May 05, 2013

B.C. Johnson: "Deadgirl" (with Book Trailer)

Title: Deadgirl [on Amazon (link to the 2016 version) | on Goodreads]
Series: Deadgirl (1st of 5 books, but there's also a novella about a side character that is chronologically book 2.5 in the series - though best read after book 3 if you want to avoid a spoiler about its ending) 
[Please note: I edited this part, since originally this book was a standalone with sequel possibility; then it morphed into a 4-book series, and ultimately a 5-book one. My review still refers to an alleged standalone novel. Also, the one on the left is the original cover; see end of post for the new one]

Author: B.C. Johnson [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Afterlife, Supernatural, Contemporary
Year: 2012
Age: 12+
Stars: 4.5/5 Screw the inconsistencies (see below). I love this book too much. 5/5 (2015 update)
Pros: Unique, mind-blowing premise and setting. Characters with authentic voice. A lovestruck but spunky heroine. Engaging, imaginative prose.
Cons: A couple of not completely convincing attitudes. A few inconsistencies that won't really affect your reading pleasure. Some small mistakes slipped through revision.
WARNING! Violence and attempted rape, though not described in a graphic manner. Underage drinking.
Will appeal to: Afterlife books fans who are beginning to think they've seen it all.

Blurb: Fifteen-year old Lucy Day falls between the gears in the machinery of the afterlife. She is murdered while on her first date, but awakens a day later, completely solid and completely whole. She has no hunger for brains, blood, or haunting, so she crosses “zombie,” “vampire,” and “ghost” off her list of re-life possibilities. But figuring out what she is becomes the least of her worries when Abraham, Lucy’s personal Grim Reaper, begins dogging her, dead-set on righting the error that dropped her back into the spongy flesh of a living girl. Lucy must put her mangled life back together, escape re-death, and learn to control her burgeoning psychic powers while staying one step ahead of Abraham. But when she learns the devastating price of coming back from the dead, Lucy is forced to make the hardest decision of her re-life - a decision that could save her loved ones...or kill them. (Amazon)

And if you think that a picture (ahem, a video) is worth a thousand words... 
here is the official Deadgirl Trailer!

Review: OK, so I have an addiction to Dead Girl Books - I've shouted it from rooftops stated it often and very clearly. I'm a sucker for young girls ending up in whatever version of the Afterlife an author can come up with. I've even seen some of them brought back to life. So a book called Deadgirl was a winner with me from the title on. But when I found out it was a completely different take on the subject, I immediately screamed yay for diversity. Because having a dead character who wakes up the next day, apparently alive but not vampirized/zombified/whatevered like it's custom nowadays, made me throw my fists in the air in excitement extremely happy - though my usual composure may have suffered a little because of that. Then, it turned out the book was even better than I had given it credit for after reading the blurb, an extract and other reviews - though, unsurprisingly, less renowned than most not-so-glorious pieces of writing. Can I rectify this wrong? Well - I'm going to try :).
First off, as I'm writing my review, Deadgirl is - unfortunately - out of print, due to Cool Well Press recently collapsing under the weight of the economic conjuncture. BUT! for those of you who will eventually take interest in reading this novel, here's the good news...well, actually, two pieces of good news: 1) Deadgirl will be resurrected reprinted soon! and 2) Deadgirl will even get a sequel! This is what the author himself stated in response to a message I sent him. So, don't fear committing to this book - it will be in print again soon...and now I'm going to tell you why you should give it a (fat) chance. 
Lucy is your typical teen - except she isn't. Johnson - a rather young male author on his first novel - was able to write a convincing 15 years old female, though involved in exceptional circumstances. Her insecurities, her feelings for Zack, the way she relates to her friends and parents, the make-up-and-attire issues...she's totally fleshed out. But of course, Lucy is not typical when it comes to her situation and the way she deals with it. She fights for her life - or what's left of it - and that of her friends, making the best of what feels like a desperate situation. And she's a fighter from the very first chapter, when she tries to stay alive despite all odds, in front of a group of would-be rapists and murderers. The next chapters take us back a couple of days before Lucy's death, giving us a chance to grasp the reason why she was able to come back - or never really died in the first place. When we think we're about to read about her big date with Zack, there's an original, gutsy transition that we are to fully understand only later. And no, I'm not going to spoil that with a preemptive explanation ;).
So now Lucy is, let's say, half-alive. Or alive in a peculiar way. Or dead in a peculiar way. She finds herself visiting a world where some of the everyday-life rules don't apply, or are reversed. This world (which doesn't have a reassuringly all-wrapping name like Heaven or Hell or Purgatory or whatever) is unique, wonderfully - though scarily - depicted, visually mind-blowing. She also meets an unlikely new friend there - Puck - who will be crucial in helping her understand her new situation and deal with its unwritten laws, not to mention try to save the day at the end. [...]

It won't be long before Lucy becomes aware of the terrible price her loved ones - and even absolute strangers - may have to pay for her to remain alive...or not slip away. At the same time, she's still worried about Zack and a new date with him, which seems unrealistic at times, what with her "small problem"...On the other hand, Lucy is a young, stubborn, brave girl, hell-bent on staying alive and making the most of it, like any other teen...and - exactly because of her condition - even more so. I don't really get her parents at times, though. Her father seems to focus more on the cheat she set up the night of her date than on her misadventure, and even sounds angry at her like she were responsible for it all instead than being the victim. Her mother is scared out of her wit, but the next moment her life seems to depend on getting the new Cosmo. (Is it also unrealistic that they don't realise Lucy's not a potential anorexic...because she hasn't just been eating little - in fact, she hasn't had a single bit of food for days!). Maybe they're just trying to cope with what happened (or what they think happened) the best they can, but still. Lucy's father will be cast in a more favourable light later on, though - and so will her mother.
Lucy's friends are a varied bunch, and manage not to get stereotypical. Morgan in particular - the blonde, gorgeous, popular one - is a refreshing change from the worn-out mean-queen-bee character who seems mandatory in most YA books. Maybe a group of so different girls wouldn't really be close friends IRL, but I loved to see them stick for one another. Also, Lucy is not the only hero in this book. Zack and Morgan are both involved in the situation first-hand, and turn out to be far less helpless than they were accounted for.
There's a small mystery woven into this book, that is only explained in the very end - an unknown text-messages sender. While not highly significant to the progress of the story (Lucy didn't really need this person's pearls of wisdom...), this has the ultimate purpose of letting us know that Lucy's not alone in her predicament. Also, it leaves a door open for a possible sequel, though the story in itself is concluded - and mind you, hardly with a classic "happily ever after". There's nothing classic in this novel...or maybe it's a classic in know what I mean.
Only when reading Deadgirl for the second time was I able to spot some inconsistencies - which is indeed a testament to the emotions this novel is able to stir. How come Lucy manages to uncover a big secret about surviving in a few days, while Puck (it seems) wasn't able to do the same in years? Why are they the only Phantoms meeting in the Grey Meadows? Who are the creatures who hunt them there? Also, if Lucy is going to make it (I'm not spoiling that, haha), she will never be able to grow old or die-die. How is she supposed to go on with her life? As I said, though, you gotta love this story nonetheless. Just thought I'd address the topic out of honesty and nitpickiness :).
This is, surprisingly, a clean book. But not artfully so - like when an author comes up with a slang of her/his own in order to leave the dirty words out. On the other hand, some rather tough topics Deadgirl touches are probably better handled by teens aged 14 and more. Or, well - by mature, non emotive 12 y.o., at least :).
I was able to spot some small mistakes in this book, stuff that must have slipped through revision. Then again, I loved Johnson's prose. It's peculiar, and not toned-down to kids. I guess said small mistakes will be corrected in the new print, and the book will be even more enjoyable - though I did love it just the same. And I haven't even been a teen for a long time...

Now, something to look forward to, while you wait for Deadgirl to be reprinted (but you still can hunt for remainder copies of course!). B.C. Johnson will offer you a special treat on Friday 10th if you stop by his site (or Twitter page, or Facebook page, or Deadgirl Facebook page)...the Director's Cut of Puck's story! because it was originally twice as long as the one told in the book, and covered more of Puck's background, as Johnson himself stated. Anyway, Puck will get his own special post on my blog on Friday. Be sure of stopping by!
(Edited on May 11: here it is!)

Update: new cover 2014!
For quotes from this book click here.
For my "Deadgirl: Ghostlight" review (second installment in the series) click here.
For my "Daphne" review (installment 2.5 in the series) click here.
For my "Deadgirl: Goneward" review (third installment in the series) click here.
For my "Deadgirl: Daybreak" review (fourth installment in the series) click here.
For more Afterlife books click here.


  1. Wow! This sounds epic! I need to check this one out. It sounds right up my alley. I definitely don't mind waiting for a reprint.

    1. Or you may get lucky and find it still in stores!

      Not related to the author, are you? LOL

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. This sounds really good! I'm glad it's getting a second chance to get out into the world.

    1. I contacted the author via Goodreads, and he's working on it. Keeping my fingers crossed - also because I want to read the sequel now LOL.

  3. OK, I'm getting the picture, you really do like dead girls walking! LOL. But just when I was reading this and getting excited, I see its out of print. Sigh! Guess I'll have to haunt the secondhand book shops for this one, fingers crossed!! Great review :-)

    BookishTrish @ Between the Lines

    1. Dead girls walking LOL. Yes, I have this small perversion ;).

      I do hope the author is on the verge of getting a new book deal (involving the Deadgirl reprint). He was confident in his responses to my messages. Also, he's working on the sequel...and apparently, is bursting with book ideas.

      And...thank you!

  4. Okay, so I'm adding this one to my list because it sounds awesome, but I checked Amazon and it's listed for like $50. That's insane, right? You mentioned the book being reprinted, but was it? You're not supposed to make me want to read a book that I can't actually read!!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

  5. Oh no! I see that the Amazon link redirected you to the old version, which isn't available anymore (unless you find a used copy). Here's the new one:
    I fixed it in my post too. I didn't know the old link wouldn't work for the new version as well. Sorry! But at least you alerted me of that 😉.
    This is an in-progress series too - 4 books and a novella. To date, three books have been released. They are dark inplaces, but also funny, and all-round awesome!

    1. Also: here's the link to Book 2:
      And here's the link to Book 3 (which was released independently, since the press wasn't interested in issuing the rest of the series. Bummer! That's why it isn't listed along with the other two as a series installment):


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