with the tone of the book.  And they were admittedly hilarious. But at least the most important part- the ending, the revealing of the murderer- was something I didn’t see it coming. I enjoyed the murderer reveal,  though I have a few spoiler-y quibbles I won’t get into. Mostly, I wish the motive for the murder had had more to do with Charlotte herself, rather than those around her.

Another tiny nit-picky still-loved-the-book-beyond-words-but-this-really-irked-me thing was the time Charlotte’s high school started. Yes, I'm anal like that. But any high school where you stroll on in at 9 am is my kind of high school. Meaning I’m not really sure it exists. And if it does, then that’s so not fair.

But seriously, I read this book straight through, laughing uproariously the whole time. I definitely recommend it for a fun romantic romp through the afterlife, full of heart, spunk, and charm. There's no doubt that I'll read what Suzy Cox writes next.

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