Format: Hardcover | 384 pages
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Description (Goodreads): "Till death
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."
And... here's yet another book that turned out to be a bit different from what I was expecting (I really should start paying more attention to book synopsis'). You know, with the whole 'dead school' business, I thought the main character was going to be learning to control supernatural powers and all.
Well, I was wrong. "Dead Rules" is more of a creepy, horror-ish story about how love can be obsessive and destructive. The whole setting reminded me of "Angel Beats" which was nice since I loved the whole "school-for-dead-teenagers" idea that was presented in the anime.
This book explores the same concept; Jana Webster died in a freak bowling accident and ended up in "dead school". Why, it's unclear but apparently dying doesn't exempt one from finishing high school. Of course "dead school" is not like regular school... or at least the classes aren't; the social division seems to be pretty similar.
But Jana isn't interested in any of that. She only wants Michael, her perfect boyfriend to join her... in death. And she'll do whatever it takes to make sure she gets her wish.
So... good concept, yes? A strange school where the teachers teach weird things and people are almost literally divided into "most and less likely to succeed" groups. What they must achieve, however, is a mystery - although it's not difficult to guess.
Pity the author decided to focus the story on Jana's love life. Don't get me wrong, he does it a lot better than most YA authors. The romance is certainly believable and Jana's unhealthy obsession is portrayed in a chillingly realistic manner. But... the world is so interesting I almost resented the author's choice of plot. I think he could have done a lot more with the story if Jana had tried to understand her new life and the purpose of the school instead of spending the entire book trying to contact her boyfriend.
Even if the book doesn't tell the story I most wanted to read about I still liked it. Russell created brilliant, original main characters - Jana and Mars - who are very different from your usual protagonists. This book is very character-driven and it works mainly because although Jana is creepy and slightly off her rocker we still empathize with her a bit as she is inherently nice even if she's... well, crazy.
Mars is another surprise. He seems like your typical "bad boy" character but is so much more.
Overall, "Dead Rules" was a fun, almost compulsive read. I liked the idea behind the book but the execution could have been better.