Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

(Photo Credit)
You've already heard of this book if you've been following some of my other posts, but now I'm writing my review for it!

I've had my eye on this book ever since I heard about due to the YAGB Tour, but I never actually sat down to read it. Oh how I wish I had read it sooner. I haven't gotten my hands on the sequel yet, but I'm excited to read it.

This month, Susan is hosting a SSaD book club, so if you'd like to join in, you can check it out here.

But anyway! Here's the synopsis of the book:
The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

I'm going to start off by saying that I was not expecting to love this book as much as I do. It's probably something I'd pick up to read, but not one I'd like so much.

All of the characters are extremely complex and thought out. They all have complicated (in a good way) backgrounds that leave you wanting to know more. And although the situation is a little less than real, unless you've seen the Dead walking around, the characters feel so tangible and real. You actively cheer them on, you cry with them, you feel their frustrations, and you maybe even hate them. 

The plot is also riveting and exciting. While there are some slower parts, that's only to be expected, and it gives you a slight break from all the movement. Even if you're not a fan of historical fiction or of zombie books or whatever, this book is so much more than just that. It's also about relationships and society and how we're led to make decisions we would never want to.

Another aspect that I loved was that I found the book to be less descriptive and more character and plot driven. I'm the type of reader that hates to be bogged down by description unless it's really important. Susan Dennard does a fantastic job of describing the important things so that you get a sense of the setting without it being overwhelming. I found that many parts also had more telling than showing. Perhaps you don't view this as a good thing (although there's plenty of showing as well, don't worry), but as someone that struggles with the concept of "show not tell," I really enjoyed the bluntness of some of the statements and facts. It didn't take away from the story, and it didn't leave you hung over on what it means so that it would slow you down.

I literally only have two criticisms, and they're both pretty small in the grand scheme of things. Firstly, if you didn't know beforehand, it'd be very hard to figure out exact which time period the book is set in. You can tell that it's in the Victorian era by how society is in the book, but it's hard to get an exact date, unless you know about the history of Philadelphia, I suppose. And my other minor criticism is that one of the plot twists (I guess you could call it that) was extremely easy to predict. It made it less of a big deal because you're already expecting it, but the other plot twist was one I didn't see coming (there was some foreshadowing beforehand but). 

This is a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it.

Rating: 4.6/5
You can find Something Strange and Deadly on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository, and IndieBound.

You can find Susan Dennard on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.
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