Saturday, August 3, 2013

Novel Review: The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble

Rating (Out of 5): ~3-3.5
Genre: YA Supernatural Mystery
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publish Date: May 14th, 2013
Spoilers?: Very Minor.
Teaser Tuesday.

Goodreads Synopsis:

“I found out two things today. One, I think I’m dying. And two, my brother is a perv.”

So begins the diary of 14-year-old Jenna Samuels, who is having a very bad eighth-grade year. Her single mother spends all day in bed. Dad vanished when she was eight. Her 16-year-old brother, Casey, tries to hold together what’s left of the family by working two after-school jobs— difficult, as he’s stoned all the time. To make matters worse, Jenna is sick. When she collapses one day, Casey tries to race her to the hospital in their beat-up Prius and crashes instead.

Jenna wakes up in the ER to find Casey beside her. Beatified. Literally. The flab and zits? Gone. Before long, Jenna figures out that Casey didn’t survive the accident at all. He’s an “A-word.” (She can’t bring herself to utter the truth.) Soon they discover that Jenna isn’t just dying: she’s being poisoned. And Casey has been sent back to help solve the mystery that not only holds the key to her survival, but also to their mother’s mysterious depression and father’s disappearance.

Something Specific:

  • "'If things don’t go your way, you haven’t lost. You’ve just run out of time. Next time you’ll beat the hell outta your opponent.’” (Hardback, pg. 126)
  • "Go along. Live your life. Shit happens. Do the best you can.” (Pg. 141)
  • "'I don’t know why you don’t live it up all the time when dying is just around the corner, but you don’t.’ […] …what if we really did live each day like we were dying? What exactly is it we would do?” (Pg. 229); “Did anyone really live like dying was around the corner? And why couldn’t you do that right here at home?” (Pg. 237) That’s a good question that I’ve never thought about, nor heard anyone else wonder. Why doesn’t anyone ever think about the things right in front of them that they’ll miss, like their home, family, friends, etc.?

The Cover:

My feelings for this cover are pretty average. It fits for the contents of the book, it's not overly embarrassing. I don't love it, but I don't hate it, either. It's alright.


This was a rather pleasant read, and it surprised me by how much.
Jenna believes she’s dying, although she has no idea why, has been to the doctor several times with no results, and is sure of several things that it’s not. Her brother is an angel, literally, because he died when they were in a car crash (on the way to the hospital, actually). Her mother is depressed and is practically not around, hiding in her room all the time. Her father disappeared several years ago, with no trace of him left behind, no idea where he went.
Firstly, this is a rather funny book. Jenna is always going off about things in her head, overthinking things, and just having odd, comedic little thoughts; and this is told in her journal entries, so that helps. This helped me like Jenna, and helped make this book a rather quick read, which is was.
I liked her relationship with her brother. And I liked her brother. He’s a stoner, and he’s a bit of a dumb guy at times, but he’s also sweet and loyal and trying hard to take care of his sister, so I liked him.
I liked the plot of the book. The angel reveal was slow, and it bothered me how slow it was at first, but overall I didn’t mind, and later the wait was made understandable. The reveal of what is happening to Jenna is also a bit slow, but that added to the suspense, the curiosity, of it, and I liked that. Why what is happening to her is happening to her was the big mystery, and that was done pretty well. The reasoning is kind of similar to what would happen in a lifetime movie (a B-movie? is that what I mean?), or something, but that doesn’t really bother me much.
(Also, just to make sure you know this, there is no romance in this book. I think a big reason for this is that, one, a lot of it focuses on Jenna’s brother, and, two, because Jenna isn’t very old. I think she’s early high school or late middle school, I can’t remember; not that that’s too young for romance, but still. And I think it was just fine without a romance—Jenna’s focus is her brother and her dying, and she doesn’t need to add romance to the mix. Although she does think about this one guy at her school, like, twice. An opening for something, but nothing develops from it, and that’s fine.)
The very end left me a little confused, making me wonder if that’s supposed to be an opening to more books, or maybe if I just read it wrong, or what. I don’t really think there needs to be another book, as this one was just fine, although I see how there could be more books, and it could expand on the angel plot. But I do think that it’s just fine as a stand-alone.
I don’t really have a whole lot else to say about this, I suppose. This book wasn’t amazing to me, but it was definitely enjoyable, and funny, and I liked it.

 Thank you so much to Soho Teen and I Heart Daily for sending me a copy!

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