Book Review: Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones
I tapped the page with my fingertips. “And this is the page Mr. Davis was looking at. I remember. he’d circled a face with a -“
“Lorelei,” Brooklyn interrupted in a hushed whisper. Her finger slipped up to one of the photos bordering the main picture. In it, a crowd of students stood around the flagpole of the old high school. They were laughing as though in disbelief, and I realized it was a shot of Mr. Davis’s brother. In what must have been some kind of prank, he and some friends had chained themselves to the pole and were holding a sign I couldn’t quite make out.
But they were laughing too. Every student in the photo was laughing, except one. A boy. He was standing closer to the camera yet apart from the rest, his stance guarded, his expression void, and then I saw the unmistakable face of our newest student.
I felt the world tip beneath me, my head spin as I stared unblinking.
“It can’t be him,” she said.
But there was no mistaking the wide shoulders, the solid build, the dark glint in Jared’s eyes.
“It can’t be him,” she repeated.
He had the same mussed hair, the same T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, the same arms, long and sculpted like swimmer’s The only difference I could see in this picture was the tattoo. Two, actually. Wide bands of what looked like a row of ancient symbols encircled each of his biceps.
“It just can’t be, right, Lorelei?”
He was just as breathtaking just as surreal. And somehow, it made perfect sense. I swallowed hard and asked, “What if it is him?”
“Lor,” Glitch said, shaking his head, “that’s impossible.”
“Maybe it’s his father, or even his grandfather.” Brooklyn glanced up. “Lots of kids look like their grandparents.”
“Think about it,” I said. “Think about all the things he can do.” I studied the photo again. The caption below it read, Taken the day we lost our beloved brother and friend.
“Wheat if it is him and hew as there the day Mr. Davis’s brother died.” I thought back to what Cameron’s father had said. “Cameron called him the reaper. Maybe he really is.”
“Is what?” Brooklyn asked, pulling away from me.
In hesitation, I pursed my lips. Then I said it, what we were all thinking. “What if he really is the grim reaper?”
Ten years ago, Lorelei’s parents disappeared without a trace, and she can’t remember anything about that day. She’s got her grandparents, her friend Brooklyn and Glitch, and starting sophomore year of high school, so things should be OK, right? Not when the school’s loner, Cameron, decides to start stalking her, and the new boy in school, Jared, seems to be instantly attracted to her of all people. When Jared changes the course of Lorelei’s fate, and with it his own, things start spiraling out of control fast. Can Cameron and Jared keep from killing each other long enough to protect Lorelei from an even bigger threat? And why is Lorelei the focus of it all?
Darynda Jones, bestselling author of the Charley Davidson series (First Grave on the Right, etc.) keeps to her paranormal roots in Death and the Girl Next Door. Sixteen year old Lorelei has visions that she can’t control and keeps hidden from everyone- they aren’t all hearts and puppies, and the less strange she seems the better life is. After all, she already lost her parents when she was 6, and that’s enough for anyone. All she wants is for high school to be semi-normal, and things to be OK. However, when super-tall Cameron starts stalking her day and night, and the unbelievably gorgeous Jared shows up at school interested in her, things start loosing their normalcy And when Jared saves Lorelei’s life, he changes not only her destiny but his. Can Lorelei and her friends (both old and new) figure out who’s trying to kill her before it comes to pass? Definitely alive with humor and wit, and readers of Jones’ adult series will recognize Lorelei’s banter and outlook. Sets up nicely for the next book, and keeps readers interested, although the instant attraction of Lorelei and Jared can turn some readers off. I’d pair it with books like the Hush, Hush series or Kim Harrison’s Madison Avery series (Once Dead, Twice Shy). 3.25 out of 5 stars. As of March 22, Goodreads has Death and the Girl Next Door rated as 3.64 stars.
I really enjoyed this book, but I can see how some readers would be turned off within the first 50 pages (which is my threshold for staying with a book I’m not enjoying). Lorelei has definitely just turned sixteen, and her rambling viewpoint and conversations with Brooklyn fit right in with my sense of humor, but could be irritating to others (just as to me it’s irritating that the 9th Doctor gets no love what-so-ever, BTW).
The instant attraction with Jared is something that is completely in character with a sixteen-year-old girl (hello, new hot boy in a small town), and unlike some other series that shall not be named *cough* sparkly vampires *cough* there is an actual relationship that seems to build. Jared learns that his actions have consequences that he didn’t think of, and learning to deal with the mortal realm takes time as well, while Lorelei is definitely standing up for herself, while trying to discover why she’s at the focal point of everything. Learning that Cameron is not entirely human only adds to the mix, and the surprises that her grandparents and others int he community have in store build up the importance of what Lorelei is, and the conflict that is coming. It sets up the next book and the series quite nicely.
I’m definitely interested to see where Jones is taking Lorelei and her crew.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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