Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez
190 pages, Paperback
Published by September 1, 2008
Summary: Everyone in the Giordano family is psychic—except for Daisy. When her mother, who uses her power to solve crimes, enlists Daisy’s older sister to investigate a teenage girl’s mysterious death, Daisy feels utterly useless. But she takes matters into her own hands when she learns the victim has lots of company — teenage girls are being attacked all over town, including at Nightshade High School, where Daisy is a junior. And when she discovers a vampire may be the culprit, Daisy suspects head cheerleader Samantha Devereaux, who returned from summer break with a new “look.” She looks a little . . . well, dead.
Is looking dead just another fashion trend for pretty, popular Samantha, or is there something more sinister afoot? Daisy will stop at nothing to find out — she even joins the cheerleading squad. And with a little sleuthing help from Ryan, an old friend (who may be turning into something more), Daisy not only reveals the identity of the vamp, she also discovers powers that she never knew she had.
Overview: I picked up this novel mostly because I have a couple of non-reader girlfriends who said it was hilarious and awesome. Au contrair, mona ami! This novel was a short, quick read, and I won't deny laughing a few times during it, but it was mostly annoying, conflicting, and predictable. Perez must have been aiming at all those Twilight obsessed girls who'll just gobble up everything involving vampires. The story was completely predictable and flat, without much to surprise the reader or truly interest them. The writing was basically that of a teenage girl who can't make up her mind and it was a classic scenario of constantly telling, not showing. Daisy was a nice character, but really flat and one-dimensional. Her attitude towards the strangeness of her town, Nightshade, was weird and kind of annoying. Ryan wasn't the greatest character, but probably my favorite, since he was the only one with normal responses to the utterly bizarre and random situations they got in. The rest of the characters also fell flat, and were completely inconsistent. One moment Sam was a bitch and the next she was giving sincere, caring advice to Daisy! Overall, Dead is the New Black was as superficial as its title and rushed in the worst way. A few bright spots: the pacing was fast, only explaining events that were completely relevant to the story; The vampires, werewolves, and whatever other going-bump-in-the-night creatures weren't too involved (with the exclusion of one vampire); finally, Perez didn't pretend her novel was more than it is: I honestly should've seen the big warning! sign and ignored my friends' recommendation. The book is one that you can judge by its cover.
Daisy was irrational, confused and confusing, random, and fickle. Honestly, I didn't know where this whirlwind of a girl was going next. One moment she's upset that Ryan isn't calling her every two seconds, and the next she loves him. It was bizarre how often her mind changed about people and things. Also, she had a weird habit of coming up with conclusions to mysteries that made absolutely no sense; the worst part: they turned out to be right! Daisy's sisters, Poppy and Rose, weren't too closely examined (along with everything else in this novel) but they weren't overtly annoying or strange, other than the fact that Rose seemed totally mature one moment and completely immature the next. Ryan was cute and loveable, and I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out what Perez was trying to tell us about him; was he actually in love with Daisy or was he cheating on her? Again, Daisy's bipolar reactions made it impossible to tell the truth about any of the characters. Oh, and the vampire? Not even close to intimidating. Perez seemed to be building it up, like some horrible monster, and then, bam, she's met with a really predictable ending.
Oy vei, if the characters were bad, the story was a disaster. Perez must've either thought that readers don't notice all the inconsistencies in her story or that they wouldn't care. Because I can't tell you how many times I flipped back through this book and found that Daisy was either one confused girl or she was getting her facts all wrong. I won't go off about how unoriginal, predictable, or superficial the story line was, but let me just tell you, it was.
I know what you're thinking: Is this girl PMSing or was this novel really that bad? Well, I'm not PMSing, I can guarantee you that, but this novel was maybe better than I've so far made it out to be. Maybe it was a great, cute, short little novel that wasn't the best ever, but pretty good. I'm not trying to book bash or anything, but I just really, really didn't enjoy this novel. The writing was easy to follow, conflicting, and immature most of the time, written a lot like a teenage girl who's mostly concerned with gossip and her hair. Maybe that makes it more authentic? I'm fishing for something great about this novel, and I just can't. It wasn't great, in my opinion. And while I'd love to love this novel and tell you I'm dying to get Dead is a State of Mind, I'll just leave you with an honest, I didn't like it, but maybe you will. I know, this sounds like a wrap-up paragraph. But there wasn't much in the writing to review since there wasn't much of it in general. I just think this is the kind of novel girls who don't really enjoy reading will enjoy and die-hard book nerds like myself will scoff at.
Cover: 2.5 stars
Characters: 1.5 stars
Plot: 2 stars
Writing: 2 stars
Overall rating: 2 stars