Estelle: Death & the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones

Death and the Girl Next DoorDeath & the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones
Book 1 of Darklight series (trilogy)
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 304
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: paranormal, missing parents, high school, forbidden love
Format read: ARC from Netgalley (Thanks!)

Summary: It’s coming upon the 10th anniversary since Lorelei’s parents vanished without a trace. With her sophomore year of high school underway, things get interesting when the hot and mysterious Jared shows up at school, and she realizes one of her fellow students is stalking her. Lorelei’s life is definitely about to change…

Loreli is pretty much your average teenager. She’s sarcastic, she has two great best friends (Brooklyn and Glitch) who she trades short jokes with and gets much support from, and lives with her adorable grandparents (I like Grandpa best!) who have taken her in since her parents’ disappearance.

But the similarities between Loreli and the reader pretty much end here.

She has a fellow classmate named Cameron following her. Loreli’s “quirk” is sparked when she bumps into Jared, a new kid at her school that she can’t take her eyes off of. Then there’s the fact that Cameron and Jared are like fire and ice when they are thrown into the same room together.

The big question is Why?

Jones has taken on an intriguing premise filled with angels and devils and heaven and hell, but unfortunately she may have been a bit over ambitious. For the most part, the novel is very slow-paced and there is a lack of the breadcrumbs placed throughout the story to move it along and build up to this satisfying climax. Instead big chunks of information are given to readers in various spots and the suspense and feeling of ohh-ahh discovery is lost.

While I did chuckle a few times at the exchanges between Loreli and her friends, their tone seemed mostly juvenile. I know they were only sophmores in high school, but when Jared seemed to embody the older tone and mannerisms of a Harlequin hunk, the difference was amplified even more.

Structurally, I keep wondering if this book would have worked better told from different POVs (Loreli, Jared, and Cameron) so readers could get more of a handle on this “secret” world, their ties to one another, and their individual histories. And character wise, I felt like the friendship between Loreli and her friends always trumped the romantical entanglements, when love was so central to the plot.

Even though paranormal isn’t a genre I frequently visit, I know that I can easily get swept up in a book with strong characters and a well-planned out plot line. I wished that had been the case here, but, instead, I felt like I was going through the motions without being invested in what was happening. And as the first in a three-book series, this doesn’t fare well for me to continue.

It hurts my heart to say it, but not every book can be a winner.

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8 thoughts on “Estelle: Death & the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones

  1. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    Estelle, I think you did a good job of explaining what didn’t work for you in this book. The summary for this one does sound intriguing and something I would pick up, but after reading your review I may wait on it.

  2. Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books says:

    I really like how you expressed your thoughts on this book. The premise sounds quite mysterious, but I do appreciate the warning about the information being clumped together and the story itself not being too… intriguing is the best word I can think of.

  3. VeganYANerds says:

    I wasn’t going to request this and then a couple of positive reviews changed my mind but I’ve been hesitant to read it and now I have some good reasons why thanks to your review, hun! This does sound a little disappointing, and I have an issue with really young characters with the odd older character thrown in who sounds like a guy from a romance novel – it’s odd!

    Great review, Estell!

  4. Kristen Evey says:

    Once again, a fabulous review. I actually haven’t heard of this one yet, but judging just by the premise I probably wouldn’t have read it. It takes something REALLY special to get me to read paranormal nowadays (or a rave review by someone I trust). Sad when books are not all you thought they would be, but you’re right, we can’t like every book we read unfortunately.

  5. Lori says:

    I haven’t heard much about this one, but I think I’m going to do just what your ratings says and skip it. I don’t read paranormal much either. It has to be from an author that I already love or something that has spectacular reviews already.

    Great review, Estelle!

  6. elena says:

    aw, i’m sorry this book didn’t work for you (i would definitely be annoyed by the juvenile aspects) but i think this is a fair & honest review! i’m not the biiiiggest paranormal fan so i doubt this would change it.

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