Tuesday, November 27, 2012

REVIEW: Something Strange and Deadly

Book: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Release Date: July 24th, 2012 by HarperTeen
Pages: 388 pages
Source: Library copy

The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.
Something Strange and Deadly was a very enjoyable book to read, taking just about two days to read. The writing was clean and crisp, fitting in with the character voice perfectly. Below are my thoughts on this quick read.

The Romance:
1     2     3     4     5
This scale is different than most. 1 means that there is no romance at all. 5 means this book was a very, very romantic based book. A 3 will be the most common, as YA books surround another plot while dealing with romance too. Below are my thoughts on the romance.

This book takes the word "romance" differently than most YA stories. In Something Strange and Deadly, Eleanor Fitt doesn't fall in love with Daniel right away. Daniel doesn't fall in love with Eleanor at first sight either. In fact, he was pretty annoyed when he met her, as he made assumptions about her being some rich snob. But as the Dead became more consistent, they had no choice but to see each other again. They had to work together, along with Jie and Joseph (fantastic characters, by the way) to stop the zombies.

The romance in their friendship was pretty subtle, but the chemistry was powerful. I liked them together a lot, and was really thankful at the lack of love triangle and insta-love. I'd honestly like to read more books with romance as second priority (which this book is like).

The Action/ The Adventure:
1     2    3     4     5
The action scale is pretty obvious and it is just like the romance scale. 1 means there was no action. 5 means there was a lot of action. Whether or not the action was good, I'll tell you below.

There is some action in this story. But to honest, I was disappointed by a few of the scenes. For a book about zombies, I never really felt the fear I should, though I'm not sure if it was intended or not. Some scenes also didn't have that urgency of details added to it. Overall, they were somewhat interesting, but I felt like they could have been written in a more suspenseful way.

However, the adventure part of this story was great. Eleanor was a very adventerous character and she was brave too, which meant a lot of stuff happened.

The Speed:
1     2     3     4     5
The speed scale tells how fast the story goes. For example, if the introduction is boring and the whole book is going at snail pace, it'll probably be a ranking of 1.

I felt like the speed of this book was a little under average. It wasn't a big inference to the story, but some parts of the action (like mentioned above) could have been sped up to create suspense and some parts of the story were unneccesary. It wasn't boring, but for some people with less attention span, they might feel the urge to flip through the pages. For me though, I personally enjoyed them. They really let Eleanor's personality shine through.

The Plot/ The Perspective/ The Storytelling:
1     2     3     4     5
This isn't based on how much action shows up as the book progresses. It is based on the quality of the plot. Sometimes the plot is just unentertaining while others are the on-the-end-of-your-seat suspenseful. This is probably the scale that you should pay the most attention to.

Eleanor was an easy character to relate to. She was smart, yet not to the point of being snobby. She was kind, yet not to the point of being weak. She had that perfect quality to make readers like her. And if someone was bothering her, she knew what to do. Unlike some female protagonists, she had her own opinions and isn't always concerned about pointless stuff (guys, looks, what people thought of her).

The End:
1     2     3     4     5
This is going to be a limited scale as I don't want to spoil the ending. I promise I won't reveal any secrets, but if you want it to be a complete surprise,  STOP READING.

The ending of this book can be great or unsatisifying, depending on who you are. For me, I really liked it. It was super realistic, and had that bittersweet taste to it. It was also very unique, defying against a lot of YA books these days. The book had ended with the hint of a sequel.

The Summary:

The Good Points:

Eleanor's personality was amazing. Her thoughts were enjoyable, clever, and sharp. There was no insta-love beween her and Daniel, while the chemistry between them was very realistic. Daniel was a very likeable character too, along with Jie and Joseph being wonderful secondary characters. The writing of Susan Dennard was also flawless, the details being vidid and beautiful. If you love unique YA books, you'll definitely like this one.

The Bad Points:

Because this book is set in the 1800s, the writing is more fancy. For me, it had taken a few chapters to get used to the way Eleanor's thoughts were written. But nonetheless, it's easy to get used to. Also, in the publishing rights section of the book, the summary had included something about how this book was set into an alternate world. If so, then there weren't a lot of world-building in this book. A lot of times, I wondered why people aren't so surprised by the existence of zombies and spirits.

The action also could have been written in a more suspenseful way. For more details on this, check "The Action/ The Adventure" part of this review. And the ending for some people could have been unsatisifying. It was perfect to me, though.

Overall Thoughts:

Pros ---

- no insta-love
- Eleanor's awesome personality
- the other characters' personality (Jie, Joseph, Daniel)
- VERY unique plot (my first time reading about zombies in a YA book)

Cons ---

- takes awhile to get used to the language
- not a lot of world-building
- the action

Final Rank: 

1     2     3    4     5
I really liked this book. Eleanor, along with all the characters, were very enjoyable to read about. Eleanor and Daniel's subtle romance was great too. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to read a unique book.

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