Book Review- Dead School by Laura Gia West and A Diamond in my Pocket by Lorena Angell
Title- Dead School
Author- Laura Gia West
Publisher- Black Rose. Nov 2018
Tina Crocker thinks she is having the best day of her life. A quiet misfit; she finally takes charge and performs at the school talent show. She kills it. And is killed shortly thereafter. She ends up in Dead School.
This was recommended to me through Amazon Kindle for free and I picked it because it looked like fun.
I’m always interested in different perspectives of the afterlife and this was a new concept for me, the idea of having to go through a school environment was something that intrigued me.
Tina Crocker is/was a high school misfit, never really connecting with anyone other than her cat. On the night of her schools’ talent show she decides to step out of her comfort zone and perform. Just as she finishes her solo, she gets hit by falling scenery and dies.
She wakes up dead and is put on the bus to go to Dead school. Here she is told that she has messed up a final time and she hasn’t learned any of the lessons that she was sent to earth to learn. As a result of this, if she doesn’t graduate from Dead School this time she will be forced to be reincarnated as a homeless man who dies in a horrific way.
Tina attempts to graduate whilst navigating the rules of the dead and the usual high school clichés.
So the story itself was very interesting and I loved the different aspects of Dead school such as learning how to materialise and affect things in the living world as well as the various hierarchies of the dead.
There were some quite wonderful descriptions of Tina’s experiences of the afterlife. Her initial reanimation and subsequent bus journey was quite harrowing and gave you the feel that this was a much darker book than you first thought- the image of the girl who drowned stayed with me for hours. This first part really had a Beetlejuice feel to it and I really thought it was excellent.
After Tina gets to Dead school things start to get a little dull. She finds the school mean girl and makes instant enemies, she falls for a tortured artist soul and manages to clumsily fall every single class without even trying.
Some of the points of the plot which are important seemed a little far-fetched to me. Someone who has failed at life over 4,000 times but doesn’t actually remember any of her past lives, or the lessons she didn’t learn from them surely can’t be blamed for those lives now.
There were several other plot points that annoyed me including her parents somehow being better off now that she was dead and the entire pets in heaven sub-plot.
Another irksome thing was the constant bullying and fat-shaming which wasn’t addressed but left a bad taste in my mouth due to its matter-of-fact delivery and lack of reaction from either the other characters or the author.
However, the ending was pretty good and not altogether obvious so it had that in its favour. A fun, quick read but probably not one I’ll buy myself.
Book Review- A Diamond in my pocket- Lorena Angell
Title- A diamond in My pocket
Author- Lorena Angell
Publisher- Fantasy Books. Released June 2014
After breaking the 100m world record, sixteen-year-old Calli is whisked away to a secret facility where she’s placed with other teens who possess superhuman speed. She soon finds herself in a deadly situation involving other superpowers, a mystical diamond, and a centuries-old clan vying for world domination. Calli will have to rely on her quick wit and gut instinct to navigate her new world which includes secretly carrying a power-infusing diamond, all the while steering clear of the young man who mistakenly believes she’s his soulmate.
I received this from Voracious Reads as a free Ebook in exchange for an honest review.
This is book one in the series.
We are introduced to 16-year-old Callie who suddenly finds herself breaking the 100m world record after always being last in sports. She is whisked away to a secret training facility where she is surrounded by people who possess superhuman speed.
They are the ‘Altered’. Children who were changed by cosmic energy which gives them powers. Calli’s fellow students are the Runners who have superhuman speed. There are also Healers, Seers, Mind-readers, and other assorted powers who divide themselves into clans.
Calli arrives at the school right as some Runners have been kidnapped by the Death Clan. She is chosen as one of a team who must retrieve a diamond to exchange for the hostages.
The basic premise is a good one. A person just coming into their powers, thrust into the world of secret government spies, clans, witches and deadly shadow monsters. A girl trying to do the right thing surrounded by those who look down on her.
Calli is, at the outset, not as fast or as mired in the world as the rest of the characters so we get to experience it all though her eyes. Her initial disbelief is quickly assuaged by the proof in front of her and so we too suspend our disbelief and go with it.
I really liked the fact that, even though she assumes she will be the fastest, she ends up falling behind on her first race. That was a great piece of writing as, just like Calli, you assumed that because she is the protagonist she would win.
Once she meets the witch, however, the plot veers and within a very short space of time, Calli becomes all-powerful and indestructible. She knows all and has all of the different powers from every clan and suddenly our average MC is practically the Chosen one. I found this really hard to swallow and it diminished my enjoyment of the book.
As much as I loved the fact that there wasn’t a love triangle (finally in a YA!), there was a romance based entirely on a potential vision. This visison turned out to be false, and then true and then false. I didn’t actually feel any chemistry between Calli and Chris and her constant delving into his mind uninvited and unannounced smacked a little too much of lack of consent and a disregard of boundaries to me.
Also she was only at the school for a matter of days before they went off on their mission and during most of that she was called names and insulted and suddenly she is willing to risk her life for these school mates and calls them friends?
Any 16 year old worth their salt would have dumped these self-righteous idiots and left them to fend for themselves after what they put her through.
There was also the drowning scene where Chris managed to rescue her and give her CPR whilst… drowning internally himself.
Yeah, I was a little confused for that scene.
Overall it had a good start and initially I was enjoying the story. But the sudden inclusion of every super-power and our MC going from average to almost deity within a few months was really inconsistent and jarring.
The different clans and the very idea of the super-secret cosmic superheroes was a good one but the execution wasn’t all that.