Holy catfish, there’s so much going on for the Bookanistas lately!
2. The cover of Elana Johnson’s POSSESSION has been revealed. I urge you to stop by Beth Revis’ and Jamie Harrington’s blogs to check it out. It’s stunning and makes me want to cry a little for all the books that don’t have covers quite as gorgeous.
3. Lisa Roecker is about to have her baby and is going on maternity leave from blogging. So Laura will be
hijacking going solo until Lisa’s return, much to Lisa’s dismay relief. Check out the hilarious announcement.
4. ARCS of Beth’s ACROSS THE UNIVERSE are now out!!! Yahoo!!!!! I cannot wait to get my hands on this book (Hint hint, Razorbill)
5. Christine Fonseca’s book EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS is coming out on FRIDAY!!!!!! Yahoo!! So excited for her. Can’t wait to read her book.
6. I don’t really have a sixth. Just be sure to check out what some of the other Bookanistas are raving about today:
And now, for my Thursday Bookanistas review:
IN THE END WE ALL FADE TO BLACK.
Pink-haired Hilda and oddball loner Benji are not your typical teenagers. Instead of going to parties or hanging out at the mall, they comb the city streets and suburban culs-de-sac of Los Angeles for sites of celebrity murder and suicide. Bound by their interest in the macabre, Hilda and Benji neglect their schoolwork and their social lives in favor of prowling the most notorious crime scenes in Hollywood history and collecting odd mementos of celebrity death.
Hilda and Benji’s morbid pastime takes an unexpected turn when they meet Hank, the elderly, reclusive tenant of a dilapidated Echo Park apartment where a silent movie star once stabbed himself to death with a pair of scissors. Hilda feels a strange connection with Hank and comes to care deeply for her paranoid new friend as they watch old movies together and chat the sweltering afternoons away. But when Hank’s downstairs neighbor Jake, a handsome screenwriter, inserts himself into the equation and begins to hint at Hank’s terrible secrets, Hilda must decide what it is she’s come to Echo Park searching for . . . and whether her fascination with death is worth missing out on life.
The thing is, you can’t go into a book like this expecting rainbows, unicorns, and bubble gum language. The (amazing) cover tells us this, but so does the description of the premise, the central focus of which is death and Hollywood. And let me just say, Hollywood has to be the most perfect setting for teenagers obsessed with death. Yes, the story was a bit creepy at times—several scenes gave me the shivers, yet I couldn’t wait to turn to the next chapter.
I’ll be straight up with you, though. This book is seriously edgy for the teen category. It will likely give you pause and should open the door to discussion between teens and the old farts in their lives. BUT. Given the subject matter, I think it almost had to be in order for it to feel authentic. You have two teenagers obsessed with celebrity deaths, both of them living in a jaded, LA environment. They ain’t listening to the Jonas Brothers, yo. But this book is so much more than death and Hollywood. JOHN BELUSHI IS DEAD illustrates the very gray space that teenagers exist in, that period in time we question all we’ve ever believed, learning for the first time that not every question has an answer and not every answer is one we can stomach. Their regular visits to sites of grizzly celebrity murders are just a manifestation of their desire to understand death, the ultimate bane of our existence.
For Hilda, this macabre obsession is especially poignant. Her pain isn’t obvious at first, though you know from the get-go that there is something really powerful lying beneath the surface. But we quickly learn that at a very young age, in the most horrifying of ways, Hilda has been forced to confront her own mortality, and we realize that beneath the pink hair and the goth appearance lies a little girl who can’t make sense of what has happened to her. So she delves into a world of darkness searching for answers, attaching herself to a creepy dude that seems to get where she’s coming from. It’s all a bit morose, but it’s also that morbid part of her nature that draws the reader in—it helps us understand the demons she’s harboring, even though Hilda herself doesn’t seem to understand why she is the way she is.
But along the way, Hilda begins to comprehend the true nature of her demons—and that she’s not alone in having them. We see a romance blossom and a friendship form in the most unlikely of places. And in the process, she is forced to confront her fascination with death and the effect it has had on her ability to live.
JOHN BELUSHI IS DEAD is such an emotional book that pulls you in and makes you fall in love with Hilda—laugh with her and hurt for her. Every one of the characters was compelling and genuine, but Hilda is a true star, stealing the show. She is so authentic and her voice almost intoxicating. I was so drawn in by her. Like with a train wreck, I found myself morbidly interested in those grizzly deaths—I was creeped out, yes, but intrigued nonetheless because she was, and I felt invested in her. But there’s more to the story than its compelling characters. JOHN BELUSHI IS DEAD touched on the most basic human desire to live, while also forcing us to consider the nondiscriminatory nature of death:
In the end, we all fade to black.
That’s some heavy stuff, no? It’s eerie and a little sad, and yet…oddly comforting, sort of like JOHN BELUSHI IS DEAD. Read it. Be moved by it. Talk about it.
JOHN BELUSHI IS DEAD is now available .