Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review: Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade

After being sent back from the light, Alona Dare - former homecoming queen, current Queen of the Dead - finds herself doing something she never expected: working. Instead of spending days perfecting her tan by the pool (her typical summer routine when she was, you know, alive), Alona must now cater to the needs of other lost spirits. By her side for all of this - ugh - "helping of others" is Will Killian: social outcast, seer of the dead, and someone Alona cares about more than she'd like.

Before Alona can make a final ruling on Will's "friend" or "more" status, though, she discovers trouble at home. Her mom is tossing out Alona's most valuable possessions, and her dad is expecting a new daughter with his wicked wife. Is it possible her family is already moving on? Hello! She's only been dead for two months! Thankfully, Alona knows just the guy who can put a stop to this mess.

Unfortunately for Alona, Will has other stuff on his mind, and Mina, a young (and beautiful) seer, is at the top of the list. She's the first ghost-talker Will's ever met-aside from his father-and she may hold answers to Will's troubled past. But can she be trusted? Alona immediately puts a check mark in the "clearly not" column. But Will is - ahem - willing to find out, even if it means leaving a hurt and angry Alona to her own devices, which is never a good idea.

Packed with romance, lovable characters, and a killer cliffhanger, Queen of the Dead is the out-of-this-world sequel to The Ghost and the Goth.

Will Killian and Alona Dare have a complicated relationship. He's alive and she's dead; she helps him manage all the other dead folks who want his help; and they're heading down a tricky road with their are we or aren't we romance. Alona has been dead for two months but hasn't changed much since then - she's still selfish and self-centered - and now things are taking a turn for the worse: her family is moving on without her and Will is starting to have doubts about her and their "purpose". When Will meets Mina, a girl who can also see (and catch) ghosts like Alona, things get even more complicated. Which will Will choose, to work for the living or the dead and will Alona still be there to help him?

Queen of the Dead is just as good (and maybe better) than The Ghost and the Goth. Kade's style and tone is pitch perfect for this YA treat of a book. There are some heavy topics addressed in QofD like mortality and morality; Will tries to figure out who is doing the right thing: is it their (his and Alona's) mission to help other ghosts resolve their issues so they can move on to who knows what or is it Mina's Order, a group of fanatical ghost-talkers who work to protect humans using methods that "kill" ghosts in ways that make him shudder when he considers what they would do to Alona. Will also learns about his father's past and abilities, something he has been desperate to know. However, Alona gets into some serious (and rather heinous) trouble on her part, leaving Will to reconcile what she's done and how he feels about her. I appreciated that there was some emotional growth for Alona here; being the center of her universe and demanding that everyone conform to her opinions and ideas was a bit trying. Even if you take into account the fact that she's really only a teenager who is a product of her environment, her attitude and outlook was pretty obnoxious. With Will on the other end of that personality spectrum, he and Alona balance each other very well and I can't wait to see what happens next. And even though it was 2 am and I couldn't for fear of waking the whole house, Queen of the Dead finished with an ending that made me want to jump up and yell "All right!"

Queen of the Dead will be released on May 31, 2011.

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