Alisha's Reviews > Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between

Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between by J.A. Saare
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's review
Jul 03, 2010

it was amazing
Recommended for: UF fans of kick-butt female protagonists
Read from June 20 to 28, 2010

Rating: 4.5
(I had this as four stars until I got to the last few chapters. Which rocked my damn socks off.)

Overall, I found this to be an awesome series starter. Basically, it's about sassy bartender, Rhiannon Murphy, and her induction (of sorts) into the world of the dead and undead. She's grappled with many past (metaphorical) demons as well as her own rare ability to see dead people. Along with her new partners-in-crime, fellow necromancer Ethan "Goose" McDaniel and mysterious vampire "Disco," she attempts to solve mysterious disappearances that might involve the living and undead alike.

Though ultimately I ended up super digging the book, for some reason it took me a handful of chapters to get into the story and characters. Even now I'm having trouble describing why that was. Rhiannon had this voice, rife with endless Badass-isms, that either grew on me or mellowed out with the unfolding of the story (but either way, grated at first). I couldn't reconcile the (again) "superbadass" nature of her personality with her extreme scaredy-cat behavior when it came to something she's been exposed to for most (or the entirety?) of her life: the (un)dead. Disco for some reason just didn't seem to illicit any reaction from me (pos or neg) for a while. I just don't know! Whatever the case may be, I found my interest was slow to start.

And then "boom" went the dynamite! ^_^ The book just went on an upward trajectory of awesomeness. Ms. Saare must have either lived in, visited, or extensively researched New York because the environment felt real and lived in, more than the result of random name-dropping of locales. The characters were intriguing, as well; yeah, I know what I said above about Rhiannon and Disco but as the story progresses there's a whole lot of internal digging and character development. I specifically enjoyed getting to know Disco's family and their stories and relationships (especially Paine; he could support a whole series himself, and I'd run to read it).

In fact, in my opinion this was a character-oriented book. That is to say, it seemed like the main plot thread/dilemma was there to serve, feature and develop the characters, rather than the other way around (or an equal measure of both). I felt like one of the biggest focuses of the book was delving into Rhiannon's psyche and tracking her personal development as a necromancer. For me, the main mystery was secondary to that.

Another thing about characters (which is neither here nor there I guess)...there were no fewer than 60-odd names to keep track of (I took notes to keep it straight in my addled brain ^_^). Granted, only about 10 are critical to following the plot, with even fewer being "main" characters (Rhiannon, Disco and Goose).

I feel I should also note that the book does have some dark themes and difficult scenes (including some explicit violence and depictions of domestic/sexual abuse). Pretty tough stuff, but the way Saare weaves it into her tale is nothing short of amazing and gripping.

So yeah. This book was a ride, ending with a cliffhanger that melted me where I sat. The Renfield Syndrome cannot come soon enough, and I know it's going to be an absolute knockout with the great setup it's been given.

P.S./sidenote: I've noticed some reviews taking issue with some of the editing on the book (go read them to see what I mean). I personally don't pay attention to my inner editor when it comes to my reads, unless it screws with comprehension. So I leave extensive discussion of such out of this review, though I don't completely disagree with some of the points brought up in relation to it.
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Reading Progress

06/20/2010 "Ha! First page and we've got a stripper wearing platforms with little goldfish in them. Whatever the reason, I love it. ^_^"
06/20/2010 "'I was on the nine, slinging the money, when I noticed someone standing over the pocket.' Bartender speak for....?" 9 comments
50.0% "Found the groove. I'm intrigued by Disco's family...especially Paine." 1 comment
93.0% "HOLY MOLEY this climax is unbelievable. Saare is pulling out all the damn stops. AHHH!"
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Vered (new) - added it

Vered waiting for the review!


Alisha Vered wrote: "waiting for the review!

There ya go, m'lady! ^_^

message 3: by Vered (new) - added it

Vered ::bows with appreciation:: Great review :)
I'm definitely going to read. But what do you do with the cliffhanger???

Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead Alisha, great review!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) Great review, Alisha. It sounds like a worthy read.

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