Dead Rules by R.S. RussellPaperback, 352 pages
Expected Publication: March 29th 2012 by Quercus Publishing PLC
(First Published June 21st 2011)
Description via Goodreads:
When Jana Webster dies in a tragic accident, she finds herself transferred to 'Dead School' in the afterlife, where students fall into distinct cliques. Risers (good kids who died innocently), Sliders (bad kids, who have one foot tied to earth) and Virgins (there are fewer than Jana would expect). Jana's boyfriend and love of her life - Michael - is still in the land of the living. Michael is Romeo to Jana's Juliet and as the story goes... even death can't keep them apart. Tired of waiting for him to kill himself over his grief of losing her, Jana decides she needs to do it for him. To kill Michael she'll need the help of a dangerous and sexy Slider - Mars Dreamcoate. But Mars has a goal of his own: he wants to save a life to atone for having taken one in a drunk-driving accident. And to complicate matters, he was trying to save Jana when she died and saw what was really going on when her 'accident' happened. Jana decides to do whatever it takes to get Michael back, and nothing - not even Mars' warm touch or the devastating secret he holds about her death - will stop her.
My thanks go to Quercus for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Whilst I thought that the idea behind this book was fascinating, unfortunately this book was just not for me. I loved the idea of 'Dead School', where this book is set, but I thought that the execution was a little lacking with the numerous plot holes and not-so engaging characters. I can see that quite a few people will enjoy this though, especially if you like reading paranormal books with a strong focus on romance and (sort-of) love triangles. The story is like a twisted version of Romeo and Juliet, which sounds good but could've been better.
Jana, our main character, dies whilst bowling with her boyfriend, Michael, and their friends. She is quickly transported to 'Dead School' which is quite self explanatory - a school where those who have died go for a certain amount of time. There we are introduced to Risers (the 'good' people), Sliders (those who are 'bad'), Greys (those who have committed suicide) and Virgins (virgins who are seen as angel-like figures). I have to admit that I had a bit of a problem with the how the 'Greys' were portrayed - It was as if those who had committed suicide were singled out, looked down upon and punished. Sure, this is a fictional world that the author has created, with it's own rules, but it just didn't sit right with me. Then again, throughout this novel, I think that there are quite a few times when you will ask yourself what kind of behaviour is right or wrong. I also had a bit of an issue with the sexual references in the book. I'm by no means a prude or easily offended, but it just seemed like I was reading a book with with some random sexual references thrown in for the sake of it - there wasn't actually any need. The writing in this book felt as though it was for younger teens, but the content is definitely more for older teens.
The characters that we're introduced to in Dead School were interesting. I found their thoughts on the afterlife and the stories of how they died to be rather fascinating. There were a few recollections of obscure deaths which did make quite successful, yet bizarre, stories in themselves. I especially enjoyed reading about the Sliders, the main two being Mars Dreamcote and his friend, Wyatt. I'm not a fan of certain strange names in books and Mars Dreamcote was one of those names that made me cringe! That was quite easy to forgive though as I did like his character - he was a seen as 'bad', a rebel, but his intentions felt down to earth and sensitive - I can see why Jana liked him. I enjoyed finding out more about his friendship with Wyatt and how he ended up in Dead School.
As for the people she left on living Earth, I just couldn't stand them. I wasn't meant to like them, sure, but they were just simply awful. From the little we found out about Michael (Jana's boyfriend), he seemed totally arrogant and rather egotistical. When we find out more about him, he just seems like more despicable. From the start, I also found Jana's interest in him just too obsessive. When she dies, he is the only thing that she thinks about and tries to find a way to murder him just so that they could be together. Jana wasn't very logical - she was 'blinded' by her love which contributed to her poorly made decisions.
Despite not liking the characters very much, I think that, apart from the setting, the plot behind how Jana died when she was with Michael and her friends was the most interesting part of the story. It held the most mystery and intrigue, but it still could've been more complex.
Unfortunately, this book was simply not for me. It felt a little disjointed and had too many plot holes for my liking. Whilst I did like some of them, I couldn't connect with any of the characters which is something that I need to be able to do to have an enjoyable reading experience. The idea was there, but it felt all over the place and slightly confusing at points. I'm not sure whether there'll be a sequel (there wasn't a solid conclusion) but if so, I probably wouldn't read it. I understand that a lot of people have read and enjoyed this one, it's just a shame I am not one of those!