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The Sweet Dead Life Hardcover – May 14, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Teen (May 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616951508
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616951504
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,703,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-9-This colorful tale of Texas teens vs. comically juvenile adults moves quickly and is never short on laughs. Eighth-grader Jenna has already endured the disappearance of her father; the complete vegetablization of her mother; and a bizarre and sudden illness that turns her pea green, her tongue full of weird dark patches, and a rash on her feet that makes even her favorite pair of boots unbearable. So when her brother wrecks their Prius in an effort to get Jenna to the hospital, she doesn't quite notice the strange circumstances of the crash. She does, however, notice her brother's transformation from paunchy stoner to chiseled hunk. His appearance isn't the only thing that's drastically altered. Jenna's life takes a serious turn when she is informed that her illness is the product of slow and deliberate poisoning. Jenna and her newly reformed brother begin to question everything from their father's disappearance to their mother's mysterious ailments. Preble's narrator is spot-on, and readers will relate to her as she speaks, acts, and behaves like a 14-year-old. Although several questions are left unanswered, they don't detract from the story; if anything, they lend credibility. After all, some subjects are too complicated for a cookie-cutter ending. The Sweet Dead Life is a great addition to any collection.-Jennifer Furuyama, Pendleton Public Library, ORα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Fourteen-year-old Jenna has been seriously ill for a month. But the larger issues of her unemployed, depressed single mother and her mysteriously missing father distract her from taking care of herself. When Jenna collapses, her older brother Casey drives her to the hospital and ends up crashing their car. When Jenna wakes up, she finds that Casey seems to have gotten much better looking, and that the touch of his hand is incredibly soothing—that’s because Casey died in the car crash and is now an angel, remaining on earth to look after his family. There’s a whole lot going on here: poisonings, blackmail, sibling relationships, romance, and abandonment, in addition to angels, but the unifying thread is Jenna’s clever, bitter, self-aware, and loving voice. Told in journal entries that span five weeks, the novel’s multiple story lines will likely continue in a sequel. The small-town Texas setting is delightfully detailed but not parochial. Preble’s lively descriptions and unusually well-drawn, caring sibling relationship (a topic not usually explored in teen fiction) are especially noteworthy. Grades 8-12. --Debbie Carton

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Customer Reviews

The main character is sassy and opinionated an I love it.
Sarah Smith
It takes 99 full pages for this book just to get as far as the middle of the second paragraph of the back-cover blurb.
Silea
Overall, this book was a smart and fun read with a main character that will appeal to both tweens, teens, and adults.
K. Sowa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Silea TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It takes 99 full pages for this book just to get as far as the middle of the second paragraph of the back-cover blurb. That's right. You can read one and a half paragraphs to learn that Jenna's brother is dead, or you can read 99 pages.

The whole book is only about 250 pages long, so that gives you some sense of how it flows. 99 pages to cover what was summarized in less than two short paragraphs. It's non-stop frenetic action in which absolutely nothing happens. Jenna agonizes about whether to use 'the A word' to describe her brother. Jenna and her dead brother drive to school, to home, to a restaurant. Jenna does her homework. It's the opposite of gripping, well-paced fiction.

Now, i must admit, the frenetic going-nowhere feel of the book is a pretty fair depiction of some of the more caffeinated 8th graders i've known, but since i'm not a caffeinated 8th grader, it was just tiring.

This book will not go on the shelf for my kids to discover. It's full of profanity for profanity's sake, and the frequent revisitation of the incident in which Jenna catches her brother masturbating is guaranteed to offend both those who agree with Jenna that such activity is perverted and those who think it's natural and shouldn't be considered perverted.

The writing is pretty good, but the content is at best forgettable.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Conner VINE VOICE on May 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a charming and engaging story of a tough-on-the-outside teenager as she adapts to her brother's transformation from a stoner to an angel. It's definitely geared to a teen audience, with just enough mild profanity to keep teenagers interested without slipping into anything too vulgar. It's not a sappy romance, and all of the supernatural elements are plausible within the context of the book.

The central mysteries are not tough to figure out (the book cover reveals the secret of the brother's transformation, and there are very few possible suspects for the whodunit part of the mystery story), but that's just fine because the book is less about the mysteries and more about the protagonist adapting to the changed roles that develop when a family loses a member. Yes, Jenna doesn't like her brother's new powers and the spooky poison sneaking into her body, but this largely reflects that when your dad walks out on the family, the world is a scary place, and maybe you resent that your brother has to take a paternal role. This is a great book for teens with similarly shifting family structures, as the emotions always play realistically, so a concerned adult can use this book to start conversations.

Readers concerned about the angelic element should know that these angels are not tied to any particular spiritual tradition. The book is not preachy, and the angel characters still curse and goof around like everyone else.

On a personal note, I was delighted with how well the book captures the North Houston suburban experience. Mrs.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tabitha VINE VOICE on October 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This story started out great. The voice is lively and engaging, the relationship between Jenna and her brother is real and believable, and Jenna's life feels like it belongs to a typical teen. At the same time, everything is clearly wrong. Jenna's mom won't get out of bed, and Casey has to work two jobs in order to pay the household bills. I was completely sucked in based on the summary above and the first chapter.

The pacing wasn't quite what I was looking for, though. The summary gave away too much of the first half of the story, so I found myself impatient to get to the parts where I didn't know what was going to happen next. To be fair, that's not really the fault of the story, but of the person who wrote the summary. Unfortunately, it makes it seem like the story is slow.

I liked the characters a lot. Both Jenna and Casey feel like real kids trying to do the best they can, given their raging hormones and other unusual problems at home. They're flawed, but that's what made them so likeable.

There's no actual romance, but there's the promise of it in the future. The ending felt like a setup for the next book, though, as well as the role that Jenna's love interest will play--I'm pretty sure there's a plot twist hiding in there, and I wish it had been a little less obvious. :) That said, it didn't diminish my enjoyment of the story, and this book could still be satisfactorily read as a stand-alone.

Overall, I found this fun and entertaining, and Jenna's dialog is quite funny at times. If there is a next book, I'll be reading it.

Age appropriateness: there isn't any sex, language, or graphic violence, so I'd say this story is appropriate for younger teens and pre-teens.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By T. Geo on June 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I'm sorry but this book was so dull. Also can I just say something about cover blurbs, on the cover of the book you read Jenna is being poisoned and her brother is dead but actually reading the book you don't find this out until 100 pages into the book. A fail for me because maybe not knowing would have kept me guessing and more into the book. I think this book was a mystery which in reading it I did not care about the who-dun-it.
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