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I Belong

Review: Dead Rules by Randy Russell

TitleDead Rules

AuthorRandy Russell

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: N/A

Publication Date: June 21, 2011

Format: Hardback, 384 Pages

ISBN-100061986704 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13978-0061986703 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Macie


Jana Webster and Michael Haynes were destined to be together forever. Of that, Jana was sure.

But Jana just died – in a bowling accident. And when she finds herself in Dead School her carefully planned future unravels. All she can think about is reuniting with Michael, so she decides to take matters into her own hands and bring Michael to her. And nothing, not even handsome, mysterious Mars Dreamcote and his irresistibly warm touch, will distract Jana from making her dreams come true.

Randy Russell’s debut novel is a hilariously macabre story with a voice like no other.

Quick & Dirty: This was a surprising and interesting take on death from a dead teen’s point of view.

Opening Sentence: Jana had the jitters.


The Review:

Dead Rules starts with Jana on her first day of school. The problem is that Jana is dead, and the school is for dead kids to help acclimate them to their new state of being. Jana doesn’t remember dying, but it eventually comes to her. Her strongest memory is of her boyfriend that she is still hopelessly in love with. The book is from a third person perspective, so we have a chance to see what her boyfriend is doing on earth, and we find out that he and his two friends are not innocent in relation to her death. Jana gets a hint on her first day that she might have been murdered from a notorious Slider, Mars Dreamcote. There are two main classifications of dead in Dead Rules: Riser and Slider. Sliders are kids who died doing something bad, or don’t follow the rules while at Dead School. There is not much known about what happens to Sliders after Dead School. Risers are kids who would rise after Dead School to the rest of the afterlife. Virgins were used as messengers, and anyone who committed suicide were basically watchmen at Dead School. I found this whole set up of the afterlife very interesting.

Each of the characters show signs of what they died of. There are kids missing limbs, stuck on stretchers, or with large arrows sticking out their heads. Each of the characters that Jana interacts with gets their own section that explains how they died, and little more about the characters themselves.   I really loved seeing how their death affected the personalities and daily lives of the teens. There is a lot for Jana to learn and get used to, but she is a fast learner. Her only interest is being with her boyfriend, Michael again. That is her sole determination that drives the whole book. She would kill to have her boyfriend with her again. I can’t say much more about the plot without giving it away.

Jana sees herself as half of a whole. Without Michael by her side, she doesn’t know who she is. Her whole life has been full of those around her, like her mother, ignoring her. She doesn’t have any friends besides Michael, and she has their whole future planned out. When all of that is taken away from her with her death, she doesn’t know what to do with herself besides do all she can to be with Michael again, even if that means killing him too.

There are rules for everything, and there are consequences if those rules are broken. Jana tries to use the system to her advantage, but finds out that some things are just not meant to be. She tries to cheat death, but she can’t thwart the Dead Rules to have the life she left behind with Michael. Those around her like her roommate Arva, or the attractive, but dangerous Slider Mars Dreamcote try to help her learn the rules, but Jana makes her own choices. What else is there left to do for newly dead teen? I would recommend this novel for anyone interested in a fresh, funny take on death.

Notable Scene:

There was onlyone way Jana could be happy again. And that was to be with Michael.

“If Darcee does wake up, she’ll be out of here. Just like that, back to the Planet she goes.”

“The Planet is real life, then?”

“I shouldn’t call it that, I suppose. But everyone does.”

“Where’s the Planet?”

“Oh, it’s all around us,” Arva croaked cheerfully. “We’re right in the middle of it. There’s a boundary between us and the real world. The fences around the dorm and around the school. But it’s more than fences. When they let you leave the campus, you become a spirit. You’ll think you have your body just like you do here, but you don’t. It’s pretty scary.”

“So we’re right here on Earth?”

“Yeah, that’s the cool part. Dead School is in a real school building and the dorm is a real building on the Planet too. They have Dead Schools all over. Around the world, I imagine. They’re vacant buildings. But we get to use them. When a new student shows up, they try to find you a vacancy near to where you live. Your town could be very near, you see. Or maybe we’re right in it.”

“Who are they? You said ‘they’ try to find a Dead School near to where you live.”

“The regents,” Arva said. “There’s a Council of Regents. They oversee everything. They’re like a board of education. I have to find you the student guidebook, don’t I?

Jana realized Arva didn’t really want to show her a copy of the student guidebook. In fact, Jana decided, Arva was probably keeping it from her on purpose. She enjoyed getting to explain her version of things to Jana.

FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me with a copy of Dead Rules. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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