UNDEADLY (The Reaper Diaries #1)
Paranormal Young Adult
Received via NetGalley for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird...
Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her
zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses
her to become a reaper—and she accidentally undoes the work of another
reaper, Rath. Within days, she's shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an
elite boarding school that trains the best necromancers in the world.
And her personal reaping tutor? Rath.
Life at Nekyia has its
plusses. Molly has her own personal ghoul, for one. Rick follows her
there out of the blue, for another...except, there's something a little
off about him. When students at the academy start to die and Rath
disappears, Molly starts to wonder if anything is as it seems. Only one
thing is certain—-Molly's got an undeadly knack for finding trouble....
Undeadly captivates instantly with a world in which zombies are a normal part of society – families paying to have their loved ones reanimated even though they are shells of their former selves – and continues to hold our interest as the zombies are fascinatingly linked to Egyptian mythology and reapers. There’s a great deal of promise in this story, an intriguing array of elements singing a siren’s song that draws us forward from one page to the next, wanting to experience what’s being beautifully offered, however, all the disparate elements never truly mix to create one cohesive storyline, instead all the pieces move around separately to leave us a touch disoriented.
Molly is a young woman who, like the story of which she’s an intrinsic part, has a great deal of potential to be the type of underdog we as readers can’t help but want to see succeed given the seemingly insurmountable odds she faces. Though she’s sixteen, her character reads as a very young sixteen, her dialogue and inner monologue full of a lot of “whatevs” and “hellos” with sarcastic emphasis on the last syllable to continuously remind older readers (like me) just how far apart in age we truly are. Aside from her perhaps overly youthful language and mannerisms, we never really get to know the person she is, our desire to peel back all the layers of her we sense are there often thwarted as we skip from one event to the next before we get a glimpse of the depth we’re looking for.
The synopsis for this tale is slightly misleading (at least it was for me), the emphasis on Rath and the promise of an antagonistic relationship between them unfortunately playing an exceedingly minor role as Rath is absent for majority of the book. When he does come into play, the implied dislike between them isn’t as prominent as the pleasant tingles Molly gets in his presence, and his attitude toward her, aside from a few callous remarks while training her, is more often than not warm, complete with a charming nickname he coins for her early on. While the less-than tense nature of their relationship isn’t necessarily a bad thing once expectations are properly adjusted, we again don’t get the opportunity to delve deeper into their relationship, staying firmly on the surface as we're jostled by several different plotlines all vying for our undivided attention.
Overall, Undeadly is a well-written story – if a little all over the map in terms of action – that presents us with a reaper/necromancer mythology that has us wanting to devour the pages to see what we’ll learn next. This first installment ends with a flurry of activity and a mighty cliffhanger, leaving us wishing for a bit more from the story itself and hoping the next book might give us some growth on Molly’s part as well as some additional page time so we might explore the intricacies we know are there just beneath the hard surface we couldn’t quite crack this time out.