Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: Dead Rules by Randy Russell

Title: Dead Rules
Author: Randy Russell
Genre: Young Adult Supernatural
Elements: Ghosts, Spirits
Publisher: Harper TEEN, Harper Collins
ISBN-13: 9780061986703
ISBN: 0061986704
Release: June 21, 2011
Rating: 4/5

Tagline(s): She loved her boyfriend to death.


Till death

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.



Jana Webster, one-half of Webster and Haynes, is helplessly in love with her boyfriend, Michael. They had a future, they were going places. But now Jana's dead and attending a new school, Dead School. Some say her death was an accident, others say it was murder. But Jana doesn't care about how it happened, she just wants Michael to join her soon. And she'll do anything to get him to her side.

Michael Haynes never expected a harmless joke would result in Jana's death. Neither did he expect the trouble it would cause him. He just wants to move on and move toward his Ivy League future. But other forces won't let him move on, they want him to pay.

Mars Dreamcote wants to save a life after his own death took not only his life, but someone else's too. He was at the bowling alley when Jana's accident happened, and he tried to save her life, but was not able to in time. Even though it goes against his feelings for Jana, he helps her become a Slider so she can go through with her plan to get Michael.

Wyatt is another Slider who was killed when Mars's car clipped his motorcycle when Mars tried to avoid him in the accident that resulted in both their deaths. Wyatt helps Mars and Jana when she wants to contact Michael and when she wants to become a Slider. He also tries to make Jana realize that Michael isn't who she thinks he is. He was also at the bowling alley with Mars when Jana's accident happened. He becomes pretty good friends with Jana by the end of the book.


One theme is Jana's obsessive, if not delusional, love for Michael. She's so in love with Michael that she doesn't see the truth of their relationship. She believes that their love is on par with that of Romeo and Juliet, and that Michael should be so distraught over her death that he'll join her in death. And when she finally learns the truth about Michael she's completely shocked. It's never healthy to mistake obsession for love. Her love may have been true, but she became so blinded by it that she couldn't see the truth.

Another theme that everyone in Dead School experiences is the need to feel alive. The girls use makeup to feel alive, to feel normal. The Sliders use jumping to feel that rush of adrenaline. Everyone wants to feel alive. Whether they are living, or in the case of this book, dead. Whether they are Risers or Sliders. Whether it's frivolous or dangerous. Otherwise, you feel empty and dead---or deader.


The main plot of this book is told from Jana's point of view. Then there are sub-plots told from others---Mars, Wyatt, Michael, Nathan, Sherry---point of view.

I like how the author chose to have the plot involve what's happening on the Planet---from Michael, Nathan, and Sherry's points of view---as well as that of Dead School where Jana, Mars, and Wyatt are.

It was also fun reading about when those two worlds collided. When Jana, Mars, and Wyatt payed Nathan, Sherry, and Michael visits, trying to get them to confess to what they did.

Because of this, I think the plot has a perfect balance between the events happening on the Planet and at Dead School. Otherwise, we'd only be getting two-thirds of the plot.


First there's Dead School, which is actually located on the Planet, but in like a different dimension. Every student at Dead School is, as you know, dead. But while they are in the school, they have bodies. So while they know they're dead, they don't feel that way completely. Students, particularly Risers, are not allowed to leave campus without permission. Although Sliders leave campus all the time to go to the Planet.

The Planet is where the living, well, live. Sliders go to the Planet to go jumping and just feel alive in general. On the Planet, Sliders are able to naturalize---be seen and heard---but Risers aren't able to do that unless they are touching a Slider. So where Sliders are more like ghosts on the Planet---able to move things, touch things, be heard and seen---Risers are like spirits, pretty much can only do what comes naturally---sit, walk, run. etc.

Final Thoughts:

I really liked this book. It was a really fun story to read. I liked being able to see both sides of the story---the living and the dead. I thought it was hilarious when Mars and Wyatt mess with Nathan and Sherry, trying to get them to confess. Mars and Jana are really cute, Michael was just annoying, and Wyatt is just awesome.


Chapter Fifteen, Page 173

Mars knew that love wasn't all red-paper valentines and candy hearts. Love wasn't always joy. Love could be hot-blooded pain down to the bone. Sometimes love was despair. And sometimes love was wrong. Jana loved Michael enough to kill him for it. Jana loved Michael to death.

About this Author:

Randy Russell has believed in ghosts since having to take the trash out at night when he was 12 and being chased back to the house by “something” in the darkness.

The Edgar-nominated author of five published novels for adults, two books of short stories about ghosts, and two volumes of Southern Appalachia folklore, Randy’s first paranormal novel, Dead Rules , was released in hardcover by HarperTeen on June 21, 2011.

Randy is an academically trained folklorist who has collected hundreds of first-person accounts of ghost experiences from across the South. He presents regularly on “True Ghost Stories of the South” based on his interviews of people who have encountered ghosts.

Randy lives outside Asheville, North Carolina, near the end of a shady mountain cove road marked by a sign that reads “No Exit.” Randy thinks this means he will live forever.

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