Readers who've stuck around the Bookshelf for awhile might remember my undying love for Lisa McMann's Wake trilogy, and my passionate open letter in its defense last January, and thus understand how excited I was for Dead to You. Those who haven't been around that long? Suffice to say I was excited. Really excited. Unfortunately, though, it didn't quite live up to expectations.
It's not that Ethan isn't a sympathetic character, or that his voice didn't ring true: he is, and it did. In fact, Ethan's voice was in many ways more distinctive than Janie's in Wake. It's not that the story wasn't interesting, or that there wasn't enough tension, or that it didn't keep me guessing till the very end. It's just that it felt...well, empty, like eating popcorn on an empty stomach. I put it down in a daze, and then didn't let it cross my mind for weeks.
The ending, in particular, felt like a sucker punch. Sick as I am of cliffhanger endings, I can't exactly hold it against McMann for trying to pull it off: they definitely sell books, and can even work as part of the story when done right. It's just that in a story already full of suspension of belief--a childhood kidnapping AND amnesia AND a girl-next-door romance AND family drama, and, and, and--one more gimmick was not what the story needed.
It's still a badass book from a badass writer. I just can't help thinking it could have been something more.