Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Review: Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

Title: Deadly Cool
Author: Gemma Halliday
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date:
Oct 11, 2011

Cover Impressions: The cover is pretty cool (pun intended).  The eye color is stunning and commands attention and the frozen gaze is reminiscent of a dead body.  The use of the earbuds/murder weapon to form the font was a really clever choice. 

The Gist:
In the midst of planning the confrontation and subsequent "murder" of her cheating boyfriend, Hartley Featherstone inadvertently stumbles upon a real dead body.  Determined to prove her (ex) boyfriend's innocence, she enlists the help of her BFF and the local bad boy/editor of the school newspaper, Chase. 

Deadly Cool is a fun read.  Harley Featherstone performs as a modern day Nancy Drew, attempting to solve a murder mystery and prove the innocence of her (ex) boyfriend.  Harley is a great character, she is clever and witty with some truly fabulous lines: "'You're wicked fast.' he observed.  'Yeah.  Dead bodies bring out the track star in me'".  I did question a number of her decisions (like agreeing to help her cheating ass ex-boyfriend in the first place) and I felt that she needed a Sassy Gay Friend Intervention.

She constantly opens her mouth when she shouldn't, sneaks out of her house and puts herself into dangerous situations without a thought for her own safety.  I found myself cringing, yelling "NO, YOU IDIOT" and imagining all of the security measures I would put on my house if she was my daughter!

That being said, Hartley does have a best friend (though not a sassy gay one) and she is awesome!  I knew I loved Sam the minute I read this exchange when Hartley asked her to borrow her brother's car:

"'Because if I find Courtney Cline at Josh's and kill them both, I'm going to need a quick getaway.'  Sam bit her lip, her eyebrows doing a concerned pucker on my behalf.  But, good friend that she was, she finally said, 'Okay, but we need to think of a convincing alibi on the way.'"

Sam is the ultimate partner in crime.  Willing to help Hartley with whatever crazy and dangerous investigative technique she has decided to try out next and bringing along her own clever quips to boot.  The other characters didn't pop as much for me.  Chase didn't show a whole lot of personality and the others (Josh, Goths, Cheerleaders, Color Guard) were all pretty stereotypical of their roles and didn't really hold any surprises.

The murder mystery plot involved some interesting twists and turns as Hartley conducted interviews, discovered clues and attended clandestine meetings with mysterious sources.  The storyline moved quickly and didn't suffer from lag, though it did lose points at the end.  I found the ultimate identity of the killer to be a little TOO convenient (I was hoping for a big plot twist) and did not enjoy the cliche "now that I have you tied up I will explain my plan and my every movement and then leave you to die so that you have lots of evidence when you eventually escape virtually unscathed". 

Had there been an unexpected twist at the end, this book would easily have earned a 4 rating.  As it is, it sits at a 3 for me because it had a few fun characters, some great lines and was a fun, easy and enjoyable read.  I am sure that I will read the sequel eventually, but I didn't love this one enough to want to dive right back into Hartley's world - at least not for a few days, anyway.  Here's hoping that in between Hartley watches every episode of Veronica Mars and adopts a big dog named Backup.

Teaching/Parental Notes:

13 and up
Gender:  Female
Sex:  Discussed, not described
Violence:  Death by strangulation, death by blunt force trauma, attempted murder by fire.
Inappropriate Language: The characters tend to censor themselves ("'We're censoring now?' 'Kyle says I have a mouth like a trucker.'") so they use Effing quite a bit.  Jesus, Damn, Slut
Substance Use/Abuse: Smoking

Unanswered Questions: 

- Does their cafeteria ONLY serve pizza sticks? 


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