Monday 22 October 2018

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Review: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

Undead Girl Gang by Lily AndersonUndead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson (Bought) - Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There's not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley's favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.

So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone's explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer...before the killer strikes again.
From Goodreads.

Trigger Warning: This book contains discussion of suicide, unintentional offensive language surrounding suicide, faith-based discrimination, and body shaming.

I have been really looking forward to reading Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson ever since I first heard about it. A protagonist who practises Wicca and calls herself a witch, with a murder mystery? Give me this book now! However, it really wasn't the book I was expecting.

When Mila's best friend Riley drowns in the creek within days of when two mean girls, June and Dayton, at school hang themselves, everyone believes it was a suicide pact. But Mila doesn't believe it; she knows Riley, and knows Riley wouldn't have. She knows someone killed her, but no-one else will even consider the possibility. Riley was a practising Wiccan, and Mila went along with it and got involved, and Mila knows she must use witchcraft to find answers. However, the only spell that looks likely to get her any answers is a spell to bring the dead back to life for seven days. So Mila casts the spell to raise Riley from the dead, but mistakenly also brings back June and Dayton. None of them know who killed them, though; in fact, they forgotten a number of days leading up to their deaths. Nor are they that bothered with finding their killer as they come to terms with the fact they're dead, and only have a few days left. It's up to Riley to try and figure out who might have killed them before they're seven days are up, but there are very few suspects.

I was really disappointed in Undead Girl Gang for a number of reasons. I think we've been kind of misled. I loved that this was a book that featured a fat, Mexican Wiccan, but, although Mila calls herself a witch, Wicca was more Riley's thing, and though she got involved, she could take it or leave it, really. And despite a spell here and there, including the one to bring Riley, June and Dayton back from the dead, there's also very little spellcasting. We learn very little about what Wicca is as a religion, about what they believe, about the spells they cast. The only spellcasting we see is the fictional, fantasy magic, like raising the dead. Wicca is a real religion, no matter what you may think of it, but there was very little of the religion in the book. Ok, so Mila and Riley had candles of various colours, crystals, essential oils, various plants and herbs, a moon chart, and a number of spell books, but we only get the most basic understanding of what they're used for.

Also, although the three girls are raised for the dead, and occasionally look like it, and a few other spells cast that have consequences, this felt more like a contemporary novel than a paranormal mystery. The description above says the three girls have unfinished business, which implies, to me, there are people they want to get revenge on, but nope. There's no unfinished business. They don't really do a huge deal. They want to attend their memorial, and get annoyed at the fake mourning and taking advantage of their deaths, and they miss their families, but know they can't visit them. But other than helping Mila with her spells, which doesn't happen very often, they don't really do very much but eat, drink, and bitch. There conversations can be kind of funny, it is amusing at times, but nothing much happens for a long time.

And as to the mystery, there isn't one. I mean, yes, there is a murder on the loose, but this isn't the kind of book where there are multiple suspects with various motivations to kill them, where you, as a reader, come up with multiple theories you come up with to then discard and replace with another as you find out more information. There is one potential suspect, and that's with a loose motivation. It's more of a, "maybe they did it because of X, because there doesn't seem to be anyone else who would have, but it's not much of a reason." There's no sitting on the edge of your seat as danger creeps ever closer. No suspense, no thrill, no nothing. So it's kind of slow.

It does pick up when we do start getting answers, but then I ended up rolling my eyes. I get it, but at the same time, really? The reason for the murder kind of made sense, but the why behind the reason, in my opinion, didn't. Because I can't see people actually giving a damn, so that seemed a little unrealistic to me. Also, how were the murders committed? Riley is one thing, but we know June and Dayton were hanged, but how? I'm pretty sure it would be a bit of a struggle trying to hang two people at once. So how did it actually happen? What did the murderer do, and how did they do it? We're not told.

If you don't go into Undead Girl Gang expecting a paranormal murder mystery, or learning much about Wicca, I'm sure it's quite a fun, light hearted read. But that is what I was expecting, so I was quite disappointed. There have been a number of people who really enjoyed this, though, so do read other reviews before deciding whether to read it or not.

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Published: 8th May 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Lily Anderson's Website

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  1. Aww no that sucks! I actually didn't really know what this one was about at all, just that I wanted to read it haha. But I always get a bit confused when books are pitched as being a twisty paranormal but end up sounding just like a plain contemporary!? With a bit of paranormal elements. It's always throwing!

    1. Yeah, it just wasn't at all what I was expecting! Which is a shame. Because it did sounds so good, but I felt so let down :( Hope you enjoy it if you still read it!