This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Penguin Random House Audio
Released on May 8, 2018
I took one look at the title and blurb and thought this would be a fun one. An amateur teen witch brings her BFF and a few others back to life to help her solve their murders? Yep, my speed of zombie shenanigans.
Undead Girl Gang starts at the funeral for Mila’s best friend, Riley, who supposedly committed suicide just like two other girls at the school. Mila isn’t buying it and not because she’s in denial. Nope, she knew her friend and nothing about this added up. Happening upon a spellbook mysteriously left for her to find is a game changer and Mila goes for it and brings the dead back to… well undead life for a short period of time. Not without a few issues. They are nothing like real zombies so long as they stay close to Mia, but outside the tether range and they are stinking, rotting corpses. The other girls are taking this in their usual stride, but Riley is more contemplative and distant. Mia thought they could solve the murder quickly, but the zombie girls have memory loss for the more recent events.
Mila plays detective, negotiates high school where her suspects are, and tries to figure out what to do with her long time crush on Riley’s dreamy brother, Xan. She’s outside of the usual teen groups and has a wry, jaded outlook average girl thing going as her armor against getting hurt in the cut throat teen ‘verse. Mila had a reason to be somewhat defensive as a Latina Wiccan on the husky side. I liked Mia’s voice in this one even if she comes across as angry and her snark goes over the line a few times for me. She shutdown other people at times and wasn’t exactly fair, but I didn’t feel she was vicious about it. Though, yes, I wanted to give her a shake now and then just like I did with a few others, at times.
There are some good twists to the murder mystery, but I had to adjust to the fact that this book is only somewhat a YA murder mystery with a unique paranormal twist, but a lot of it is also YA contemporary in feel as Mia and the other teens negotiate high school, teen life, character flaws, emerging maturity, friendship, and love. I can get impatient with this sort of thing, but the way the author wrote the flawed yet engaging characters and the humorous plot kept me pulled in so I was interested in all of it together and not just the paranormal murder mystery. The ending got exciting and I was all wrong with my guess.
I experienced Undead Girl Gang in MP3 format and it was my first jaunt with Rebecca Soler as narrator. She was a great match for this book. I loved her work from the start when she’s voicing Mia’s inner thoughts at the funeral and then goes on to capture the others, too. She got the teen voices down pat from both genders and the adults. She hits the comedic pacing and also the moments that got serious just right. I was right in the middle of this story and fully engaged as a result of her excellent work. I’ll have to watch for more of her work.
All in all, this was a great first outing with author and narrator. I loved the fun and clever take on zombies and witchcraft, teen life, and a good mystery. I’ll have to watch for more by this author. Those who might hold back because of the zombie element, no worries. Its mild and not even the most important focus. Actually, I think this will have broad appeal with paranormal, mystery, and contemporary YA elements.
My thanks to Penguin Random House audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.
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