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Dead Set

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  1,555 Ratings  ·  221 Reviews
Acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Richard Kadrey creates a wonderful, stand-alone dark fantasy

After her father's funeral, Zoe moved to the big city with her mother to start over. But change always brings trials, and life in the city is not so easy. Money is tight, and Zoe's only escape, as has always been the case, is in her dreams—a world apart from her troubled
ebook, 320 pages
Published October 29th 2013 by Harper Voyager
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Montzalee Wittmann
Dead Set by Richard Kadrey is set in very crazy world of the dead. The girl in the story finds a record store, the man has a record that lets her hear her deceased father's life. There is more to the bargain. Much more. It is a creepy read and I loved every minute! I don't want to tell more but it is certainly exciting!
Wil Wheaton
Readers who are fans of Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim series who are expecting something as dark and gritty as that wonderful series will probably be disappointed by Dead Set. However, readers who are looking for a realistic portrayal of a teenage girl in turmoil, who is a heroine you can definitely cheer for, will find a lot to enjoy in this quick and evocative volume.

I did not know that it marketed as Young Adult, but I figured out that it clearly was YA as the story unfolded. It's something t
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy, z-2014, ya
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“Most people, even the ones we hold dear, are seldom what we think.”

Zoe is struggling to cope with the recent devastation of her father’s death. He left Zoe and her mother destitute and the two were forced to move into a small, dingy apartment to make ends meet. Zoe and her father both shared a love of music, of punk mus
Lauren Scharhag
Oct 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a fan of the Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim novels, I jumped at the chance to pick up a copy of his newest novel, a YA horror/fantasy called Dead Set.

If Neil Gaiman and Chuck Palahniuk had a love child, it would look something like Dead Set. A young heroine has been dropped into a Gaiman scenario. The liberal sprinkling of myth and folklore, from Sumer to Greece to the Brothers Grimm, is also very Gaiman-esque. But the story has a Palahniuk-like edge, the heroine, Palahniuk pluck (I was remin
Beth Cato
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kadrey is very good at writing creepy and dark--that comes across quite well in his very-adult Sandman Slim series. It turns out, he's also very good at writing creepy and dark young adult books. This really struck me as a cross between Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint's Newford books, and I could completely see this as a Miyazaki film.

Kadrey also wrote Zoe as one of the most realistic, gritty teens I've encountered in a book recently (another fantastic example of literary teenagers being Fangir
See this review and others like it at!

3.5 stars

I was a little wary when I saw the Richard Kadrey had written a young adult novel. His Sandman Slim series is very violent and gritty and in no way appropriate for kids so I was intrigued to see what Dead Set would contain. Mr. Kadrey's signature dark imagination is in full-bore here, but he tempered some of the more violent elements of his writing and captured the voice of a teenaged girl fairly well.

Dead Set is based around
Dec 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-idea
This book was really frustrating to read. Kadrey did a very good job at keeping the pace moving so you just keep devouring the book. Kadrey failed at making sense as far as motivations and goals of the characters went. Also Kadrey took a moment to have Zoey reassure her dad that of course he would have done the "right thing" and sacrificed himself for his abusive father like she did for him.

I am not putting this in all-caps because you probably don't need me yelling at you, but seriously? What t
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)

Young Zoe has moved to San Francisco with her mother after her father’s sudden death to start fresh. It’s hard enough for her to fit in, with her taste in old punk music, a taste instilled by her music biz parents, and the fact that her father’s death has left a hole that has caused her to withdraw into herself, but her mom is having a tough time finding a job as well. Almost nightly she dreams, and it’s in her dreams that she finds herself in the company
Kimberly [Come Hither Books]
A new standalone book by the author of the Sandman Slim series - very different feel from Sandman Slim though.

Unlike Kadrey's gritty, violent urban fantasy novels, Dead Set stars a teen protagonist, Zoe, whose grief over her father's recent death leads her down a dark path. In an overlooked record shop, her father's life is stored on a record and she can listen. For a price. First, a lock of hair. Then, a tooth...

Dead Set would be an appropriate read for older teens who enjoy something a little
Dec 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2013
3.5 Stars

As a fan of Richard Kadrey, I went into Dead Set with high expectations. This is a book that really is perfect for the YA crowd. The book centers on Zoe, a troubled young teen girl who is trying to find her place in this world. She misses her dead father. She fights with her mother. She is a cutter. Zoe is looking for something more, and boy does she find it.

This is an easy afternoon read that moves along at a swift pace. I liked Zoe a lot and she easily carries this story. I love that
Feb 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Orpheus and Eurydice's teenaged daughters
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work
No one really knows where people go when they die... but if the scenario in Richard Kadrey's standalone dark fantasy Dead Set is anywhere near correct, the afterlife is a pretty dark and forbidding place. Best known these days as the author of the (very) adult series of "Sandman Slim" novels, Kadrey would seem an odd choice to write a novel with a teenaged girl as a protagonist. I won't call this a "Young Adult" novel—despite the age of its protagonist, this book deals with some pretty dark them ...more
Jan 09, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dead Set by Richard Kadrey is marketed as a teen paranormal novel. Which is something of a departure for Kadrey since he is best known for his Sandman Slim novels.
After the death of her father, Zoe and her mother relocate to San Francisco to try to start their life anew. With the lack of jobs and trying to fit in at a new school, life is hard. Add on to it an insurance company that refuses to pay out, and Zoe and her mom are struggling to just get by.
The only time Zoe finds any release is in
Nov 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dead Set was the perfect read for this time of year and just as incredible as I expected it to be. After seeing Richard Kadrey on a panel at San Diego Comic Con last year, Kadrey left an impression on me so I jumped at the chance to read his latest book and was blown away. Typically, I would have been turned off by dreams but that's just the starting point. I was hooked when Zoe first walked into the record store...with no one else but the owner in sight. What's crazy is that the atmosphere isn' ...more
Feb 14, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Please note: I was given a promotional/free copy by Harper Voyager U.S

The first 50 pages of this book pulled me deeply in. His writing is smooth, the colors are bright and the mystery just gets deeper. By page 100 I couldn't put it down but then somewhere around 150-200 he lost me. The story became separated. I lost interest in my main character and it begin to read like the book it is - a young adult book. Things weren't quite adding up to me. I could not find it to feel real but maybe that is
Kathleen (QueenKatieMae)
It's not as gritty or rough as the Sandman Slim series as it's written for the YA crowd. But it has the familiar elements of Egyptology and myths and Hell and punk rock and the underworld. The MC is a teenage girl who lost her father and her comfortable way of life, leaving her depressed and, at one point, suicidal. Her best "friend" is her deceased brother she sees only in her dreams. It's so beautifully Kadry-twisted. Even the underworld town of Iphigene will be easily recognizable to his Sand ...more
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I actually hesitated over buying this book! What a regret that would have been. I absolutely adored this gritty YA novel, and here are a few reasons why;

*It's dark, but not over the top nightmares dark. There's death, and snakes ripping people up, ghosts, people with stitched up faces and limbs made of metal, but somehow it was never revulsion I felt.
*There is almost zero romance. There is no lusting, no longing, no perfect boy to keep the heroine on track. There is a boy, but he's her BROTHER.
Fantasy Literature
Zoe’s parents were punks in San Francisco when they met and fell in love. Zoe’s father managed punk bands, while her mother was a graphic artist, designing album covers. When they realized they were going to have a child, they went into the straight life, although Zoe’s dad never left punk music behind. Now Zoe is sixteen, her father is dead, and her mother is battling a heartless insurance company that is refusing to pay. They have moved from their pleasant house in the San Francisco East Bay a ...more
One of the downsides of reading a certain author whose work you really enjoy is when they step away from their normal genre and attempt something a little different. That was the case with this work, as he tried young adult mode (at least, I think that was his intent). I almost gave it two stars, but it wasn't poorly written or just didn't capture me. I sped through some sections, nothing seemed all that exciting or particularly new. I liked the premise (somewhat like a poorer rela ...more
Mathew Carruthers
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't figure out why readers aren't giving this more kudos than what it's gotten. Kadrey is a brilliant story-teller and this is a brilliantly told story - but it is not his usual frenzy of bloodshed and mayhem as in his Sandman Slim series. There are some familiar themes, though: loss and redemption, a journey to the underworld, and classic punk rock. I think every Kadrey book I've read has featured a journey to the underworld of some sort - and has mentioned Martin Denny. I really should giv ...more
A content warning that this book does contain self-harm and mental health. Things I will be mentioning and discussing briefly in the review.

I realize that it is difficult to not compare works by the same author to one another, but I'm personally not one of those people. I find it to be a counter-productive exercise and unfair to whatever it is I am reading. I'll either love or hate the elements of other books that are there or are not there and it will never be its own. I remember years ago atte
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Richard Kadrey uses a little Egyptian mythology to explore the afterlife with his novel Dead Set. Following the death of her father, Zoe has been uprooted from familiar settings and dropped into a cramped apartment with her mother. Job searches and insurance paperwork are taking its toll on mom; a boring new school and abstinence from cutting are vexing Zoe. Wondering the streets one afternoon, Zoe finds an antique record shop with some unique albums. Finding one that allows her to peer into her ...more
Simi Sunny
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books of all time! It's hard that Zoe and her mother were having a hard time, after her father passed away. And ever since she attempted suicide, Zoe found away to escape from reality. I wish escaping reality through dreams would be better. I can never bring myself to get good dreams. Well I'm sure other people have ways to escape from loneliness and anxiety. For me, it's reading books. And just like her, I always feel alone which makes me feel depressed. More importantly, I d ...more
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad book for young adult readers. Very Alice in Wonderland meets Dante's Inferno.

I'm a big fan of Kadrey's usual writing, but this felt very toned down for me compared to his normal grindhouse film turned book style. Although the grungy afterlife setting and the love for angry music definitely gave it a familiar tone to his other novels. I did enjoy the how he handled the themes of dealing with the loss of a loved one and the sacrifices people make to keep going.

It started off a little r
Maya Harvey
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic story that kept me until the end, though not what I've come to expect from this author. It could just be that this book was aimed at teens and young adults, but it's much less visceral than his other works, and, aside from knowing that I liked it, I can't remember much of the story elements only a year after reading. I know there's something about dead family members and horrid Egyptian constructs, and that's about it. OH and that souls are apparently turned into vinyl records. I lik ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I've been wanting to pick up the Sandman Slim series again, but I'm in the middle of a couple other series right now and don't want to get sucked in, thus--I picked up one of Kadrey's standalones. And I was not disappointed. Great characters, world, and plot. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I do think he could have done a lot more with it, which I would have adored--but I understand that he didn't. As it is, I think it lacks just a bit of tension and depth that would make me truly love it, but I en ...more
MC Hall
Jun 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I really wanted to like this book. The synopsis for it sounded super intriguing.

I couldn't bond with Zoe. I think if I could have felt closer to her, then maybe I could have liked this book a little more.

I really liked Valentine and his whole story. The one star is for him.

But I didn't like much else about it. It was very... "...really? this is what they are giving us? couldn't have come up with anything better?"

I wanted very much to like it. Didn't at all. Will be donating my copy.
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually read young adult books, but I've read most of Richard Kadrey's other work and I spotted this for sale at the library so I picked it up. It wasn't bad, I think I would have liked it a lot when I was a tween. As an adult, it was missing something. So, 4 stars for being good at being a book for teens read by an adult who mostly skipped over the"young adult book" phase.
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was like the author tried to cram a dozen different styles into one book and then when he realized none of it made and sense he just shrugged and published it anyway. Also the characters were not very believe as real people.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Waited a while to read this one, after tackling all of Richard's SMS books (up to date). You can see a lot of what went into the SMS series reflected here... great premise and engaging story!
Eric Miller
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ah yes....young adult. kinda not all there for my taste....but so wonderfully well wrought. I would love to see this made into a film a la neil gaiman's mirror mask work....
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #9 Dead Set by Richard Kadrey 1 1 Jan 06, 2015 07:12PM  
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Richard Kadrey is a writer and freelance photographer living in San Francisco, best known for his Sandman Slim novels. His newest novels are The Everything Box, released April 19, 2016 and The Perdition Score (Sandman Slim, #8), released on June 28, 2016.
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