2012: #18 – Once Dead, Twice Shy (Kim Harrison)

Title: Once Dead, Twice Shy
Author: Kim Harrison
Series: Madison Avery #01
Format: Audio
Length: 6 hrs 3 min
Release Date: April 19, 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Categories: young adult, paranormal
Source:  personal copy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Back of the book:

Madison’s prom was killer—literally. For some reason she’s been targeted by a dark reaper—yeah, that kind of reaper—intent on getting rid of her, body and soul. But before the reaper could finish the job, Madison was able to snag his strange, glowing amulet and get away.

Now she’s stuck on Earth—dead but not gone. Somehow the amulet gives her the illusion of a body, allowing her to toe the line between life and death. She still doesn’t know why the dark reaper is after her, but she’s not about to just sit around and let fate take its course.

With a little ingenuity, some light-bending, and the help of a light reaper (one of the good guys! Maybe . . . ), her cute crush, and oh yeah, her guardian angel, Madison’s ready to take control of her own destiny once and for all, before it takes control of her.

Well, if she believed in that stuff.

My thoughts:

This is Kim Harrison’s first series since her Rachel Morgan series, and being such a huge fan of that one I had to give this a shot. This is a young adult series, so I expected the tone and writing style to be different. It was, but the things that make Harrison’s writing so good were still there – color characters, interesting sidekicks, and a compelling new world.

At first glance, Madison’s world is just like ours. Except, she’s dead. Now, she’s trying to keep from the clutches of the dark reaper who didn’t finish his job, all while learning how to become a reaper herself.

In many ways, this reminded me of the (much too short) Showtime series Dead Like Me, about a group of reapers out to save the souls of the recently departed. But not completely. Madison is a softer lead character than the bitter, sarcastic George of the TV series, and there is more of a good vs. evil feel to the book.

Overall, I enjoyed listening to this, but I do have one major complaint. When the book opens, you are thrown into the story without any real explanation of what’s going on. This is something Harrison does very well in the Rachel Morgan series, but in this case I just felt like I was missing something. So much so that I double-checked that I wasn’t listening to the second book by mistake. I really could have used a slower introduction into what was going on.

I’m not sure if this will end up being as fantastic as the Rachel Morgan series, but I will certainly read on!

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | IndieBound | WorldCat

Other reviews:

  • “Absolutely fantastic – Madison Avery just might be my new favorite YA Urban Fantasy heroine. An engaging, original read and easily a notable read of 2009. Highly recommended.”The Book Smugglers
  • ” If you can make it through the slower first part of the book, I think you’ll really enjoy this read.”The Sweetie Chronicles
  • “Where is the strongly written, fully fleshed out female heroine I know Harrison is capable of writing?  I can barely believe Kim Harrison wrote this.  I want to make a thousand excuses for her – editing pressures, rushed deadlines, misleading advice?”The Blog of Litwits

Past reviews:

2011: Rocket Surgery Made Easy (Steve Krug)
2010: Anthem (Ayn Rand)
2009: China Lake (Meg Gardiner)
2008: Triptych (Karin Slaughter)
2007: Fool Moon (Jim Butcher)
2006: Incubus Dreams (Laurell K. Hamilton)
2005: The Big Bad Wolf (James Patterson)

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