Michele Vail The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird…
Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper-and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she’s shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath. Who seems to hate her guts.
Rath will be watching closely to be sure she completes her first assignment-reaping Rick, the boy who should have died. The boy she still wants to be with. To make matters worse, students at the academy start turning up catatonic, and accusations fly-against Molly. The only way out of this mess? To go through hell. Literally
In Molly’s world the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians are not so ancient. Following the betrayal of some of his reapers and the earth shattering war in the underworld which followed, the god Anubis took the five magical powers reserved for reapers and gifted them to five prominent and noble families. Each power, associated with a different part of the soul, allowing them to control a different element of the dead. Over the generations, the bloodlines have become diluted and the ability’s of these Necromancers wide spread.
Molly’s ability, to create and control zombies, is the most common. A gift she shares with her sister and at least three other people in her school. Rather than make her special, all these gifts ensure is that she spends her evenings and weekends working at her fathers Zombie emporium, where for a price anyone can cheat death and have their relative immortalized as a zombie.
Undeadly is told from Molly’s first person perspective, interspersed with diary entries, essays and quotes from “famous necromancing” texts. I initially found it difficult to connect with Molly, her use of teen speak, slang and abbreviations really grated on my nerves and as an old biddy in her thirties, I found myself re-reading passages in order to “translate” what was being said. However within a few chapters I managed to connect with the rhythm of her voice to the extent that I found myself giggling along in places.
I really enjoyed the ancient Egyptian mythology that Vail used as the foundation of the world building in Undeadly. It was an original and interesting addition to the YA paranormal genre
Undeadly didn’t live up to my expectations, inspired by a somewhat misleading blurb. I envisioned an antagonistic relationship between Molly and Rath, who’s strong emotions could either lead to passion or something more sinister – ultimately Molly’s interactions with her reaping tutor received very little page time. The blub prophesied that Molly would have to “go through hell” to correct her mistakes, but the reckoning when it came was a very small proportion of the book and anti climatic.
Undeadly was a fast read, exceptionally so, to the extent that I found myself checking Goodreads to confirm that the book really was 272 pages long, as it felt much shorter. I can’t help feeling that the book could have been and should have been longer, that the author could have made much more of the character interactions, the strange goings on at Nekyia, and the repercussions of Molly’s interference with Rick.
While I suspect that the author will explore the repercussions of Molly’s actions and Molly and Rath’s connection in future installments of the Reaper diary’s, she certainly ends the book with an almighty cliffhanger, I find myself unsatisfied. Undeadly felt unfinished, almost like reading part one of a novel not the completed first book in a series. Verdict: Undeadly didn’t quiet live up to my expectations but was different enough for me to consider reading the, yet to be published, sequel. Reviewed by Caroline
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: November 2012
Challenge: Debut Author