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Dead Set: A Novel Paperback – 20 Nov 2014
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“A dark and eerie world, a razor sharp plot, and a heroine worth rooting for make DEAD SET unforgettable.” (Kami Garcia)
“If punk and underworld mythology got into the mosh pit, it would come out something like this book; spiky and pretty with lashings of black eyeliner and its heart tattooed on its sleeve.” (Lauren Beukes)
“A fantastic supernatural horror novel with deep punk roots ... Kadrey’s underworld is a gloomy mirror of the overworld with all its injustice and broken dreams, and Zoe’s battle with her fear and her honorable spirit put her in enough jeopardy for six novels. (Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing)
“Kadrey again has painted a world that draws you in with its mysterious, yet frightening, beauty…The imagery is just phenomenal.” (Crimespree Magazine)
“An intelligent stand-alone tale of quiet horror that should appeal to Kadrey’s many fans, as well as to lovers of more subtle shivers.” (Library Journal)
“This bittersweet and elegaic fantasy will appeal to both fantasy fans and mainstream readers.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A tender, if terrifying, story of a lost teenager trying to find her way.” (Los Angeles Times)
From the Back Cover
After her father's funeral, Zoe moved to the big city with her mother to start over. But change always brings trials, and money is tight. Zoe's only escape, as always, is in her dreams—a world apart from her troubled real life where she can spend time with her lost brother Valentine.
But something or someone has entered their dream world uninvited. And a chance encounter at a used-record store where the vinyl holds not music, but lost souls, has opened up a portal to the world of the restless dead. It's here that the shop's strange proprietor offers Zoe the chance to commune with her dead father. The price? A lock of hair. Then a tooth. Then. . . .See all Product description
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The story is about Zoe, a teenager who has lost her father recently. She's living in an apartment in San Francisco with her mother and the situation is not great. They're both in a period of mourning and their home life is in flux. Zoe is attending a new school away from her friends and adrift. She happens to wander past an odd record shop which leads her on an adventure into a weird world. Yes, that's vague but I'd rather not give the book away.
Dead Set asks a few questions of Zoe and the reader. What would you do if you could have a chance to talk to someone you loved again? Would you take that risk? That's the question that Zoe has to ask herself and I found it really fascinating. What if you have the chance to have some closure? What would you do? Zoe gets the chance to ask that question on her journey in a very visceral world.
Overall, I was surprised how compelled I was to finish this book. I'd recommend highly. A good story from a good author.
After the death of her father, Zoe and her mother relocate to San Francisco to try to start their life anew. With the lack of jobs and trying to fit in at a new school, life is hard. Add on to it an insurance company that refuses to pay out, and Zoe and her mom are struggling to just get by.
The only time Zoe finds any release is in her dreams where she shares time with her truest friend Valentine. Her parents have always believed that Valentine was just Zoe imaginary friend but to Zoe he is much more. He is her friend, her confidant, her only stable pillar in a world that has left her behind with the loss of her father.
After school one day Zoe wanders into an old record store and there, with the mysterious proprietor Emmett, she stumbles upon a machine that plays the recorded lives of the dead. In her hands she holds the vinyl memory of her father and for a price, she can reach out to him. With the help of Emmett, Zoe visits a place called Iphigene, a way station for the dead. There she finds her father.
But all is not as it seems and despite the warnings from Valentine, Zoe fights to save her father. But she cannot revive the dead and Iphigene is not what it seems. Emmett is not what he seems. And all dreams come with a price.
Dead Set is a fast moving novel of despair and the hopelessness of a young girl's loss. Zoe sets out on an impossible quest to help her father but we know through it all it really just about her own pain that she is easing. Kadrey infuses the novel with enough light to give substance to belief that Zoe must go forward but the overwhelming feel to the book is one of loss and despair.
Dead Set lacks the grittiness and visceral violence of the Sandman Slim series and it is evident that Kadrey reigned himself in on Dead Set to make it fit the genre. But what separates Dead Set most from the Sandman Slim novels is the missing humor. The witticism and snarky remarks from Sandman Slim are absent from the main character Zoe in Dead Set. From her they come of as bitter and self-pitying.
Kadrey creates a real world in Iphigene and its inhabitants. Egyptian mysticism and supernatural creatures fill its streets. There is danger all around and Zoe must summon all her strength and courage to fight through it. It is Dorothy and Oz but set in the dark and mean streets of the inner city. Zoe does well and she grows through the story as she must fight for her father and in the end for herself just to survive.
Another good read from Richard Kadrey.
It's a decent read, and it's got some of his hallmarks - the grimy, rotten punk take on what happens after you die; just like Butcher Bird (I would love a sequel to that) or the Sandman Slim series.
The story moved a little slowly for my taste and the main character was somewhat hard for me to relate to. But maybe that's just my luck in life. Young, hurt and angry, she's a little too dense for her own good at times, but she muddles through.
Long story short, not his best. But that's a tall order, anyway.
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