Man, it’s so neat reading a book that straddles the line between two market categories that I really, really, really enjoy. Y’all, I am a bit unsure of how to classify Joy Preble’s The Sweet Dead Life. It’s not middle grade, but I would not quite classify it as young adult either. If you’re looking for a totally irreverent mystery with angels that are not the object of lust, you definitely need to give The Sweet Dead Life a chance. Personally, I was not at all a fan of the cover, but I’ve been intrigued by the book for awhile because mysteries are awesome, SO as I began to read my TBR stack based on page count, this book came up and holy wow was it a good sort of surprise. Let that be a lesson to look beyond a cover you are not so sure about.
Set in Houston Texas, The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble is about a girl named Jenna whose family is slowly falling apart. Her mother can barely get out of bed, much less leave the house. Her brother, Casey, is perpetually high and has basically had to drop out of school to work two jobs. Jenna is very ill, but no one can figure out what exactly it is. Her father left home one day and never came back. He’s gone without a trace. You would think looking at this book on just the surface that it would be super dour and depressing, but actually, you guys it is kind of funny and a bit self-deprecating. You see, this is not a spoiler because it is on the back cover, but at one point Casey dies and becomes an angel and well, Jenna still thinks he is annoying and weird. Anyways, Casey continues to help Jenna and is super focused on helping her figure out why she’s sick and who exactly is causing it. Y’all, a mystery is on our hands.
So, Jenna consistently uses vocabulary words like asshat and it is awesome. For an eighth grader, she feels older than her age on some things, mainly her use of profanity. She also walks in on her brother hanging out with his hand if you know what I mean, so yeah, hahaha Jenna is very um, honest and hilarious. She has a very hard life situation, but she still plugs away at school every day, rocks awesome cowboy boots, and loves her family members even when they don’t act perfect. I basically loved Jenna for who she is. I will also let you guys know that there is zero romance in this book. Jenna might have a little crush, but that’s not the focus at all, thank goodness.
I might have mentioned above that there is a paranormal element in the book. ANGELS. In this book, they are basically humans but without flaws like acne and you know they have ripped stomachs. Anyways, Casey becomes one and he has this girl who guides him through the process, Amber. Unfortunately, Jenna finds her to be kind of weird and creepy and she does not censor those thoughts. It’s again, hilarious. I should tell you guys that this book is written as a series of entries from Jenna’s journal. If you like that sort of thing, I bet you will love The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble. Overall, I had no idea what to expect when I first opened this book, maybe a trite paranormal romance. What I got instead was a mystery full of hilarity and heart.
Disclosure: Review Copy Obtained At BEA 2012