Undeadly (The Reaper Diaries #1)

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Undeadly (The Reaper Diaries #1)
Author(s)
Age Range
14+
Release Date
November 20, 2012
ISBN
0373210469
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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 boarding school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath.

Life at Nekyia has its plusses. Molly has her own personal ghoul, for one. Rick follows her there out of the blue, for another...except, there's something a little off about him. When students at the academy start to die and Rath disappears, Molly starts to wonder if anything is as it seems. Only one thing is certain­-Molly's got an undeadly knack for finding trouble...

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0  (1)
Characters 
 
4.0  (1)
Writing Style 
 
4.0  (1)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0

A Promising Debut

Undeadly by Michele Vail was a very promising debut! With its fresh ideas and lovely writing, it was a book that really captivated me. While there were a few things I wasn’t as keen on, overall, it was a pretty great read.

The zombies in this book are very cool. I loved the magical element Michele Vail weaves in – it was very different from the typical zombie story. And with that, I also love how she strayed away from the typical zombie bites person, person becomes infected plot line.

The plot was neat, yet I didn’t feel like some aspects of it were pushed far enough. I wasn’t held as captivated by it as I have been with some books that have similar thematic elements or feel. It takes a bit for the plot to get going, but once it does, it takes off and doesn’t let up.

I loved the character of Rath – from the first page he was introduced, I was super intrigued by his character.

Fans of Jennifer Estep and Susan Dennard will love this boarding school tale laced with rich and original mythology. Michele Vails zombies are refreshing and the plot was enticing. The characters were the best gem of Undeadly.

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Overall rating 
 
2.2
Plot 
 
3.0  (2)
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2.0  (2)
Writing Style 
 
1.5  (2)
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Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
2.0

Quite fun if you can stand the narration style

Undeadly is one of those books that when you look back in retrospective makes you wonder: why the hell did I like it? Especially since just a glance at the first sentence reminds me how horrible first person point-of-view narration by Molly was. She used phrases 'like', 'suckitude', 'crap' and other words that authors use to badly imitate teenage lingo. But although at first she was immensely annoying, Molly and her attitude grew on me and the urge to strangle her or yell at her that she is too stupid to live lessened as the world Michele Vail invented pulled me in.

One of the things that I liked is a setting. In an alternate version of Earth where necromancy is not just in fiction, we follow Molly as she struggles with her gift and tries to accept it. And I especially loved Nekyia Academy, private academy, which Molly ends up attending. The atmosphere had Hogwarts feel although with private room and personal servant you can't say Molly is just one of the crowd like Harry Potter.

Another thing that tipped the scales and made me enjoy Undeadly was huge amount of Egyptian mythology used. It's one of my weak spots and it's so rare to find a good book that features Egyptian gods in contemporary setting and with an interesting back-story. And Undeadly certainly had that.

With HUUUGE cliffhanger ending, Michele Vail definitely has me on the edge of my seat eagerly awaiting October 29th 2013 and sequel Unchosen to be published.

IN THE END...
If you like young adult paranormal novels and Egyptian mythology, then Undeadly might be the book you are looking for. But make sure to read the excerpt first before buying, because the style of narration will probably irritate some readers.

Disclaimer: I was given a free eBook by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

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Overall rating 
 
1.3
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2.0
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1.0
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1.0

Molly needs to shut up

Undeadly reminds me a lot of the House of Night series. This is not a good thing. At all.

This novel is still leagues and leagues better than the bestselling vampire series, but there are a few similarities between them. An annoying, judgmental heroine who has been chosen as special beyond all others by her kind's deity, mean girls and cliches galore, and failed attempts at teenspeak are just a few of the similarities.

To begin with, I originally quit reading the novel sixty percent of the way in because I wasn't enjoying myself, but I came back to it a few days later and finished it because I wanted to give it the fair shot it eventually showed it did not deserve. The first few chapters and our introduction to Molly's world are filled with inelegant exposition of how necromancers are an everyday thing and everyone goes to them for their zombie needs. This includes bringing zombies to life, suppressing their massive appetites, and reattaching their arms when they fall off. Though I disliked the artless way in which the world was built, the world itself has a lot of potential. Potential that goes unfulfilled, sadly.

Molly's narrative voice is one of the most forced teen voices I have ever found in young adult literature and it fails badly at seeming even slightly realistic. She uses outdated slang like "it was a mondo ick mess" (80s/90s slang, mind you) and "major suckitude" is at least as old as 2003. One bit of slang, "gigging up my ju-ju", doesn't even use gigging right! Gigging is typically associated with dancing, excitement, or moving from music gig to music gig as if one were clubbing. I believe this takes place in the present day, albeit in an alternate universe, not in the past.

Tolerating her for more than a chapter or two at a time was difficult. Looking down on her fourteen-year-old sister for being passionate about zombie rights? Ugh. Having the cliche-of-all-cliches freakout when she learns something about her family early in the book? Worse. Abbreviations like WTH and BTW in her narrative? I can't. If there is one thing I want from a book, it's that there are no abbreviations in the narrative itself. It's irritating and makes the narrator seem dumb and brings down the quality of the novel.

The side characters were unremarkable. There are the cardboard friends, the jerky new love interest and "old" love interest, the mean girls making Molly's life suck, and all the other requisite elements of paranormal YA. After reading it for so many years, stories like this that indulge in the tropes without doing anything new or deeper with them tire me. I also had a niggle with a character's name; Russian character Irina Derinski's name should be Irina Derinska, as per Russian naming traditions. The character herself? Let's not talk about how transparent she is in her motivations.

There simply isn't any depth here to make Molly and her world interesting enough. There are no questions about how ghouls and ghosts feel about being bound to the living world, as if they have no feelings at all. Molly never thinks about how Henry must feel to be bound to everyone of her family line that comes to Nekyia Academy and being forced to stay around if there is no one of her family there. There could have been so many great questions about what life and death really mean, but they are all passed over for melodrama.

Warning: Undeadly ends on a strong cliffhanger and there's no telling exactly when Unchosen, book two of the Reaper Diaries, will be in stores next year.All I know is that I will not be reading it.

Good Points
*Interesting world
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