YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner
Publisher: Dial
Publication Date: June 10th 2010
Bronze star (2/5 stars)

Synopsis: For months, Cass Meyer has heard her best friend Julia, a wannabe Broadway composer, whispering about a top-secret project. Then Julia is killed in a sudden car accident, and while Cass is still reeling from her death, Julia’s boyfriend and her other drama friends make it their mission to bring to fruition the nearly-completed secret project: a musical about an orphaned ninja princess entitled Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad.

Cass isn’t one of the drama people. She doesn’t feel at home with Julia’s drama friends, and she doesn’t see a place for her in the play. Things only get worse when she finds out that Heather Galloway, the girl who made her miserable all through middle school, has been cast as the ninja princess.

Cass can’t take a summer of swallowing her pride and painting sets, so she decides to follow her original plan for a cross-country road trip with Julia. Even if she has a touring bicycle instead of a driver’s license, and even if Julia’s ashes are coming along in Tupperware.

Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad is a story about friendship. About love. About traveling a thousand miles just to find yourself. About making peace with the past, and making sense of it. And it’s a story about the bloodiest high school musical one quiet suburb has ever seen.

Review: I admit, what I thought would be Paper Towns meets Glee turned out to be just a medicore read. Let’s start with what I enjoyed about this novel. I particularly loved the story idea. It was unique, fresh, exactly what I was craving for. The cover was also very well done and the title was very clever. If the title had not caught my eye, the big and bold cover would have. However, the book did not deliver the story I wanted.

Things I didn’t like:
1. The writing. It took me a while to get used to the alternating POVs between the past and the present. I often found myself confused and had to flip back to check if it was the past or the present. Sometimes, the dialogue seemed forced and unbelievable.

2. Cass. I found myself unable to connect with her, her grief towards Julia’s death was evident but the romance with Heather was a flop. Throughout the novel, I felt that I was being told that Cass had a crush on Heather and it wasn’t clear what aspect of Heather made her fall in love with her. (If it was explained in great detail somewhere in the book, apologies.) Also, Cass’s parents felt absent throughout the entire novel.

3. Inconsistent plot. Although the chapters alternated from “Then” and “Now”, the following “Then” and “Now” chapters should be in the same timeline. But I found that after reading a “Now” chapter and moved to a “Then” chapter, the protagonist would be in another situation and my mind would totally forget about what happened in the earlier chapters. I felt that Horner danced around the plot too much and never stayed focused on one thing at a time.

The ending was the only redeeming quality of this book. It was nicely done and I enjoyed the last 40 pages of the novel. Overall, A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend was an okay book, unfortunately, nothing in particular stood out. I have nothing against the author, it just wasn’t my type of book.

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