When I received my copy of Death and the Girl Next Door, I was expecting a fun, sexy thrill ride; however, what I got was something quite different - a book that, despite a fabulous premise, never delivers anything beyond a mediocre read. While I did enjoy some of the characters, and thought parts of the plot were really interesting, overall Darynda Jone's first YA book was a let down for me.
Main character Lorelei starts off promising - she's sassy around her friends, yet melts into the mold seen too often in a YA lead female - uninteresting and insecure, who makes consistently rash decisions in order to have the guy she knows isn't good for her. I was really disappointed in Lorelei, but still willing to give her a chance. But as soon as Jared (the love interest) entered the picture, she went weak-kneed and never recovered. The flashes of spirit and vivaciousness were gone, and Lorelei lacked anything, any character trait, to set her apart. Her romance with Jared, while definitely forbidden, felt cardboard and stereotypical. I never cheered for them, never feared they wouldn't overcome their obstacles; they're THAT vanilla romance that you know, unfortunately, will prevail. They had a great deal of conflict, but it was just forced, fast, and undeveloped, just like their feelings for each other. The one good thing I can say is, at least there was no love triangle; ironically, I felt Lorelei was SO much better matched with the one guy who WASN'T falling all over her.
The plot held some originality, which I really liked, but over the course of Death, faded into familiar tropes, and the big "reveals" were things I could have predicted. And while there were some great, witty portions of this novel, by the end, I had to refrain from sighing in disappointment. For such a short novel, I felt like the climax was really rushed. I did like the secondary characters - Cameron, Brooke, and Glitch, and look forward to finding out more about them. I'll read the sequel...but I hope it's a library book.