The Bad Book Bonus goes on. I guess you could say I’m sort of biased when I pick up a book and decide it’s going to be part of BBB, but what can I do? I try to give these suckers a chance and in return, all they give me is a headache. Ow.
Title: Beautiful Dead – Jonas
By: Eden Maguire
Published by Politiken, 2011
First published 2009
Something strange is happening in Ellerton High. Phoenix is the fourth teenager to die within a year. His street fight stabbing follows the deaths of Jonas, Summer and Arizona in equally strange and sudden circumstances.
Rumours of ghosts and strange happenings rip through the small community as it comes to terms with shock and loss. Darina,Phoenix’s grief-stricken girlfriend, is on the verge. She can’t escape her intense heartache, or the impossible apparitions of those that are meant to be dead. And all the while the sound of beating wings echo inside her head! And then one day Phoenix appears to Darina.
Ecstatic to be reunited, he tells her about the Beautiful Dead. Souls in limbo, they have been chosen to return to the world to set right a wrong linked to their deaths and bring about justice. Beautiful, superhuman and powerful, they are marked by a ‘death mark’ – a small tattoo of angel’s wings. Phoenix tells her that the sound of invisible wings beating are the millions of souls in limbo, desperate to return to earth.Darina’s mission is clear: she must help Jonas, Summer, Arizona, and impossibly, her beloved Phoenix, right the wrong linked to their deaths to set them free from limbo so that they can finally rest in peace. Will love conquer death? And if it does, can Darina set it free?
Rating on Goodreads:
I don’t do lying. If something is good, I promise I’m going to tell y’all. I acknowledged that Hush, Hush had tolerable prose and did sexual tension well. In this case I’ll admit the idea is bloody brilliant. If this story had been handled differently… ye gaaads! It would have been awesome. It could’ve been potent and deep and relevant. A perfect book combining crime, romance and the paranormal. A brilliant tale of love and loss and moving on and… gawrsh, I get all tingly just thinking about it.
So… why is it not good? Sit tight for the next 1,5 pages and you’ll find out! Here we go.
Let’s look at writing first and I’ll tell you I’m not impressed. This woman does not know what ‘show – don’t tell’ means. I guess she believes it’s the slogan of a football team or something, ‘cause she sure as hell doesn’t use it in her writing. It’s all “I was very sad because my boyfriend died” and “he loved med very much” and that’s great and all, but you really got to show me. Because Maguire just tells the reader what’s going on inside the characters’ heads (even characters whose thoughts she couldn’t possibly know BECAUSE SHE HAS A FIRST PERSON NARRATOR) I don’t feel anything for them. At all. And this is supposed to be about love and mourning and loss and if I don’t feel anything reading a book about dead teenagers, you’re a Very Bad Writer™. I guess it IS a very special kind of achievement. Making someone not care about the death of four teenagers… that’s, wow, that’s really impressive. But sad.
[UNREASONABLE, CHILDISH, UNRELATED BIT - if already angry, skip:
Another thing is just a weird choice of words in two places or something (this is nitpicky, but fun, so bear with me). I’ll give you a sentence and you tell me what you’re thinking:
“He took my head in his hands.”
Are you laughing? Because I am. I know what she means, see, but I also have this image of zombie Joe tearing of Boring Sue’s head and subsequently using it as a bowling ball. Not that that sentence would work in any book but when it’s actually about zombies, that’s just hilarious.]
Maybe it’d be easier to sympathise with the tragedy if Ellerton wasn’t the City of People with No Personalities. The characters are so bland, so boring, so stereotyped and trite. There isn’t a single character that stands out to the reader. Their looks are described but at the last period of a description you forget what you’ve just read. The main character is a no one, literally only described by being in love with her boyfriend and there’s some shit about her not liking to give hugs… which is never shown in any way (okay, so it’s told something like: “I don’t usually like to hug people, but now I made an exception” that’s like me saying: “I never eat raw onions, but now I’m eating a sandwich with onions because that last sentence was just stupid filler and an attempt at characterisation which failed BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW WHAT CHARACTERISATION IS AND MY BRAIN IS AN OTTER”). Her stupid boyfriend is described by being extremely hot (it’s not like I’ve heard that one befo- OH WAIT) and very nice. Guess they are a perfect match, though, because they’re both boring as a cardboard box with a face painted on it. And even the thought of such a box makes me giggle. If the face is funny.
Speaking about the main character… is it a trend to have a TERRIBLEEEH stepfather of TERRIBLEEHNESS who’s terrible for no reason whatsoever? Her stepfather is so horrible… not because he beats her, not because he screws her mother’s sister and forces Darina (I actually forgot her name for a second there, fancy that) to shower with a hairless cat as a sort of weird fetish thing, but because he’s boring… really now? He’s boring and thus you can’t get along with him? He actually stands up for you when someone’s almost physically abused you? But he did it all wrong and stuff anyway? WHAT THE FRICK IS WRONG WITH YOU?! I’m not saying some stepfathers aren’t sent from hell, but this guy isn’t. You’re just being difficult to be difficult. You were used to a father who cheated on your mother and this guy is obviously too boring to cheat on her? You should be happy, you little skank. Not moaning that he’s just so boring. IF YOUR BOYFRIEND WASN’T A ZOMBIE HE’D BE MORE BORING THAN YOUR STEPFATHER.
Oh, I guess that kind of leads up to the plot, right? I already said that this idea is brilliant. I absolutely love the premise, because I do like crime stories and I do like crime stories with supernatural elements and I do like crime stories with supernatural elements with romance. I like zombies, too, and I could’ve even lived with the Stephenie Meyeresque reinvention of zombies if this book had been any good. It’s not. And one thing is the fact that a book like Marked (Twilight is so last year – bashing Marked is the new black) is friggin’ horrible, but it doesn’t have any potential like this does. This could’ve been so good and she just wasted it on a blatant Twilight knock off. That hurts, Maguire, it hurts.
Because I’m telling you: if you want to handle subjects like death and loss, you BETTER be talented enough. You BETTER not turn the whole thing into a romantic plot tumour. You BETTER deal with the subject in a way that’s emotional and respectful and intelligent and thoughtful. This is not to be taken lightly. This is not just stupid f**king vampires. This… this… this is so insulting. There are some subjects you shouldn’t tackle without either having experienced it first hand or doing so much research, your eyes pop out and scream “No more! No more! We get it! You understand loss now, just GIMME A BREAAAK!” That’s stuff like death and mourning, drug abuse, rape, child or domestic abuse, serious illness, and serious crime. That is your responsibility as a writer. If you write for serious, you do the f**king research or terrible people like me have a good reason to bitch slap you.
Turning it into a love story between a bland girl and a BUUUTIFULZ zombie is so insulting. Screw vampire stories – they’re harmless, maybe because their deaths usually aren’t so recent as the zombies’ deaths. I can live with vampires and angels and even werewolves but this is just disturbing on so many levels. I know I said instant awesome = add zombies, but I wasn’t talking about a love story, and I wasn’t talking about books dealing with subjects as serious as this.
There are lots of things I won’t elaborate on: the stupid names (Phoenix? How can I take that seriously?), the ugliness of making out with a dead boy, how two dimensional the bad guy is, how boring the ‘mystery’ is (four teenagers have died and that’s supposed to be coincidence or what? Really?)… there are so many aspects of this that makes it terrible. And it’s so much sadder than many of those bad young adult books because this had actual potential for a good plot.
*Deep breath* Dang.