Publisher: Quercus Publishing.
Release date: March 29th 2012
Paperback, 352 pages.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Jen
When Jana Webster dies in a tragic accident, she finds herself transferred to 'Dead School' in the afterlife, where students fall into distinct cliques. Risers (good kids who died innocently), Sliders (bad kids, who have one foot tied to earth) and Virgins (there are fewer than Jana would expect). Jana's boyfriend and love of her life - Michael - is still in the land of the living. Michael is Romeo to Jana's Juliet and as the story goes... even death can't keep them apart. Tired of waiting for him to kill himself over his grief of losing her, Jana decides she needs to do it for him. To kill Michael she'll need the help of a dangerous and sexy Slider - Mars Dreamcoate. But Mars has a goal of his own: he wants to save a life to atone for having taken one in a drunk-driving accident. And to complicate matters, he was trying to save Jana when she died and saw what was really going on when her 'accident' happened. Jana decides to do whatever it takes to get Michael back, and nothing - not even Mars' warm touch or the devastating secret he holds about her death - will stop her.
Who knew that being dead would be so complicated? That there would be so many rules about what you could or couldn’t do? In Randy Russell’s debut novel Dead Rules Jana Webster, of Webster and Haynes, finds that if she is going to get the eternity she wants she going to have to break every rule ever written about being dead.
Jana and Michael’s double date with Nathan and Sherry didn’t go exactly as Jana had planned. Instead, Jana ended up dead. Killed in a freak bowling accident. Now Jana is stuck in Dead School relegated to spend all of eternity wearing a hideous plaid uniform skirt and separated from her one true love Michael Haynes (of Webster and Haynes). To make matters worse Dead School bad boy Mars Dreamcote seems to have taken an interest in Jana, unfortunately associating with Mars is against the rules and could get Jana expelled – forever. Yet, when Jana realizes that Michael has not immediately killed himself in grief over the loss of his one true love Jana decides he needs a little help crossing over to the other side. And Mars is just the person to help her get him there.
Dead Rules is not just another paranormal romance with a brooding love triangle. The story has a little bit of mystery to it as well. On Jana’s first day in Dead School someone is writing her notes that her death was not an accident, but actually murder. One of the things I really liked was that the author brings the reader back to earth to follow the actions of Michael, Nathan, and Sherry within each chapter. Once the events surrounding Jana’s death are clear you can’t help but be on Jana’s side.
Randy Russell also does an excellent job of creating an afterlife that is realistic, and a bit creepy. He acknowledges that most teens don’t die naturally and creates a variety of compelling back- stories for his minor characters. These stories create a depth for each of the minor characters that help to form the surreal world that is Dead School. There is also quite a bit of humor throughout the story, which helps relieve some of the tension in reading about dead teenagers.
The only problem I have with Dead Rules is the ending. It left me screaming. “What happens next!?!” The last lines of the story are very ambiguous and can signal either a solid ending or a possible sequel. I am hoping for the sequel, as I really want to know what lies in store for Jana and Mars and what happens once they graduate from Dead School? I can also envision Randy Russell continuing with a series that focuses on some of the other students in Dead School. The world he has created in Dead Rules is such creepy fun that I truly hope he decides to take us back sometime in the near future!