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Jana Webster and Michael Haynes were in love. They were destined to be together forever.
But Jana's destiny was fatally flawed. And now she's in Dead School, where Mars Dreamcote lurks in the back of the classroom, with his beguiling blue eyes, mysterious ...
Jana Webster and Michael Haynes were in love. They were destined to be together forever.
But Jana's destiny was fatally flawed. And now she's in Dead School, where Mars Dreamcote lurks in the back of the classroom, with his beguiling blue eyes, mysterious smile, and irresistibly warm touch.
Michael and Jana were incomplete without each other. There was no room for Mars in Jana's life—or death—story. Jana was sure Michael would rush to her side soon.
But things aren't going according to Jana's plan. So Jana decides to do whatever it takes to make her dreams come true—no matter what rules she has to break.
Not your usual paranormal romance.
Romeo and Juliet meets Daniel Waters in folklorist Russell's wry teen debut. After a deadly freak bowling accident on a double date, high-school junior Jana Webster (of Webster and Haynes, regional champions in Duet Acting, as she's quick to mention) finds herself in Dead School, right in her hometown of Asheville, N.C. As in real high school, rules and cliques govern Dead School. Jana, a Riser (with a promising placement after graduation), is supposed to avoid Sliders (whose fates are on a downward spiral). Since Sliders still have an attachment to Earth, she asks Slider Mars to help her communicate with her boyfriend and love of her life, Michael Haynes. While Jana plots to kill Michael so they can be together forever, Mars believes Dead School is a chance to learn how to change their destinies. The pacing intensifies as Jana discovers the truth about her death, and the real star-crossed lovers emerge. Sarcastic quips and double entendres drive the story's humor, but it's the sensitivity of the supporting characters (like Beatrice, who after inviting her crush to her church picnic and sneaking off to the woods with him so he can feel her up, dies when a stray lawn dart strikes her head) that allows Jana (and readers) to see laughter within tragedy.
Wickedly clever. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)
Posted June 12, 2011
Dead Rules makes me thing beetlejuice crossed with high school drama. The idea is truly unique and inventive which readers will appreciate. The pace is a fairly slow one that will create a slight reading challenge. Although, as the story progressive the intrigue and suspense will press readers through the remaining story. Overall it is an enjoyable read, but lacking as an unforgettable experience.
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Posted February 21, 2012
Posted June 6, 2011
This is a very interesting approach to being dead. I really enjoyed this book, with it's dark touch and I appreciated the humor that was put in everywhere.
The characters are interesting and I enjoyed reading about their deaths, which were mostly a little wild and out there, but added to the story perfectly. It was odd how your death became the pennacle of who you are and that is the first and most important thing people want to know about you--whether or not it attests to how the rest of your life was. Who you were and what you did all boils down to your death. It was also interesting how it seemed your status after your death was solely judged on your death, not on how you live. Some of the sliders to me seemed to have a better heart and be more worthy of being a riser than some of the risers.
The switches in perspectives are pulled off really well, and it gives a more in depth peek into some of the secondary characters.
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Posted November 3, 2014
Jana and Michael were destined to be together. They were Romeo and Juliet, the peanut butter and jelly, the Brad and Angelina: they were inseparable, until one day a tragic accident occurred. Jana was sent to Dead School, the place where all dead teenagers migrate to. Embarrassingly, Jana was wearing the same bowling shoes she was at the time of her death. Everyone that attended Dead School was wearing the same outfits that they died with, such as prom dresses and ripped up jeans. Unknown to Jana, Dead School had many rules, such as no leaving the campus. Also, cell phone reception was nonexistent, which sends Jana in a tizzy as she tried to contact Michael. The only way to see or talk to him again was to kill him, and they would be together forever, or so she thought.
Mars, the blue-eyed, mysterious boy in the back of the bus, quietly dropped hints to reveal the true events that happened at the time at Jana’s death. Over time, Mars and Jana grew with an unspoken bond. Was Michael really who she thought he was? Read this extraordinary novel by Randy Russell and find out.
Posted April 11, 2014
Posted March 29, 2014
Posted July 16, 2013
Posted May 4, 2013
Posted April 29, 2013
This novel follows the (after)life of Jana Webster. After dying in a freak bowling accident, she wakes up on a school bus surrounded by people she doesn't know on her way to a Dead School feeling alone and out of place. The teachers are boring and nothing makes sense. Sliders, Grays, Risers, what did it all mean? How is she supposed to do this without Michael by her side? They do everything together and he must be going mad with grief now that she is dead. Desperate to communicate with him by any means necessary, she joins forces with the school's number one baddie, a Slider named Mars Dreamcote. After attending her funeral and seeing Michael getting nearly molested by her "grieving" mother, she makes a radical decision. Why should they be forced to suffer through a lifetime without each other? The easy answer is that shouldn't, so she devises a plan to kill Michael so they can be together forever. Before she can achieve that, she knows she must become a Slider. She is a Riser, which appropriately means she is on her way up after Dead School, whereas Slider's fates are less fun. But while at Dead School, Sliders are more connected to the Earth so when visiting they can, if they choose to, be seen or heard by people and touch things whereas Risers are mere spirits unable to interact with anything while on Earth. Jana acts out in every conceivable way she can think of, doing everything from sneaking off school grounds at night to dancing topless at the school's dance in order to be demoted to a Slider. The entire time she is trying to achieve this, Mars is trying to convince her that her memories from her last night are Earth are a bit biased and that maybe her death wasn't an accident.
Initially I was rather annoyed with this novel. Jana was one of those super annoying girls who doesn't seem to have a life at all away from her boyfriend. They are so intertwined that she always introduces herself as Jana Webster of Webster and Haynes (as in Jana Webster and Michael Haynes). I understand being a little too dependent on your significant other and feeling more than a little lost without them, but not being able to thrive at all is a little absurd. Deciding that you are so lost without them and that they must be just as lost without you so the best course of action is to kill them so you can be together is totally ludicrous. When she decides that this is the only suitable conclusion she can come to, I was shocked and very angry.
Really Jana? The only freaking solution is to murder him?!?!? What's worse is she seriously believes this down to her core. With things heating up a little with the dreamy Mars who is constantly trying to tell her that her life wasn't all that it appeared to be, I couldn't believe she was still so dead set on murdering him. What kept me reading when I could barely tolerate her was learning about this completely unique world. Everything is so different and there are so many rules that are only vaguely referenced by her roommate. The only thing that is clear is that she shouldn't be hanging around Mars and his friend Wyatt. But Mars seems to be the only person who actually thinks instead of blindly follow what he is told and he is the only one who can help her.
I loved that although this novel mainly follows Jana, you get to see a bit from other people's perspectives, like Mars and Michael. Once again, I was totally in love with the main guy, Mars Dreamcote. Hot, funny, thinks for himself, secretly a good guy, the coolest name ever, the whole enchilada just had me wondering why Jana was chasing Michael instead of opening her eyes to gorgeous creation that is Mars. She shows some attraction to him, but never wavers from her devotion to Michael. When she finally does get demoted to a Slider, everything changes.
This novel has a great ending. Although Jana's narration is annoying, she gets better about halfway through the novel and once that happened, I couldn't put it down. One of my biggest annoyance is Jana though is her use of the phrase "fart fudge popcorn" in lieu of cursing. Every single time she said it, I wanted to chunk the novel across the room and never pick it back up. I understand that some people don't curse (though I don't necessarily understand why...), but at least use something that doesn't sound so ridiculous! I'll take Zooey's from Marked by PC Cast constant use of "bull poopie" over that. The other reason it bugged with is the fact that she is dead and she wants to be demoted so why not go the extra mile and start blurting out profanities like crazy? Even though she soon learns that it takes something major to get you demoted (not even dancing topless at a school function came close to having an effect), you should still do all you can to achieve the goal and I am sure that wouldn't hurt!
Posted November 4, 2012
Posted July 17, 2011
The Short Version:
Fresh in concept and witty overall, Dead Rules definitely puts a unique spin on life after death. Though the characters came off as flat many times, and there was an overall lack of voice for this reader, it's a well put together mix of mystery and a new existence. With some very interesting elements mixed in, and classifications that are easy to understand and get behind, Russell's debut shows promise.
The Extended Version:
Jana is admittedly annoying a little too much, too focused on and obsessed with the idea of her perfect relationship with her boyfriend, but she also has a strong internal drive that overrides this often. Though blind in some ways to things, but very willing to experience and take in others, Jana has many aspects about her that will resonate with readers. Her frustration and determination come through in a strong way, and the development she goes through will leave a lasting impression on readers.
Mars is well done overall, and though a little more depth to him would have made him a highly memorable character, he still stands to be remembered in a positive manner. Tormented in all the right ways, with a solid motivation behind his actions, Mars definitely puts the sexy and enticing into ghosts. Able to strengthen Jana as well, Mars is easily one of the best aspects of this book.
The remainder of the characters fall into various categories, be it the looks into the lives of those Jana has left behind, and other ghosts that she now encounters. The various stories of how people died are intriguing and original, though beyond this look, many of the characters were admittedly flat and not as well fleshed out as they could have been.
The concept of this one is very interesting, although the first chunk of the book comes off as a little too question then answer, telling more than showing in terms of the world Jana now finds herself in along with its confines and restraints. Though there are certain aspects of this world to be explored, the actual reveal of many of them wasn't as gripping as it could have been. Though the murder mystery aspect was not strong enough to carry the book, and was washed out by everything else, it was well put together, unique in presentation, and well motivated overall.
While there was a lack of voice given the genre, Russell's writing is solid and interesting. Despite being written in third person, Russell does a remarkable job of avoiding mind jumping while letting the reader get fully into Jana's head, and giving looks at other characters in sections all their own as needed. The alternations and transitions are smooth and easy to follow, building on the overall plot at a steady rate. This, mixed with the very fresh concept, lends Dead Rules to be a promising debut that is quick but enjoyable to read.
Posted July 1, 2011
Dead Rules by Randy Russell is the most unexpected 5 star book I have read this summer! Not only is the cover to die for, but the witty and original story is so hard to put down that I almost considered pulling over during rush hour to finish the last few chapters.
In Dead Rules Jana Webster finds out that when you die instead of a fancy afterlife you go to a place called Dead School. Everyone in Dead School is exactly as they were the moment they died and they go to Dead School to learn about themselves. As if life wasn't hard enough now you spend your afterlife in school. Kids in Dead School are separated into groups the Sliders, who did something wrong when they died and the Risers, who were not at fault when they died. There are also the Virgins who are almost angel like and the Shades, who committed suicide. Jana arrives at Dead School as a Riser and it takes her a bit to adjust to Dead School and she's also certain that once her boyfriend realizes they can still be together he will soon join her. Wouldn't your high school boyfriend want to die to spend eternity with you?
Jana decides not to wait for her boyfriend Michael to die and decides that she has to kill him so he can be with her. Only Jana can't manifest, into a ghost, as a Riser and begins her path to becoming a Slider. This is both funny and dangerous. Her Riser friends try to talk her out of it, but she is determined, and with the help of some Sliders she might just pull it off. Only no plan ever goes off without a hitch, while Jana is dead set that Michael is her soul mate she misses out on Mars the tremendously hot Slider right in front of her. He is hot, hot, and hot. Ok I know I said hot three times, but you really need to read this book and see why for yourself.
Nothing I say will justify just how wonderful, fresh, funny, and downright fantastic this book is so run out and get a copy. Dead Rules doesn't have a cliffhanger ending, but I felt like there might be a window for either a second book or a companion, if so I would love that! Dead Rules is Randy Russell's debut YA novel and out now.
This book was pitched to me as a cross between Romeo and Juliet and Heathers. That was certainly enough for me, and I'm guessing it's going to be enough for a lot of you as well. If it's not, or if you're unfamiliar with the genius that is Heathers (or you're talking to a group of teens who've yet to see it), don't worry. Dead Rules is great, and familiarity with neither Heathers nor Romeo and Juliet is necessary in order to understand this book.
Jana is absolutely heartbroken to be away from Michael in the afterlife. She is one of those girls who does not exist outside of her relationship. She even introduces herself as Jana, of Webster and Haynes (as in Jana Webster and Michael Haynes). I have to admit that I kind of hate those girls. In the beginning of this book, Jana was no exception. Luckily she pairs up with Mars Dreamcote (yes, it conveniently rhymes with dreamboat) pretty quickly. I don't know that I would have been able to stick it out through a whole book of her otherwise, and that would have been a shame. This book is more than just Jana and her longing for Michael. It's also about Jana's adjustment to the afterlife, Mars's lack of adjustment, Arva, Beatrice, Christie, Wyatt(!), the grays, and the virgins.
The social hierarchy of Dead School, like that of any high school, is complicated to outsiders, and I liked watching Jana figure out how to navigate and then ignore it. The sliders vs. risers was something that I wished was explained a little bit more, but it's clear that Jana (and we) find out everything that the students know about why most people end up in one of these two groups. Any more information would have made this a completely different book as it would have required more sleuthing and less Michael's-death planning. Getting all her information from other students definitely enhanced the story. As Jana gets to know her roommates, Mars's slider buddies, and other folks around campus, she also gets to hear their death stories, and I LOVED reading everyone's death stories. They very nicely ranged from the ridiculous to the very, very serious/tragic.
Overall, Dead Rules is a fun read! It's less romance-y than your average paranormal romance. In fact, it kind of pokes holes in the idea of blind devotion and teenage lurv that lasts for all eternity. That and the dark humor made it a great fit for me, and I think other readers who roll their eyes at flowery proclamations and super-serious feeelins will love it too. Those looking for the story of a love that continues beyond the grave may not.
Book source: ARC provided by the publisher.
Posted December 19, 2011
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Posted July 17, 2011
No text was provided for this review.