A darkly funny and literary debut novel about a dead boy named Crow who has a chance at friendship—and a chance at getting his life back.
About the Book
Title: Dead Boy | Author: Laurel Gale | Publication Date: September 29, 2015 | Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers | Pages: 256 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 12
Fans of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book will embrace this darkly funny debut novel about Crow, a dead boy, who has a chance at friendship—and a chance at getting his life back.
Crow Darlingson may be dead, but he still loves air hockey, bowling, and drawing. Like other kids, his mother makes sure he finishes his homework, and he always looks forward to Halloween.
But Crow Darlingson isn’t like other kids. He stinks. He’s got maggots. His body parts fall off at inopportune moments. And he hasn’t been able to sleep in years. Not since waking up from death.
Despite the maggots, Crow is lonely. When Melody Plympton moves in next door, Crow finally has a chance at friendship and a shot at getting his life back from the mysterious wish-granting creature living in the park. But first there are tests to pass. And it means risking the only friend he’s had in years.
Debut author Laurel Gale’s story about friendship fulfilled may be the most moving—and most macabre—yet.
My Rapid Review
Crow Darlingson is unlike most boys his age: he is dead … well, that was until he became un-dead. Under the watchful eye of his mother Mrs. Darlingson, Crow does many of the things a typical boy of his age does, except that he is only allowed to leave his house one day of the year (Halloween) and he has no friends. Things are about to change, when a new next-door neighbor, Melody, befriends Crow and accepts his “condition”. As the two new friends explore the neighborhood, they uncover a sinister presence which may provide the key to reversing Crow’s state and help Melody find her missing mother.
Dead Boy is a very unique book which shares a poignant underlying message about the importance of relationships (both familial and friendship-based) and how loyalty and trust can help individuals reach their life goals. Importantly, many of the issues prevalent among the tween and teen crowds (e.g., jealousy, competition, vanity) are also touched upon in the story. Even the relationship between Crow and each of his parents is elaborated upon in such a way to make it relevant to the target audience.
I felt that overall the writing was solid, the plot was thoroughly engaging (especially the second half), and the character development was excellent. That being said, reading about a boy who is dead and seeing how the mother in particular was reacting felt like a punch in the gut. This is probably likely due to the fact that I am myself a mother and the thought of a child dying is inconceivable. I imagine that members of the target audience would not be put off in the same way and would likely see the humor in the situation. I do also have to mention that I did find that the repetitive mentioning of the maggots coming out of Crow was irritating after a while. I understand that the author may have felt that the reader needed reminding that Crow was dead, but perhaps this could have been done in a more creative and less repetitive way.
Overall, children who enjoy the macabre will enjoy this book and parents can be confident that the story does contain important life lessons about friendship, loyalty, and trust. Ages 8 to 12.
* This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. *
More Buzz About the Book
“A stinky, creepy tale for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
“Gale takes readers on a dark and surprisingly funny journey…. A great recommendation to middle grade fans of dark humor.” ~ School Library Journal
About the Author: Laurel Gale
Like Crow, Laurel Gale resides in the Nevada desert. She lives with her husband and a band of furry monsters that might actually be ferrets, her favorite animal (even though they don’t make an appearance in this story). Visit her website at laurelgale.com and follow her Twitter at @laurel_gale.
*** GIVEAWAY ***
Prize: One winner (US only) will each receive a print copy of Dead Boy by Laurel Gale.
Giveaway ends: December 14, 11:59 pm, 2015
Open to: United States
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winners will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher, Random House Books for Young Readers and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.