A great start to a quirky, young-adult, urban-fantasy, mystery series
Dead Is the New Black (Dead Is #1) by Marlene Perez
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: September 1, 2008
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Daisy Giordano has lived her entire seventeen years in the quirky little town of Nightshade in Northern California, where vampires, werewolves, banshees, and witches roam freely, unbeknownst to the ordinary residents. Daisy's family members are magically gifted, too--all except Daisy. Her mother receives premonitions and revelatory images; her eighteen-year-old sister Poppy moves objects without touching them via telekinesis, and her nineteen-year-old sister Rose reads minds. Daisy's mom insists she's a late bloomer, but Daisy has little hope she will ever be able to do anything psychic.
As a result, Daisy feels left out in her family at the best of times as the only "norm," but when her mother, who uses her powers to help the local police chief, asks Rose to assist her in figuring out who murdered a local cheerleader, it's the last straw. Daisy may not have psychic powers, but the crime happened to one of her fellow students at Nightshade High School, where Daisy is a junior and Poppy a senior, and she's determined to do something about it. Whoever--or whatever--killed the cheerleader is starting to harm other cheerleaders, and at the top of Daisy's list of suspects is her ex-friend and current enemy, the gorgeous head-cheerleader, Samantha. Sam has returned to school this fall looking and dressing like a vampire, and Daisy thinks Sam might actually be one. With the help of her long-time best friend Ryan, Daisy sets out to solve the case while trying not to get distracted by her uncomfortably non-platonic feelings for Ryan, who has recently morphed into an amazingly hot guy.
I loved this book! It's a fun read, and a fast one--especially since I couldn't put it down once I started it. Daisy is an immensely likable heroine with a great family, and her romantic interest, Ryan, is adorable. Nightshade itself has a delightful cast of quirky paranormal characters, and one of my favorites is the enchanted juke box at the local diner. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA fantasy with a light, and frequently comic, touch.
Note for parents, teachers and librarians: This book is G-rated. There are no incidents of drinking, drugs or adolescent sex either on or offstage, and Daisy's family relationships are warm and loving.
Fantasy World-Building: 4.5
Mystery Plot: 3.5 for adult and older teens; 5 for younger teens
Romantic Subplot: 5