Randy Russel Dead Rules
384 pp. HarperTeen (HarperCollins) 2011 ISBN: 978-0-06-1986700-3
Source: From the publisher
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Summary (From the publisher’s website):
Jana Webster and Michael Haynes were in love. They were destined to be together forever.
But Jana’s destiny was fatally flawed. And now she’s in Dead School, where Mars Dreamcote lurks in the back of the classroom, with his beguiling blue eyes, mysterious smile, and irresistibly warm touch.
Michael and Jana were incomplete without each other. There was no room for Mars in Jana’s life—or death—story. Jana was sure Michael would rush to her side soon.
But things aren’t going according to Jana’s plan. So Jana decides to do whatever it takes to make her dreams come true—no matter what rules she has to break.
Dead Rules is a fun, creative take on what happens to us when we die. As soon as I read that Jana died from a bowling accident, I was intrigued. My imagination went wild until I started the book and found out what happened. (And I’m not giving that away. You’ll have to read it!) The idea of Dead School doesn’t sound thrilling, especially since I’m a teacher and already spend five days a week in school! But Jana discovers that there’s more to Dead School than she realized, which makes the story even better.
Jana’s obsession with her boyfriend (ex-boyfriend, now?) fits very well with the comparison to her as a modern Juliet. The problem is that Michael didn’t follow her lead and act the part of a lovesick Romeo. This becomes the driving force behind Jana’s need to make contact with Michael. Mars Dreamcote becomes an important character in the story because, as a Slider, he can help Jana make that contact. Honestly, I was rooting for Mars the entire time I read Dead Rules. And maybe that’s odd because he’s dead. Yeah, that’s probably odd, but he’s such a cool and mysterious character. He’s looking out for Jana even though she, as a Riser, shouldn’t be hanging out with him. The mystery behind Mars won me over and took the story to that extra level.
I can’t write this review without discussing the deaths. At Dead School it’s pretty typical to discuss how you died. And I don’t want to give any of these stories away, but the creativity! Birds and yard darts?! Some simply made me crack up, while others shocked me and caused me to cringe. Any story that gets me to react in those ways is a winner.
It’s difficult to write this review without giving away major plot points. Randy has written a fantastic and original debut that I look forward to recommending to my students and friends. And if I ever go to Dead School, I’m pretty sure I’ll want to be a Slider.