Something Strange & Deadly: The Dead + Steampunk

The beautiful cover of SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY by Susan Dennard

Genre: YA Steampunk
Series: SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY #1 (Only one currently available)
Publisher: HaperTeen July 24, 2012
Author: Susan Dennard (Contributor to Publishing Crawl)

Recommended? Yes, yes, yes! It’s so clever, unique, has zombies (AKA the Dead), great twists, and amazing characters.

Goodread‘s summary:

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.

Out of all the books I’ve read lately, this has to be my favorite. I loved it. Eleanor was a stellar heroine, she was strong, witty, and willing to do what needs to get done. Even though the story was set in the past (where girls were, of course, not equal with men), Eleanor didn’t let that stop her. Through the story she grew and broke out of the mold that her mother and society were trying to force her in.

The plot was brilliant. Dennard’s zombies, the Dead, are different than all the others I’ve read about. I loved the steampunk qualities added to the story, with the Spirit-Hunters, and the world that Dennard created. The pacing of the story was very good, there were a lot of high-tension moments followed by a nice (but important, plot filled) lull that allowed you to rest and not burn out.

There were small hints throughout the book how it would end, which I realized only while I stopped to think about it later, but… I was extremely surprised by some of the turns in the book. I didn’t see the end coming, yet when they happened I couldn’t help but think ‘Why hadn’t I seen that coming?!’ which just makes it ten times better. Surprises that throw me off because they weren’t already set-up in the story are just stupid, after all, but that didn’t happen here.

There were two love interests in the story, Clarence and Daniel, but even so there really wasn’t a love triangle. They were rivals–or at least didn’t act like it–which I liked. There were just choices that Eleanor had to make. Both boys were their own characters, different and layered, but I really loved Daniel. It’s always important for me to actually want the characters to end up together, and that happened in this story. I’ve read a few books where I just felt ‘meh’ about the romantic relations, but this book had my dying for Daniel and Eleanor to get together.

Just a quick warning: as soon as I started to read this book, I couldn’t stop. It took up my entire Saturday afternoon. Make sure you don’t have a full schedule or else you’re going to have some issues…

The worst thing about this book is that it’s part of a trilogy… and they aren’t all out yet! I cannot wait to read the next in the series. I couldn’t stop thinking about this book after I was done — which is, really, a sign of a good story. There were so many layers, wonderful characters, and a brilliant leading-lady.

I really, really loved this book and you really, really, really need to read it. Trust me.

Bad Taste In Boys: Geek v. Zombies

bad taste in boys

Cover found at Library Thing

Genre: YA Thriller
Author: Carrie Harris
Recommended? Yes. Zombies + Strong Heroine Geek + Fast Pace = Awesome.

BAD TASTE IN BOYS has been out for a while. For whatever reason, I never picked it up. I don’t know why, I always thought the cover was interesting. I guess it was the title that turned me off. Eventually I actually read the synopsis for it and realized it wasn’t a contemporary romance YA (which, I thought it was for some reason) but it was really about zombies! Awesome, right? I think I’ve mentioned before my weird little obsession with zombies. I just can’t get enough of them. This is the plot from Goodreads:

Someone’s been a very bad zombie.
Kate Grable is horrified to find out that the football coach has given the team steroids. Worse yet, the steriods are having an unexpected effect, turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless flesh-eating zombies. No one is safe–not her cute crush Aaron, not her dorky brother, Jonah . . . not even Kate! She’s got to find an antidote–before her entire high school ends up eating each other. So Kate, her best girlfriend, Rocky, and Aaron stage a frantic battle to save their town  . . . and stay hormonally human

The first thing you’ll notice when you pick the book up is how small it is. Including the acknowledgment, dedication, and other necessary pages, it’s around just 220 pages. The story itself is only 202 pages. That intrigued me right away, could an author really put together a compelling story with real characters in such a little word count? Harris apparently could.

Granted, Kate really is the only developed character. All her friends and Aaron (her love interest) are only in the story for short periods of time, since Kate does most of the action/heroing moments by herself. Jonah, her little brother, gets a good chunk of time and he is amusing. Personally, I don’t mind not getting to know the others that well. Kate is more than enough to carry the story. She’s engaging, so clever, funny, and a total geek — which I loved.

The pace in the book is pretty fast. The soon-to-be-zombie-problem is hinted at almost right away and comes into play by the second chapter. The roller coaster ride continues strong throughout the book and once it’s resolved the book doesn’t dillydally around, it gives a nice ending and stops.

There were some dumb moments. Kate keeps a closed mouth about a lot of the weird things that are going on when she could just tell someone (like her dad or the police) and maybe some of the drama could have been avoided but… where would the fun be in that? Harris gives good enough reasons for her not to go telling everything about the problems right away, and there are zombies so you have to pull away from reality a little to enjoy the book. Another thing that bothered me a sometimes was how stereotypical some of the teens were… like the dumb jocks and perfect homecoming queen friend. I know stereotypes tend to be true, hence why they are always around, but still, they’re bothersome. And Aaron doesn’t seem to have a flaw, aside from bad taste in a best friend. I really enjoy it when the love interest isn’t perfect but, like I said, though he was mentioned often he was really only in the book six or seven times. Kate, thankfully, isn’t the stereotypical geek and has a few flaws.

BAD HAIR DAY is out now and the second in the series. Like any strong series, the first book could totally stand alone. It closes with all the important things wrapped up, but it does give the reader a desire to see what happens to Kate next.If you like zombies, or you’re looking for a quick, enjoyable YA read, I’d recommend picking up a copy of BAD TASTE IN BOYS.