The Sweet Dead Life (Sweet Dead Life, #1)

First Lines: I found out two things today: One, I think I’m dying.  And two, my brother is a perv.

As far as first lines go, I really like this one.  Alright, so prior to like, a week ago, I had never heard of this book.  Soho Teen, the publishing company, asked me to review the sequel to this (which I will do on May 23).  Only when I agreed to the sequel, I didn’t realize it was a sequel… So I quickly checked out this book so I could be caught up on the series in time for my scheduled review.

Jenna Samuels, 14 years old and in a total identity crisis, is not having a great 8th grade year.  Her dad has been missing for 5 years and her mom refuses to get out of bed anymore.  Her older brother Casey tries to take care of the family, but that’s difficult when he’s so often stoned.  What’s worse is that Jenna is really sick.  After she collapses one day, Casey races Jenna to the hospital and crashes instead.  When Jenna wakes up in the hospital, Casey is standing next to her looking not like himself.  Zits? Gone. Flabby stomach? Try “six pack abs” now.  Casey is an “A-word” now, an angel whose job is to protect Jenna.  Because the truth is Jenna isn’t just sick, she’s being poisoned.  It’s up to Jenna and Casey to find out exactly who is poisoning her and why, which may unlock the secrets of their dad’s disappearance and their mother’s depression…

That was kind of a mouthful, right?  There’s a lot of story packed into about 240 pages.

So here’s what I liked.  I liked the dark humor the story played up.  It was kind of gallows humor at times, which I’m oddly drawn to, probably because I’m that person who will make terrible jokes at any moment just to break the tension.  I would be that person making jokes on the gallows…

Anyway.  I enjoyed the dark humor because it was sarcastic and sassy while still being horribly honest.  Jenna exaggerates all the time early in the story about how she’s dying and all, but then she finds out she really is.  And there’s something just ironic and funny enough in that that I enjoyed it.

Jenna’s a little younger than most characters I read about.  At 14, she’s still in middle school.  I can’t even remember the last time I read a book where the main character was that young.  I’m drawing a blank.  So I was a little nervous about that, but Jenna really doesn’t act like a 14 year old very often, and there’s always Casey around to bring the older-teenager experience to the story.  (He’s 16.)

This story ended up being pretty cute.  The premise was interesting and had me finishing the book in less than 24 hours.  There’s something of a mystery to the story, but it’s not as difficult to solve as I had hoped.  Still, it wasn’t bad.  Besides, I was there more for the angel aspect of the story more than anything.  It doesn’t play out like a lot of angel stories.

One thing that I didn’t like so much was that the story wasn’t always exciting.  For such a short book, it didn’t have much of a place for slow parts.  The beginning was really exciting and so was the ending, but the middle sometimes leveled off.  There was still plenty going on, but it was slower paced and I reached conclusions far faster than Jenna and Casey did.  Still, I was interested in how the story would go.

Overall, I thought it was an interesting addition to the angel genre and worth the look if you enjoy dark humor and young sassy heroines.

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