Friday, January 4, 2013

The Dead and the Buried by Kim Harrington

Publisher: Scholastic Point
Release Date: January 1st, 2013
Source: NetGalley

Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes....But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.

Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school — until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?

Review: I had such high hopes for this novel, especially after having really enjoyed Harrington's debut from two years ago. Clarity showcased Harrington's flair for realistic, well-formed characters and witty dialogue as well as a great talent for messing with her readers when it comes to mysteries. Like, I thought I knew who was responsible for the crime but nope, the author totally pulled the rug out from under my feet! So when I heard about The Dead and Buried and that it would combine all of Harrington's talents within a ghost story, I was SO excited. But alas, I finished The Dead and Buried and wondered what happened to the author who originally ensnared me with her awesome writing.

What really leaped out at me was the writing in the story: it felt very middle-grade and it nagged at me since I knew TDaB is labeled as YA. But if it were just this detail affecting the story, I wouldn't be so disappointed. Almost all of the characters, including our protagonist Jade, felt flat. And when I can't muster up the energy to even like the main character, that's not a good sign. The only character that I found appealing was Kayla, the mean girl of the school. She was ruthless and calculating in every aspect of her life and she's no different in death. I will say this: Harrington can write a compelling mean girl. So on the Kayla front, I was more than satisfied. I wish I could say the same for everything else though.

Final Verdict: Sad to say it but I was not happy with this one; I was expecting to get a chilling YA read that centered on a murder mystery and The Dead and the Buried unfortunately did not deliver. The murder mystery was easy to figure out once you click the pieces into place early on (and if you're careful, you'll figure out who the culprit is very quickly) and the supernatural aspect of the story was only mildly uncomfortable (and not even creepy). Sigh. If you want to try any of Harrington's books, I strongly suggest to go with Clarity first; I'm not sure what happened here but... this wasn't the author who thrilled me the first time around.

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