Fast paced, entertaining and frequently silly, Undeadly is a decent paranormal romance that will appeal to fans of the House Of Night series. While not breathtakingly original, it's a readable story that offers something you don't see in the YA genre too often - Egyptian lore and necromancy. And for that reason alone it's a story worth checking out!
Molly Bartolucci is a necromancer. She was born with the ability to raise and control zombies. She's not particularly fond of her talent. She'd much rather live a normal teenage life, hanging out with her friends and dating Rick. Unfortunately for Molly, that scenario is out of question. And not only because her soon-to-be-boyfriend dies on the night of her sixteenth birthday, but also - or perhaps most of all - because Anubis chose her to be one of his reapers. And not just any reaper, either, but the only living reaper with the power to defeat evil.
Let me start off by saying that as excited as I was to read a story featuring Egyptian gods, necromancers, zombies and reapers, I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped I would. And that's mainly due to the fact that I didn't connect with the main character. At all. Molly was definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed and at times I wondered if perhaps the author intentionally made her so. She was immature, irresponsible, at times disconnected from reality and - as much as I hate to say that - plain stupid. Not only did her actions made me raise my eyebrows in surprise and shake my head disapprovingly, but her unlikeable personality really got on my nerves. And - no matter how exciting and entertaining the plot line - it's very hard to like a book when you can't stand its lead heroine. Molly was just a little bit too over the top for my taste. I got the feeling that Michele Vail tried very hard (perhaps a little bit too hard) to make her look and sound like a really cool and witty teenager. The result was quite grotesque and unattractive, and I certainly would've enjoyed this book more if it wasn't packed with outdated teen slang and cliches. On top of all that, Molly's first person narrative was far from captivating or enthralling, and her inner monologues only further solidified my dislike of her. I found the narration to be all over the place. Too much emphasis was put on trying (and, unfortunately, failing) to sound funny and snarky, instead of fully developing both the story line and the characters. Molly's manner of speaking (and thinking) felt forced, childish and unnatural. Here are some quotes to illustrate it:
"Crap. That test was awful with a side of lame. Why hadn't I said something less sucky? Argh!"
"I mean, I'd done something impossible to save Rick. And then I'd passed out. 'Cause I know how to par-tay. Ugh."
"Huh. Anubis was cute. Not my type at all, though. In fact I felt a little repelled. Probably because he was a god and all."
I mean, I can only swallow so many UGHs and ARGHS and HEL-LOs before I start gagging.
Thankfully, the plot line of Undeadly was better than its lead heroine. The overall set-up of the story is in many ways similar to the Vampire Academy series (Molly discovers that she possesses some very special powers/abilities, she's shipped off to Nekyia Academy where she is then tutored by an arrogant and seemingly unattainable hottie). The similarities are hard to miss, but they didn't bother me all that much. It's the unique premise that really made this book for me. I can't tell you how excited I was to read a book based around Egyptian mythology! That alone was a big redeeming quality for me. I also found it quite interesting to read about zombies, necromancers and reapers, though at the same time I wished those themes were more thoroughly explored. One aspect of the story was especially interesting and that's zombifying your dead relatives and having them work for you or serve you. I thought that was a fascinating idea that could inspire some philosophical musings on life, death and free will. Sadly, the more meaningful and stimulating side of the story was not explored at all. I did, however, had a lot of fun following the plot line. I liked how fast paced and action packed the story was, and - once I got past the annoying heroine - I enjoyed myself quite a lot.
In the end, despite its many shortcomings, Undeadly proved to be a good read. While I can't say that it blew me away, I'm certainly interested in finding out what will happen next. And hopefully, in the next instalment of The Reaper Diaries we will see some character growth in Molly. Fingers crossed!
on November 20, 2012
I was so excited when I began this novel. I love the entire idea of Reapers and the addition of ancient Egypt seemed like a really original take on the idea. Not to mention the cover of Undeadly is gorgeous so I really expected to love this book. Unfortunately, it ended up falling flat right from the start.
I knew this book was heading in the wrong direction when instead of careful world building Vail begins the book with vast information dumps. I wanted desperately to skip these sections but instead plowed on expecting a fuller and more in depth explanation later on. I never got this grand explanation and instead I was greeted by Molly, the main character, who was immature, flippant, and generally really bugged me.
Molly has a dream on her 16th birthday about Anubis the ancient Egyptian god of the underworld. In this dream he asks if she will accept extra gifts from him. Molly accepts and then spends the rest of the book complaining about these gifts and not really learning anything about her new powers and what her purpose is. I think that was my main problem with this book. There was no clear goal or plot direction. There are a ton of different possible story lines and in the end only one of them is resolved leaving all the others never explained or even explored. I was disappointed with the direction the book took.
Molly as a character got on my nerves. I understand that she is 16 and is entitled to being a little immature, but she takes immature to a whole new level. Molly can not do anything herself, believes everyone at face value, and just kind of dances through life with no deeper thoughts then the mall and boys (even when people tell her she needs to think of something else). I initially though Molly was portrayed this way in the beginning of the novel so that we could see her growth as she comes to terms with Anubis's gifts. The problem was she never did any growing. She acts this way the entire novel which takes place in a week!
My other problem was that the one character, Rath, I thought might be able to make her grow up and see the importance of her new position disappears half way through the novel with no explanation and shows up toward the end offering some secretive answer about where he has been. I know if someone disappeared for a week I would not put up with the "Working for Anubis, can't tell you its secret" answer. Multiple characters offered this as an excuse throughout the novel and it just did not jive with me.
I was also disappointed with the supporting characters. After a big surprise in her life and the Anubis dream Molly chooses to go to an elite boarding school, Nekyia. Her first day she meets a mean girl who instantly hates her for absolutely no reason. Molly then makes best friends with the first girl she sees. This portion of the story reminded me a lot of the House of Night series. That was not good and had me cringing. The mean girl (Aphrodite) who happens to be in charge of an elite club is never given a good reason for her dislike of Molly. And this new best friend, who also happens to be Southern and gorgeous (Stevie Rae) doesn't really have a personality. I felt like she was just there to fill space. I actually felt this way about all of Molly's Nekyia friends.
Overall, this book was just not my thing. The world building was not done well, the characters felt too young and immature, and there were far to many plot holes for me to enjoy the story. I am going to save myself the time and skip the next book but for those of you who enjoyed The House of Night series by PC and Kristin Cast or Evermore series by Alyson Noel you might enjoy this one and should think about giving it a try.
on November 24, 2012
In compliance with FTC guidelines, I received this book through Netgalley.com
This book immediately caught my attention when I saw it. It has two things I really adore, Egyptian mythology and zombies. When it comes to Egyptian mythology I've been really starved for it since Greek and Roman have exploded onto the scene. So I snapped this one up with the hopes of having a double whammy of fun...but instead I was kind of left a bit underwhelmed.
The plot is fresh and I haven't personally read anything in the YA catergory with a Necromancer main character. Add that with the great use of the Egyptian myths involving the gods and the soul, and you have a great basis for something that could really stand out. Vail added some great elements with an interesting Necro school, Anubis (my favorite myth god), and the fact that zombies have a rather interesting place in society; but I think what brought it all down was the main character, Molly.
Molly is a bit frustrating. At first it was the way she talked, because she does use some dated language that I haven't heard since the nineties, but I got over it because it's just one of those things that I try to give some on. Then it became increasingly apparent that Molly was not going to win any awards for intelligence...in fact I doubt she would be invited to the award ceremony at all. She's not the typical teenager that just requires a little time to see things clearly, she's just plain frustratingly stupid. There is a moment where she can't figure out who the bad guy is that I gave up all hope on her making a come back. She also comes off as increasingly shallow as the book progresses. There is a romance but it's kind of pointless and a bit sappy, but the outcome while unconventional was still a bit predictable storyline-wise. Rath however was likeable and while there isn't a ton of him in the book I'm really curious about him, and I want to see more of him
The one thing that really saved this for me was the Egyptian aspect. I loved the detail involved with the soul (ka) and how the different parts are important for various reasons. I also love that there are several different types of Necromancers and that they have different abilities. Of course I loved having Anubis play a direct role in the story as well, because I'll be completely honest I'm a Anubis fan girl and all you have do is mention him in a story and you get points. I can be forgiving with the fact that Anubis is a bit...fluffy but that's only because I know he was also a patron to orphans in Egypt, so I can deal but I really wanted more strength from him. I would love to see what exactly being Anubis' Chosen means because while it's explained I wanted to see more of what she was going to have to go through.
This wasn't what I was hoping for and I was disappointed overall
on October 27, 2013
Sometime, you choose your destiny,, sometimes it chooses you, and sometimes...it's a little of both.
Undeadly is about a girl named Molly who is a necromancer-in-training. The world Molly lives in is full of people who have "pet" zombies and a world where spirits are the new "illegal" slaves. Everything is going along normally for Molly until the night of her sixteenth birthday when she has a dream/vision of Anubis and accepts his challenge to become one of his chosen. But Molly isn't just one of the chosen, she's THE chosen. Her destiny is to become Anubis' champion when Anubis' uncle Set breaks free from his prison. After having the Anubis vision, things start to go downhill; first her new love interest falls and cracks his head, then she accidently resurrects him but kind of makes a mess of it, she finds out her family isn't what she thought, and then she is shipped off to a new boarding school where students are turning up dead.
Not feeding a zombie isn't like not feeding your cat. He. Will. Eat. You. And your cat. People who forget to pick up a case of Ghoul- AID sometimes don't live to regret it. Capisce?
The beginning starts off a little slow due to all the backstory that needed telling in order to get readers up to speed but a few chapters in and things speed up. Michelle Vail does a really good job of keeping readers interested even with all the info that she has to go over and really gives the book a decent pace once things start rolling. I also loved how Michelle created a world where Molly doesn't have to hide her necro abilities from anyone. It's refreshing when a book world is set up so the characters don't have to hide who they are. Though that does change a little after she starts school.
You will sweat. You will bleed. You will ask for mercy and not get it. Get stronger. Get meaner. Get reaper.
There are a lot of surprises that turn up and a sense of mystery because there is a lot about her family and destiny that Molly doesn't know about. The end took quite a turn and the epilogue leaves you dying to know what happens. I'm excited to see where the next book takes Molly and what her relationship with Rath will evolve into. Not to mention the battles brewing between Anubis and Set. Overall it was a fantastic and exciting read that I highly recommend to fellow readers.
on December 8, 2012
The number one thing I absolutely loved about Undeadly? The world-building! In a parallel world, zombies are a usual sight, SEERs are things almost everyone has, and reapers are almost common! And all because of the battle between the Egyptian gods, Anubis and Set. The way that things were explained actually made sense (Which, trust me, is hard when you add grim reapers with Egyptian mythology) and I admit, it did bombard me with information in the beginning so I had a hard time keeping track of everything, but after a few chapters you start to understand it. Besides that, I had so much fun discovering this world where Egyptian gods were real and hey, it looks like a certain reaper is starting to fall for the champion, Chosen, and child_of Anubis. Huh.
Speaking of, the romance! The romance was...weird to say the least. I mean there was Rick, Molly's crush from when she was 15, turning 16 and there was Rath. Either way the romance was pretty awkward. I mean, no this isn't a spoiler by the way, Molly barely knew Rick and she brought him back to life, not finding it weird at all that Rick traveled all the way to her new private school (for reapers) and seems to be so madly in love and obsessive. Because that's so normal right? As for Rath, I thought it was a bit forced. They didn't actually get to know each other and yet they're starting to "like like" each other?
Plot? LOVED. It was fast-paced and everything that happened wasn't just for the heck of it. There were actually a lot of things that I could predict and while there weren't many giant plot twists, the few there were...ugh. I think my jaw became unhinged! Shocking and out-of-the-blue? Understatement for sure. I think I reread a few things. You know, just to make sure that I wasn't hallucinating!
Undeadly was a kick-butt sassy read that was so insanely fun and exciting! It's definitely one to read especially for Egyptian myth/ Zombie/ Ghost/ Action lovers! Despite the romance, Undeadly was an amazing read that you'll love! The voice actually, for once in YA, sounded like a teen's thoughts! Trust me, that's a pretty hard feat! Full of quips and soul-snatching (read it and find out) Undeadly is one you should definitely get your hands on!
on November 22, 2012
As far as debuts go, this one was pretty unique. Although I've seen the magical boarding school element before, as well as zombies, what Michele Vail managed to do here was to create a unique new setting for those two elements. I loved the idea of using Egyptian mythology here as a means for explaining zombies and the magic that is the big focal point of this new series. You don't see Egyptian mythology used a whole lot in YA series, so this was definitely a plus, and very interesting.
One of my favorite elements in this story was Molly herself. This was such a cute, funny, quirky character. I just enjoyed reading her narrative, despite what was going on in the story. It was a funny place to be, and she had such a cute way of looking at things.
Rath was a pretty good "bad boy" character that added some interesting sexual tension to the story. Although his part of the story has been a little overdone, in my view. The girl falling for the hot teacher is something I've seen a couple times before, but I think the author saved it by not making the attraction immediately mutual. It took a little bit of time for the reader to be able to tell that Rath was into her too. So that helped. Also unique was that Molly remained confused for most of the book on which guy she should be with. She gradually worked her way up to this realization, but at the same time, her feelings for the guy are not 100% reconciled by the end of this story.
Bottom line, I liked the characters, and Molly's new friends. Liked the romance aspect, and loved Molly. The only complaint I might have is that when it was all said and done, I didn't feel like very much had happened in the story. It seemed like for all those pages, all those characters, etc... there were very few actual events that occurred. It didn't put me off, however, as I know this is the first in a series, and this book was largely setup. I am looking forward to check out the next installment. A very good debut.
on November 20, 2012
I received Undeadly for review from Netgalley in return for a honest review. Molly is excited for her upcoming sweet sixteenth birthday when on the night before the party she has the fated Anubis dream. At her birthday party she meets a reaper named Rath who thinks she's odd because only reapers can see other reapers and she's not dead yet. Rath is at the party to reap a soul but not just any soul that of Molly's would be boyfriend. When Molly see's Rich crash to the ground dead she freaks and uses her necro magic to pull part of his soul and put it back inside of him saving his life she thinks. However saving his soul takes a lot out of her and she passes out to awake in her room.
Molly's father summons her downstairs where she meets for the first time her mother's parents. When she was a child her mother became estranged from her parents when they didn't see eye to eye on her choices. She also learns that the man who she's thought all this time to be her father isn't her father at all. Plus her grandparents want her to go off to Nekyia a rich boarding school to train to be a proper Necro. Molly is unhappy about leaving her friends and Rick but she's very upset about being lied to by her dad so she accepts her grandparents offer.
At Nekyia Molly has the use of the family ghoul, she's put up in one of the best dorm rooms, required to join the elite clubs, and even has special training classes with Rath. Life couldn't be better until Rick followers her to school, and bodies start showing up. Will Molly be able to figure out what's killing the students before it gets her, and will she be able to stop the set like Anubis implied.
I really enjoyed reading Undeadly, to be fair I've had it on my kindle for months I just haven't been able to bring myself to it because of all the hype I've read about it. However I was surprised it was much better than I expected. I instantly connected with Molly she's just one of those characters you can't help not liking. Then we have Rick I didn't care for him at all and I was super happy when we were introduced to Rath I really liked his character and hope for more from him. Plus how cool would it be to have the magic to make zombies? I would so want to do that even though zombies scare me. I found the book very well written it's one of those a teen would love as well as a adult. I really liked the concept of the world that the characters live in, who wouldn't want to take classes on raising the dead, it's a unique concept that I found refreshingly new. Overall it's a great first in the series and I look forward to reading more about Molly in future books.
on November 20, 2012
The first in the Reaper Diaries I was both delighted and disappointed. The premise for this urban fantasy is brilliant, but the protagonist and the choppy story-line had me shaking my head..
The tale is wrapped in Egyptian mythology and much of our history has been rewritten to include the God Anubis, reapers and zombies. Molly is ka heka necromancer. In Molly's world the existence of necromancers is common knowledge, as is magic, ghosts, ghouls and zombies. On the eve of Molly's sixteenth birthday, she has a dream in which Anubis appears and asks if she will be his chosen one. Fearful, she says, yes. The night of her birthday she experiences her first kiss and unknowingly undoes the work of another reaper named Rath. From that moment on her life drastically changes. Her world is turned upside down and she finds herself attending the Nekyia Academy; an elite school for the world's best necromancers. The tale that unfolded was fascinating. There are those who seek to aid Molly and others that wish to see Seth returned. Sounds awesome right?
Molly is an interesting characters and I struggled with her. She is bright, inquisitive, and at times fearless. She is also childish and not very well fleshed out. Her teen dialect is a smorgasbord of slang. Her use of "fine, whateves", "dude" and "total bummer" had me trapped in the nineties, and then there is the "anyway", "sigh", "ugh". Weirder still terms like mondo ick ness?!? Maybe it was an attempt to make her snarky, but sadly she came off as shallow. None of the characters were well fleshed out in this novel. Rick is the young man she is crushing on and Rath is a reaper who makes her heart flutter. There is some flirting, but no real romance. We get a couple of tender moments, which is fine and expected in an urban fantasy. Her new friends at school, sounded interested on the surface, but we never got pass that. I loved her ghoul Henry, and he was only two-dimensional. Anubis was portrayed wearing jeans and it didn't seem real. There is an evil chick with her sidekicks but it never develops. Aunts, Grandparents and teachers make appearances and we begin to get a sense of their roles. All of the characters had potential and I was disappointed that I never really got to know them
The premise to this series is fascinating and I loved the world but it never became more than just a story for me. We get an information dump in the beginning and then gain knowledge through Molly's journal entries. Quotes from history texts appear at the top of each chapter, and provide historical information. The tale itself surrounds the history of Anubis and Set, the God of Chaos and I loved this aspect of the book. A great battle was fought and Set was captured and imprisoned by Anubis in the underworld. It is prophesied that he will escape bringing a great war and that one of Anubis's Chosen will defeat him. We get snip-bits of our history shared with the added twist of zombies and seers. Molly slowly learns about her reaping abilities and begins training and I enjoyed this thread. There are some tense moments and she discovers who is plotting against Anubis. For every question answered however more were left unanswered. Despite issues with characters, a choppy story-line and the way in which information was provided I enjoyed it enough to continue reading. Things kind of wrapped up and then in one chapter the author dumps a cliffhanger on us. orginially posted at Caffeinated Book Reviwer dot com
on November 20, 2012
All Molly had ever wanted was to be a normal teenager, well at least as normal as a zombie-raiser can really be. But on her sixteenth birthday everything gets turned upside down. In one day she dreams of the god Anubis and accepts his reaper abilities, raises her almost boyfriend from the dead, gets shipped off to a school specifically for reapers, and learns she is a legend. Suddenly being normal is a thing of the past as she is whisked through training at a break neck speed. With students losing their souls left and right, and Molly seeming to hold the key, there just isn't time for an easy transition into this new life.
As much as I found the premise of this book to be intriguing, I'll be honest that I had serious doubts that I would be able to finish this book. Molly's "voice" was incredibly annoying and grated on my nerves to the point where I literally had to force myself to keep reading. She uses valley girl slang like it is necessary to the air she breathes. Perhaps I could have overlooked they way she talked if it hadn't of drastically spilled over into the narrative as well. It's one thing for her to talk like that to other people if that was her personality, but when it was the entirety of the book, it just became way too much. In all honestly Molly's whole personality felt rather forced, almost as if the author was trying too hard to achieve an authentic teenage voice. This may not be the case, and the author may have intended Molly to come across the way she did, but it just didn't work for me, especially when she seemed to become more and more of an airhead by the end. Adding into the my problem with Molly was that the additional characters were not really substantial and rather two dimensional in my opinion, so they didn't provide any decent distraction. Perhaps in all actuality they were more developed than they seemed, but I really couldn't see past Molly's overwhelming character and portrayal of the other characters.
This book's saving grace and the only reason it did not become a DNF for me was because I was thoroughly intrigued by the premise behind the story. It almost seemed like a zombie version of the Mythos Academy books by Jennifer Estep. But unlike those books, Undeadly features an "open" world where everyone knows about the paranormal, in this case, the zombies. I've always been drawn to this type of world as I feel there as so many possibilities when secrecy isn't an issue. There is just a whole lot of potential there, and it's just a shame that the narrator stood in the way in this case.
In all honesty I was debating between a two and three rating for this book. As much as I enjoyed the world behind the story and the potential it held, considering the fact that I had to keep forcing myself to continue on with the story due to my issues with the characters I just can't give it higher than a two. As far as continuing on with the series, it's highly unlikely that I will, unless my curiosity about what happens after that cliffhanger winds up getting the best of me. Depending on reading preferences, this book could turn out to be an enjoyable read, but for me, it's a pass.
If you're looking for a new adult book trend, check out the genre Reapers ... that's right, scythes, death and oftentimes a young adult hero/heroine learning about the other side of life. You can find Reaper books, such as this one, on the YA shelves featuring scythes and hoodies.
What it's about: Molly (named after actress Molly Ringwald) is a Necro. She lives in an alternate reality where necromancing and zombies have always been around. The Egyptian god Anubis (the book has the full history) gifted some humans with power over the dead. There are a lot of Necros, but not everyone has that gift. Unfortunately, Molly has a bit more than average when Anubis comes to her in a dream and asks her to serve him. From there she learns her dad isn't her biological father, her aunt is trapped as a soul shadow and she has to go to a special and privileged boarding school for rich Necros. There's mystery, a snobby mean girl and two love interests.
Why you should read it: What I loved about the book was that the Reapers genre is fresh and Michele added her own twist with the Egyptian lore. It was all very well explained through Molly's diary and excerpts of history books. I also loved that the two love interests weren't real love interests in this first novel. She likes Rick, but (I won't spoil it!) that doesn't pan out, and Rath is still a mystery, but she hasn't even kissed him. What was OK about the book was the typical flavoring it had with the rich boarding school, the heroine's life changing dramatically and rapidly, and no real villain. Her aunt alludes that her master is Set (opposite of Anubis), and I suppose he's the real villain, but right now it feels more as though he's the mysterious presence in the wings. The writing is good, and the book made me want to check out the second one, Unchosen, which comes out next year.
To see what Michele says about Undeadly Check out the HEA Blog