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Dead Is the New Black
Marlene Perez
Harcourt, 204 pages

Dead Is the New Black
Marlene Perez
Marlene Perez is the author of Unexpected Development, an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. She lives in Orange County, California.

Marlene Perez Website
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A review by John Enzinas

Mix together equal parts Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High and you've probably got a reasonable good approximation of Dead Is the New Black by Marlene Perez.

This is the first in a series of adventures of Daisy Giordano, a Junior at Nightshade High School. Daisy is the youngest in family of psychics but has not yet manifested any powers of her own. The story follows Daisy as she attempts to help her mother, a famous psychic, who is stumped by a murder investigation. She spots a connection to the investigation when a wasting disease starts striking down the members of the school's cheerleading team. Her detective work is made more difficult when her former best friend pulls her onto the cheerleading team and she and her partner in detection fall for each other.

The book is a quick read at just over 200 pages, but is very tightly written. The pace is fast and there is not an ounce of fat that could be trimmed away. I especially enjoyed the facts that the author didn't take any shortcuts with her characterization, making sure that the characters were not just simple stereotypes but each had reasons for being who they were. You could clearly see that each character had their own story even if it wasn't detailed.

This would be an excellent choice for any young adult reader who enjoys detective stories and/or a twist of the supernatural. However, a word of warning: self-conscious teenage boys might feel unease at reading a book with a bright pink cover. Us older folks may find it harder to remember the passions of our youth in order to identify with the main character but this was still a very entertaining way to spend an evening or a couple of bus commutes.

Copyright © 2008 John Enzinas

John Enzinas reads frequently and passionately. In his spare time he plays with swords.

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