Pop quiz: What would you do if you had to solve your own murder to get anywhere in death?Maybe if I hadn’t slept through my alarm, slammed into Kristin–my high school’s reigning mean girl–or stepped in a puddle, destroying my mom’s new suede DVF boots (which I borrowed without asking), I wouldn’t have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I wouldn’t have been pushed in front of that arriving train. But I did, and I was.
When I came to, I was informed by a group of girls that I’m dead. And that because I died under mysterious circumstances, I can’t pass straight over to the Other Side. But at least I’m not alone. Meet the Dead Girls Detective Agency: Nancy, Lorna, and Tess–not to mention Edison, the really cute if slightly hostile dead boy. Apparently, the only way out of this limbo is to figure out who killed me, or I’ll have to spend eternity playing Nancy Drew. Considering I was fairly invisible in life, who could hate me enough to want me dead? And what if my murderer is someone I never would have suspected?
Oh, this book. It had everything I usually enjoy, paranormal happenings, female friendships, female narrator, but this one annoyed me more than anything. I gave it three stars instead of two because it’s quick and sometimes fun, and I realize a lot of younger readers probably won’t have the issues with it that I had. The Dead Girls Detective Agency follows (and I literally could not remember her name for a few minutes) Charlotte Feldman, a snobby, bratty, judgmental sixteen-year-old from the Upper West Side. She’s pushed in front of the F train after school one day, waking up in a hotel as a ghost. In order to pass to the Other Side, Charlotte must solve her own murder with the help of the other dead girls, Nancy, Lorna, and, sometimes, Tess. And there is Edison too, of course. None of these characters are very fleshed out, which is fine, and this is a somewhat forgettable book.
Starting with the good, I liked Nancy and even Lorna, despite the latter being an airheaded fashion queen trope. I liked Edison too, because he was different and made Charlotte a little less insufferable. I even liked David, Charlotte’s boyfriend, because he reminded me of a lot of semi-douchey guys I was friends with in high school. I have a soft spot for semi-douchey guys, okay? Charlotte spends much of the book mooning over David, then getting mad and calling him a cheater when he kisses a cheerleader. Yes, I agree it’s douchey to kiss another girl* at your dead girlfriend’s funeral, but you can’t cheat on a dead person. I didn’t hate David like I think Cox wanted me to. I felt sorry for him, and disliked Charlotte instead. There’s also a little bit of slut-shaming going on, and I really don’t enjoy the word “whore” in my YA. I realize I am not in the majority here, but that just did not help my liking of the book. (*and of course this other girl, Kristen, is of the blonde-haired, cheerleader, Mean Girl variety, with Cox even going to far as to call two of Kristen’s minons “Blonde 4″ and “Blonde 5.” I am tired of this trope.)
Another thing that bothered me, and really took me out of the story, were all the Britishisms. Cox is editor of Cosmopolitan UK, and I have to wonder who edited her novel for American audiences. The book takes place in New York, with presumably native New Yorkers, but they speak like they’re in London. “Muso chick” is not a phrase often heard in the US, and I had to Google it to find out it means “girl who’s into music.” Other things like saying “I’ve not seen that” stuck out to me too, because here we tend to use a different contraction and say, “I haven’t seen that.” Also, “air-con.” Another phrase I’ve never heard, as we tend to call air-conditioning “AC.” These are little nitpicks though, really, and at least no one was calling any elevators “lifts.” There’s also a silly part where Charlotte manages to have seen Heathers, a movie that came out in 1988, and references Freddy Krueger, whose first movie aired in 1984 (though I suppose she could have seen the 2010 remake), and then manages to not know Ghostbusters. What? I found that sloppy, to be honest.
The ending of this one was just silly too. The wrap-up of both the mystery and Tess’ storyline made me roll my eyes. It was just too far-fetched for me to suspend my disbelief, and I’m a girl who likes Farscape. Take that as you will. So, as you can see, I had more problems with this one than anything else. It’s pretty standard YA fiction, with a blonde mean girl, a ditzy fashion queen, a jerk for a narrator, and a flimsy love story. You guys should know by now that I don’t really like books that focus more on boys and romance than the actual paranormal element, and that’s what this one does. I think maybe my co-bloggers would have enjoyed it more than me, but hey, I don’t regret reading it! It had its cute moments, and one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.