Sunday, May 3, 2015

REVIEW: Grunge Gods and Graveyards / Kimberly G. Giarratano

TITLE: Grunge Gods and Graveyards
AUTHOR: Kimberly G. Giarratano
PUBLISHER: Red Adept Publishing
AVAILABILITY: Purchase links on publisher's website

Young Adult - Paranormal

Being someone who spends a good deal of time dealing with legal/compliance people, I know how important disclosures are, so here they are, up top where everyone can see: the publisher of Grunge Gods and Graveyards is also the publisher of two books of mine, Artificial Absolutes and Synthetic Illusions. However, neither they nor Kimberly asked me to buy, read, or review this book, which I did entirely on my own. All opinions expressed are mine, mine, mine.

Now that I've got that over and done with, I can finally let out my cry of, "I loved this book!!!" Seriously, I don't know why I waited so long to read it, because once I opened it up, I couldn't stop. Blew through the first half in a day and finished the rest shortly after. It's got everything I love about young adult fiction - snappy dialogue, tight plot, high stakes, high drama, and all those teenager feeeeeeels. Plus a touch of nostalgia for the nineties.

Grunge Gods and Graveyards is like Ghost (the Patrick Swayze movie) meets Veronica Mars. 17-year-old Lainey Bloom is devastated when the boy she loves is killed in a hit-and-run, so when his spirit returns to her as a ghost, it's a bittersweet reunion. Then, she learns that there's more to his death than a simple accident. Determined to uncover the truth, Lainey tangles with the power players in her town and winds up in a lot more trouble than she bargained for. Meanwhile, she also has to deal with the everyday hardships of being a not-so-popular teenager - mean girls at school, condescending authority figures, a rift with her best friend.

As a shameless consumer of all things teenager-y (never mind that I haven't been one myself for a while), this book really hit the spot for me. It was both entertaining and beautifully tragic, with its combination of Veronica Mars-style mystery with Ghost-style paranormal romance. Everyone loves an underdog, and it's easy to root for Lainey as she slogs through circumstances she could never have prepared for. Lainey's mix of spunky edge and vulnerability make her both sympathetic and relatable. She's got her fair share of flaws, and that makes her character all the more interesting.

The book also boasts a colorful cast of supporting characters, from Lainey's appropriately named punkish best friend Wilder to her former bad girl sister Liz to manipulative mean girl Wynter. And then there's the romantic lead, Danny, who is perfectly swoon-worthy with his confident charm. Oh, and he's in a 90s grunge band and speaks Spanish (he's Mexican - bonus points for diversity!). It's not hard to see why Lainey fell hard for him, and their tragic-sweet moments together bring out all the feels.

The setting could be a character itself - a small town in the 90s with a distinctive graveyard. This book really captures the spirit of the era and the insular nature of small-town life. Both the descriptions and the way in which circumstances are woven in really bring it to life.

All in all, an awesome read, and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys young adult fiction.

Kimberly G. Giarratano, a forever Jersey girl, now lives in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and small children. A former teacher and YA librarian, Kimberly adores Etsy, Jon Stewart, The Afghan Whigs, ’90s nostalgia, and (of course) everything YA. She also speaks Spanish, but is woefully out of practice.

Kimberly always dreamed of being a published author. Her other dream is to live in Key West, Florida where she can write in a small studio, just like Hemingway.

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