Beth's Reviews > Deadly Cool

Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday
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Oct 13, 11

bookshelves: 2011-reads, guilty-pleasure, october-2011, read-on-kindle
Read on October 12, 2011

2.5 stars

Gahhh! Such a...bland book.

Let's start with the good stuff. I maybe read Deadly Cool in two hours. Despite being fairly long, it's incredibly fast and pretty good fun. I'm a huuuuuge Veronica Mars fan, so a mystery in high school was right up my street. If you love mystery, and don't mind it being fairly light and fluffy, I would read this. However, maybe get it from the library instead of buying it? There's really no reread value in this one at all, and apat from Hartley's sparky voice and the incredible speed of the plot and general enjoyment factor, there's not much else to recommend. Although my personal rating is 2.5, I've been changing my GoodReads rating backwards and forwards from 2 and 3 since finishing it. "I liked it" and "it was okay" - both of these are totally, mutually true.

Although Hartley isn't a loathable character - there are very few BITCH WHAT U SMOKING?! moments of ridicule and/or absurdity. She isn't wholly stupid. Okay, she meets people in dark fields late at night even though she's definitely the killer's next victim, which is the very definition of stupidity, but Halliday just about convinces me that Hartley's diehard certainty of Josh's innocence is a human flaw rather than a hallmark of a total moron. Also, although it sped the story along and justified her actions well, Hartley's voice felt very, very dated to me. I'm not sure what it was. There were a lot of pop-culture references - CSI, Kings of Leon, Paris Hilton, Facebook, Myspace - that made me squirm. I don't like pop culture references in general (although they can be used to enhance the somewhat 'period' setting, like the late-90s era of We Need To Talk About Kevin) because I think it's a sign that the book will date very badly. Also, perhaps even worse, there were some uses of very modern slang like "facepalm", which made me cringe. This book came out YESTERDAY in the UK, but there was such an influx of modern and fashionable references that felt so modern that they were on the cusp of becoming dated, if that makes any logical sense? Coupled with Hartley's almost-but-not-quite grating voice - sprinkled with an unbelievable amount of slang like "dude", "like", "so" and "totally", like a bad valley girl imitation - this felt almost like an adult trying too hard to be 'down with the kidz.' I'm aware of how snobby that sounds, but the voice just didn't feel organic to me at all.

I'm ashamed to say that I did not figure out the killer, so kudos to Gemma Halliday. I'm not trying to sound like a 'sore loser' with this point, because I LOVE it when a book surprises me, but, even though I didn't guess the killer, it wasn't really a surprise? That sounds weird, I know, but what I'm trying to say is that I was expecting it to be less obvious than it was. Also, since I have been insulting this book, I did think that the setting was well-drawn and it did feel like I could have been there. The best thing of all, though, was definitely the pacing. Halliday knows exactly how to space out her plot twists, how much time to give to every plot point and - most importantly - how to keep her audience reading. I definitely was.

Unfortunately, very unfortunately, Halliday's characters are this book's ultimate failure. Criticisms of Hartley aside, her love interests (thankfully given very little face time in the novel) and the romance angle is downplayed, but it doesn't change the fact that this is a cliched, pathetic, trite and irritating excuse for one. The two love interests are the biggest cliches since Unlucky Childhood Friend: there's Josh (Dickish Spineless Football Player) and Chase (Rugged Bad Boy). Chase was such a massive, massive cliche. He wears black all the time and, just in case we thought he was a poser (spoiler: I did!), Halliday gets Gemma to say over and over that 'somehow Chase made it work.' Well, of course he did, Hartley, because he's your super special love interst. Speaking of which - he is, of course, totally ripped, and Hartley - who is a virgin - thinks that, if her boyfriend had been ripped like that, he probably wouldn't have had the problems getting her to have sex with him. Mostly irritatingly of all, though, (view spoiler) All the other characters are cliches and/or just quirks with legs -- Hartley's best friend, Sam, comes to mind. I learned nothing about Sam except that her parents were desperate for her to go to Stanford (repeated about x2000 times a page...approximately) and she'd tried to stop swearing because her dumb-as-rocks boyfriend told her that it was 'unfeminine.' I remember thinking, when I was reading that, that if a boy said that to me, I'd have a few unfeminine things to say to him. But, yeah, that means that, while Sam does absolutely nothing useful, we're subjected to swearword substitutes like "effing" (approx. x5000000 a page) which are supposed to be funny, but really, really aren't.

SPOILER paragraph on the killer. So the motive could have been pulled out of thin air and there were very no clues that I remembered except for the totally obvious ones (view spoiler), but the motive was vaguely interesting. I mean, there was no emotional range to the killer at all - s/he was just a manic psycho, which I suppose is to be expected, but s/he wasn't really developed at all, just took off his/her metaphorical mask and became totally fruit-loop crazy. However, what really irritated me was the total stupidity shown in the last 10 pages or so. While this book had hardly been a masterwork of style, strucuture and logic, there were so many stupid things done that I spent much of those last 10 pages rolling my eyes. (view spoiler)

This book isn't really as bad as I've made it sound -- it's not offensive, it's just a collection of stupid cliches strung along a very well-paced line. Bland and throwaway.
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10/12/2011
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Wendy Darling Hah, I "liked" this in support many moons ago, but I just read it and I have to say I really enjoyed it! I didn't really take it very seriously, though, just thought it was a lighthearted read.


Beth know! I just reread my review and I think I may have been a little harsh -- it's not meant to be taken seriously but it wasn't really my brand of humour. To be honest with you, I would have loved this if I'd found it a little funnier. Also, the love triangle reallyreally bugged me just because cliches bug me! But I was way too harsh on the mystery, which I actually remember being good. I just read your review and I totally get why you loved it. I just couldn't really be buoyed along by the narrative voice (which annoyed me) or the humour.


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