Where A-Words Fear To Tread: The Sweet Dead Life Review & Giveaway

A Review of The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble & a GIVEAWAY

SOHO Teen, 2013

The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble

by REBECCA, May 6, 2013

“I found out two things today: One, I think I’m dying. And two, my brother is a perv” (1). 14-year-old Jenna Samuels’ father left years ago, leaving nothing behind but a note and a gift certificate for a Mexican restaurant, she has been stricken by a mysterious illness, and her mother has turned into a zombie—no, not that kind of zombie. The kind that sleeps all day, has no appetite, and can’t even remember what day it is much less go to work in the morning. Her stoner brother, Casey, had to quit football and get two jobs when their mom started going zombie, and because his stoner friend messed up their car, Casey crashes the car when he drives her to the hospital and dies. Kind of. Because now he’s Jenna’s guardian A-word (she can’t bring herself to say angel), and they have to get to the bottom of all of it.

The Sweet Dead Life is the second Soho Teen book I’ve reviewed in a row, and it couldn’t be more different than Strangeletswhich I reviewed last week. Soho publishes mainly mysteries, so Soho Teen is putting out YA mysteries, and it’s really nice to see that they’re publishing a variety of types. I’ve been really excited lately at the surge of new YA imprints, so I’ve been excited to see what Soho Teen would do. In short, The Sweet Dead Life was a totally charming and fun read. Is the mystery mysterious and hard to solve? No. But it doesn’t really matter. Jenna’s voice is the real joy of The Sweet Dead Life. Plus, did I mention it’s set in Texas?

Joy Preble‘s writing is really funny and well-structured. Everything is wrapped up in a neat bow, but that’s part of the genre here, I think:  it’s equal parts absurdism, mystery, and good old-fashioned coming of age story. The Sweet Dead Life is written as Jenna’s diary entries, so it’s all in c62f2715cae38867_Pulp-Fiction-Uma-Thurmanher voice, which is really funny and feels very spot-on for an insightful 14 year old. The first few chapters are snappy and fun, and the tone of the whole thing is great. There are moments that drag, mostly because the reader has already figured out the mystery, but overall it’s well-paced and Jenna is super-likable. Best of all, as far as I’m concerned: it’s a book about angels that’s a comedy instead of a romance, a change that the subgenre needed like Mia Wallace needed a shot of adrenaline to the heart in Pulp Fiction. Cheers.

procured from: I received an ARC from the publisher at BEA. The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble will be available on May 13th.


But you can win a copy right now! Just fill in your info in the form below and, if you like. I’ll select a winner at random in one week and post the result here. Happy reading! 

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Marie, who has won the copy of Joy Preble’s The Sweet Dead Life. Thanks you everyone who entered!

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