Russell’s debut young adult novel is by far the most unique story I’ve read in quite a while! It’s dark, twisted, and funny! I agree with other reviewers that it’s like Heathers and Beetlejuice meets Romeo and Juliet.
In Russell’s depiction of the afterlife, kids go to Dead School where they’re divided into groups determined by how they behaved on earth and how they died. Also, how they use their time in school can influence where they end up once they graduate. I really found this intriguing and enjoyed learning all the quirks of being dead. Especially how you’re forever in the state of how you died – injury, facial expression, hair, etc..
Dead Rules has a great cast of characters, each unique with their own story. Mars and Wyatt were my favorites. Mars is the “bad boy”, yet really sweet, and I loved how he was trying to redeem himself. Wyatt was funny and endearing. Sadly, the protagonist Jana annoyed me to no end. I just couldn’t relate to her idealization of Romeo and Juliet and her blind obsession with her boyfriend, Michael. Her need to be attached to someone to feel worthwhile, and insistence to call herself “Jana of Webster and Haynes”, even in death, drove me bonkers. I realize her family situation caused her to latch on to her boyfriend, but to that extreme, I found it unrealistic. Eventually I was able to just go with it, and enjoyed watching her grow as a character.
Dead Rules is a fun, quick, and entertaining read. The quirkiness of the characters and unique aspects of being dead will keep you turning the pages!