Sunday, July 14, 2019

Dead Set by Richard Kadrey

I needed to read a Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel for my book group on Tuesday, and what is usually a super easy pick for me turned out to be not so easy! I tried a couple of different novels before I picked this up at my library on Friday. It turned out to be a pretty darn good read, and my introduction to author Richard Kadrey. 

Kadrey writes the Sandman Slim series, which are urban fantasy and very popular. I've looked at that series many times over the past few years, but never actually picked one up. Now I'm more inclined to do so, after reading Dead Set. It is not part of the Sandman Slim series, and is a stand alone fantasy novel--something that's getting harder and harder to find. If you're a reader of Sci-Fi/Fantasy, you know that the majority of writers craft a trilogy or a series instead of single novels, and that can be frustrating. Sometimes you just want to read a story that ends with the last page, and leaves you satisfied with the conclusion. I'm bad about series, anyway. I usually read about half the series before I lose interest. I'm not opposed to series; I've been sucked into a few and entranced by the plot and the characters so much that I'm glad there are more novels. But, I do get a bit restless and always feel that eventually, the series jumps the shark and isn't quite as good as it was in the beginning.

Back to Dead Set. It was a quick read, and definitely one you can zip through in a day or two. I stayed up late last night and got up early this morning to finish it. I couldn't wait to see what happened. Zoe is a teenager, in a new crummy apartment with her mother in San Francisco. Her father died suddenly, and until the insurance money comes in, they are really broke. Her mother is searching for a job, but she's been out of the workforce for years and is just not having any luck. Depressed, grieving, and angry, Zoe starts at a new high school. Bored with her teachers and her classes, she skips school one day and finds a really weird record shop. She's in familiar territory, since her father used to work with punk rock bands and famous rockers, and her mother used to design the artwork for album covers. 

This is, of course, not a usual record shop. And Emmett, the creepy dude who runs it, is a little outside of normal. Dusty, musty, and crammed with hundreds of albums, Zoe wanders around, until she sees another room and just has to look. Inside are more albums, but they're very different. These albums contain the lives and souls of people. 

Oh, and Emmett gleefully shares with Zoe the news that he has her father's album there, and she can listen to it-for a price. 

Zoe's a pretty smart kid, and a tough one, too. But she's a kid missing her Dad, and of course she's going to pay whatever price is required so she can see her Dad one more time. 

And from there, the story takes off! Zoe's recurring dreams of her friend Valentine, the treehouse they occupy, the scary black dogs roaming around, and the beautiful woman she sees in quick glimpses are all part of the adventure Zoe is about to take. Egyptian mythology marries with a startling look at what happens when we die. Modern concepts of what lies beyond are always fascinating, and this novel explores that--with a twist, of course. Zoe has to keep all her wits about her in order to survive and return home; but her grief and sense of duty may doom her. 

I'm so glad I spotted this book at the library and took a chance. It was a great introduction to a new author (new for me), and it was just the kind of fantasy novel I was looking for the past week. It is suitable for young adults, too. Some folks think it's firmly a YA novel, but I think it's an adult novel that YA would enjoy, too. 

Rating: 4/6 for a novel with big themes: death, the other side, grief, coping, love, loyalty, and oh heck yes-being stronger than you ever though you could be. A quick read the ramps up in action that will have you biting your nails and rooting Zoe on to victory. And ICK! SNAKES. 

Available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio. 

1 comment :

  1. It's interesting that you feel it's an adult book that is suited for YA. The general consensus is that it is very distinctly YA and a lot of his fans were a bit disappointed by that.