Author: Richard Kadrey
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: October 2013
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Horror
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
I received a free copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Zoe and her mom are in trouble. Zoe’s father has died, the insurance company is a mess and they’ve had to give up their home to move to the Big City where Zoe’s mom looks for work. They are pretty poor, stressed out and barely scraping by. So when Zoe wanders into a used record store and meets the man who says she can visit her father again, for a price, she jumps at the chance. But Zoe doesn’t realize what she’s getting into, or what the ultimate price really means.
There were some really great things about this book. The world where these souls live is very disturbing, the Queen and the shop keeper being the craziest of all. There’s a good deal of horror including scary enemies that can bite your flesh and chew on your soul. This alternate world is interesting at the same time it’s threatening, leaving me to re-read descriptions with a shiver running down my back.
I liked Zoe’s relationship with her mom the best. I thought their complex back and forth was realistic and sad. Her mom ‘s character is stretched thin and Zoe feels it in everything she does in the real world. I liked the tension it brought to Zoe’s normal life, and the contrast to it the first time she visits the other side and sees her Dad.
Zoe is a strange mix for a teenage girl. A couple of dialogs I believed she was a teenage girl while others sometimes felt like she was much much younger than that. Also, in some situations, she didn’t catch on quickly and her reasoning seemed shallow and not well developed. Truthfully, I didn’t have a good grasp on Zoe’s character and even Valentine, her dream brother, was blurry at best.
Having not read any other Kadrey books, I’m not sure if his writing style is for me. Perhaps it’s because this is his YA book and he felt the need to do this, but I felt like the writing and plot was little dumbed down. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe this is the case for YA writing or books at all. But I did feel like everything was almost over simplified and I don’t know if this is the case with his book series Sandman Slim.
Overall, Dead Set is a dark and creepy tale of lost souls and evil Queens, highlighted by the wonderful world beyond ours. And while it held my attention to the end, sadly, I didn’t feel any emotional connection to the characters.
Rating 4 Okay