Review Blog

Apr 30 2012

Dead, actually by Kaz Delaney

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2012. ISBN 978
(Ages: 12+) Recommended. Humour. When Willow leaves work one night, she happens upon a car accident, in which JoJo, the top A-lister at school, is killed. Shortly after she begins to receives overtures of friendship from JoJo's friends and ex boyfriends, so knows something is very wrong. She baulks at going to the funeral but is finally convinced when JoJo's ghost appears in her room, telling her that she must find out who murdered her. Willow is gobsmacked, she was definitely not one of that crowd, and despised JoJo and her friends for their vanity and superficial lifestyle, but she does not want JoJo's belligerent ghost living in her bedroom for any longer than is absolutely necessary.
There follows a truly funny modern ghost story, morphing into a crime thriller with a light touch of romance. Willow and her friend, Macey, who she tells about the ghost, in case she is truly going out of her mind, and Macey's brother, Seth, who admits being blackmailed by JoJo, lend a hand. The trio works the crowd at the appalling wake after the funeral, complete with the JoJo's friends dressed as black angels; gathering information, watching for clues, listening to gossip.
At the same time, Willow is trying to protect her parents from a sleaze who is attempting to take their money, while the love of her life, Seth, suggests they pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend to winkle out information from JoJo's friends.
All told with the tongue firmly in a cheek, this very funny story is set against a sleazy wealthy community in coastal Queensland, amongst a group of girls we often see portrayed in teen movies. Their idiosyncratic behaviour is neatly portrayed, their empty lifestyle nicely judged while the integrity and strength of the three sleuths makes a stunning point of comparison. JoJo redeems herself at the last minute, providing a neat resolution to the whole funny story.
Fran Knight

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