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Dead Set

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,752 ratings  ·  245 reviews
After her father’s funeral, Zoe and her mother moved to the Big City to start over. But life’s not so easy, the money is tight, and a new school brings trials. Fortunately, she has an escape: her dreams. A world of freedom and solace removed from the loneliness and anxieties of real life, Zoe's dreamscape offers another, more precious, gift: It is the only place where she ...more
Hardcover, 309 pages
Published October 29th 2013 by Harper Voyager
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Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,752 ratings  ·  245 reviews

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Wil Wheaton
May 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, dark-fantasy
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
Montzalee Wittmann
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, urban-fantasy
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 m
Lauren Scharhag
Oct 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Christal (Badass Book Reviews)
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
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: read-2013, e-books
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
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Richard Kadrey is an author I really enjoy reading-I love his Sandman Slim novels and have even read the first book in the series twice, something I rarely do. In Dead Set Kadrey delivers an entertaining and trippy journey to a "modern" underworld as experienced by Zoe, a teen whose father has recently passed away. Some of the things in this book might disturb a normal person-the afterlife presented here is not particularly pleasant. However I think you can take it Constant Reader. Remember: Kad ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ok young adult urban fantasy about a girl whose father died recently and who's having a rough time of it in a new school without any friends. ...more
Sep 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 16, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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
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
Kathleen Minde
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
Shelves: owned
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.
Nov 04, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Fantasy Literature
Apr 12, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Mathew Carruthers
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Shannon | Firefly Lane Blog
In a few words, I would describe this book as an original and interesting page-turner.
It was filled with fresh ideas about the afterlife told with a fantasy twist. Kadrey held my interest throughout the whole book and I was invested in Zoe and Valentine’s stories.

Zoe is a teenage girl who has recently lost her father. She and her mother are forced to move into a small apartment when finances get tough. She now has to navigate her life at a new school in a rougher neighbourhood.

Since Zoe was a
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
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
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
Samantha Meyers
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it
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
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
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
Sep 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I missed the graphic and unexpected humour of the Sandman Slim series but that's all on me and my own preconceptions. It's a good story and I can envision a series out of it if Kadrey is so inclined. Honestly, I personally think it should have been classified as YA and I suspect that the only reason it isn't is that he's never before written YA. To an adult, it's a great idea become a good but not stellar story, written in a manner that would very much appeal to the 12-17 age bracket. Still, you ...more
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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. ...more

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