First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.
The most noticeable thing when starting this book was the style of writing for the way the main character, Charley Davidson, speaks. The story is presented in first person and the way she talks is very... distinct. It's as if the character is trying to present herself as bold and witty, but doesn't always succeed. Sometimes it's funny, very funny, and others I find myself just shaking my head at the attempt. It's just too much of that, and not enough plot progression.
Around the half-way point for the book, I got really, really tired of Charley's attitude. She would say something that sounded (almost) sincere, in her narration, and then end it with "Not". That, to me, is very childlike behavior. I was under the impression she was in her late twenties, as a P.I., and out of college. Charley acts far younger than her age and experiences suggest, and this makes it difficult to relate to her.
Sadly, I was skimming through much of the novel - especially the chapters that contained nothing but dialogue. Charley and her best friend, Cookie, sit in a room as Charley relays memories of her own childhood. The action we get are Cookie's widening eyes, tense posture, or slight movements as she tries to feed herself. (But is just too enthralled by Charley's story!) Yes, the information is important.. but sharing it this way is incredibly boring.
Charley also lacks any real emotions and appears to be is a constant state of lusting, snarky, sarcastic, or pissed off. She is constantly getting beat up between her moments of (unreasonable and unexplained) rudeness to other certain characters. There is a huge lack in personality in all other characters, as well - we are not given much at all in regards of who they are and what motivates their world. This is why I say Charley has unreasonable reactions - she is rude and nasty to Swopes, a coworker, and we are given nothing to back it up. Who is he? Why does Charley hate him?
And then we have Reyes, the Love Interest. Apparently, he's Hot. And our Charley is totally in lust with him because he is Hot and Mysterious. Most chapters deal with her feelings for him, which are always the same. Something about weak knees, swirls in her abdomen, and an intense heat. In the end, he's a Mysterious character with Mysterious motives and is surrounded in Mystery. It's very repetitive.
First Grave on the Right is still an "alright" read. It's simple, it's quick, and there was enough to keep me reading - if only to just figure out where it's all leading. However, unless the second book is a major improvement over the first, I highly doubt I would want to read it. It is definitely a taste I have not acquired.
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