Title: Deadly Cool
Author: Gemma Halliday
Genre: YA Mystery
Series: Deadly Cool (Book 1)
Publication Date: October 11, 2011
Format: Paperback, 320 Pages
ISBN-10: 0062003313 (Harper Teen)
ISBN-13: 978-0062003317 (Harper Teen)
Reviewed By: Macie
Hartley Grace Featherstone is having a very bad day. First she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her with the president of the Herbert Hoover High School Chastity Club. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And if that weren’t enough, now he’s depending on Hartley to clear his name. Seriously? Not cool.
But as much as Hartley wouldn’t mind seeing him squirm, she knows he’s innocent, and she’s the only one who can help him. Along with her best friend, Sam, and the school’s resident Bad Boy, Chase, Hartley starts investigating on her own. But as the dead bodies begin to pile up, the mystery deepens, the suspects multiply, and Hartley begins to fear that she may be the killer’s next victim
Quick and Dirty: Deadly Cool is written straight from a teenage girl’s mouth, and the mystery of who is killing the Color Guard girls kept me reading to the last page.
Opening Sentence: There are three things you never want to find in your boyfriend’s locker: a sweaty jockstrap, a D minus on last week’s history test, and an empty condom wrapper.
Deadly Cool is very much a high school novel, and I mean that in a good way. The characters and plot are written realistically, even though the premise is based on murderous teenagers, which is thankfully not very common. There is enough drama going on at Herbert Hoover High without the murder plot.
Hartley just wants to return to the time before she found out that her boyfriend, Josh, was cheating on her with the president of her school’s chastity club. Hartley is an average teenage girl. She does alright in school, doesn’t love it or hate it, is not in any extracurricular activities, but is happy with her life. Hartley doesn’t fit in with any of the social cliques, so she sticks with her friend Sam, and they get along well enough with their peers. I identify with the character of Hartley, and I imagine other readers will too, because she doesn’t have a group identity like the Color Guard girls do, but is her own person who is shaped by her experiences.
Gemma Halliday did a good job researching the modern teenage girl for this novel. I have a younger sister Hartley’s age, so I found the depiction of the girls to be very spot on, especially with brands and dialect. Texts messages are an important vehicle of information in this novel. Personally, I spell out all of my texts, but teens do have a tendency to shorten what they say. I imagine those factors will date the novel in the future, but what contemporary novel isn’t antiquated after the time it’s written?
Josh is the top suspect in the murder, but Hartley knows he is innocent. She and her friend Sam take it upon themselves to investigate. They team up with Chase, the editor of their school’s online newspaper, and go where the cops cannot to find out what they can about the murders. By being right in the middle of the action, Hartley has a different perspective of the murders, and uses her own way to get information that could clear Josh’s name, and solve the mystery.
There are not a lot of round characters, but the novel is focused on the plot, not characters. We get an insight into Hartley’s mind since she is our first person narrator, and we do see how she matures some as she deals with the tough matters of death, deception, and new relationships. The characterization of the Color Guard and cheerleaders is very one-sided, but that is the only side Hartley sees of the girls. She isn’t out to make friends with everyone, so her view of the vapid, appearance-obsessed cliques of girls is not the most sincere. I was a teenager once, so I understand not liking the girls who made it a point to not be friendly; so the characterization is realistic in that respect.
I know I couldn’t stop reading until I knew what happened, and I am glad to see that there will be another novel in the series that comes out later this year.
“I’ll help you.”
“Oh, Hart, you are the best–“
But I cut him off. “Let’s be clear. I’m not doing this because I’m your girlfriend. We are so over that. Done. Finito. The end.”
For a moment he looked like he might protest, but then his shoulders sagged in defeat. Apparently the day had taken the fight out of him as much as it had me.
“I’ll help you,” I said, softening my tone, “because I believe you.”
He nodded, his eyes a little sad. “Thanks, Hartley. I appreciate it.”
I pulled my hand away, shaking off the emotion I could feel backing up in my throat. “Look, the police will probably be watching your phone. How do I get hold of you?”
He reached into his back pocket and handed me a slip of paper with a name on it. HHHrunner94.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“MySpace account. I created it at Cody’s this afternoon.”
I wrinkled my nose. “MySpace? No one is on there anymore.”
“Exactly. What better place to hide out?”
The Deadly Cool Series:
1. Deadly Cool
FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me with a copy of Deadly Cool. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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