Crown Books for Young Readers
September 29, 2015
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A darkly funny and literary debut novel about a dead boy named Crow who has a chance at friendship - and a chance at getting his life back
Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a life.
Crow Darlingson died in the 4th grade. But he’s still alive. And growing, actually. He can’t eat or taste anything, his body parts sometimes fall off (mom always sews them back on, though), and he’s only allowed to leave his house once per year, on Halloween.
Crow’s parents are separating, and despite their reassurances, he’s pretty sure it’s his fault. After all, having an undead son can’t be much easier than being one. Sneaking out at night only makes things worse, but he can’t resist the chance at a real friendship with Melody Plympton, the new girl next door, who loves mystery more than she minds the stink of his flesh or the maggots that sometimes crawl out of his nose.
Together they investigate the mysterious Meera - a monster living in the nearby park. Logic and fear tell Crow to stay away, but fuzzy memories lure him on. When Crow and Melody venture into its underground lair, Crow’s not just risking the half-life he clings to. He’s also risking the only friend he’s had in years.
The importance of friendship is crystallized as Crow and Melody face tests of loyalty, courage, and honor in this macabre middle grade novel by a debut author.
Laurel Gale's Dead Boy is a snarky, humorous, thoughtful tale. Crow Darlington is dead. Only, he didn't stay quite as dead as one would expect. He is back, living with his mother and continuing to grow. He's not alive, though.
I really enjoyed that Gale did not shy away from some of the more, well, disgusting parts of someone being dead but living. Crow is rotting; he smells, his hair is falling out, he has maggots. It is not a particularly pleasant sight - or smell.
With his life limited to inside his home, with his mother, Crow misses the things he used to have, like friends. When Crow is introducing us to his story, it is (darkly) funny. We find out the things he used to enjoy and be good at . . . until he died.
While it is honest and connects you with the character, a few places seem to need a, "womp womp,' soundtrack. Crow's dislike of his isolation (and being dead) work even better when Melody's character and her friendship are introduced.
I thought that her character fit the circumstances very well. She has her own interesting story, background and beliefs. It makes it more than believable that she would befriend the dead boy next door.
The magical parts of the story and the Meera were fun. They show us more of Crow's character and his abilities and talents. The quest Crow and Melody go on does a lot to show us - and them - things about each other and themselves. I liked the magic, what it revealed about the characters and the thought behind it all.
The choices Crow, Melody and the other characters have to make, what is learned about friendship, love, loyalty and integrity are nicely done and integrated into the story.
|(If you've seen Corrina, Corrina, Crow's mother reminds me of Joan Cusack's character in that movie:)
digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley