Something Strange & Deadly
Author: Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Horror, Historical Fiction, Steampunk
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper –
The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.
And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.
Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.
First Sentence: “Dead!” a woman screamed.
I’ve read Something Strange & Deadly around the time it was released, which was way before I even started blogging. I remember that I sadly didn’t like it much – if at all. Me back then thought Something Strange & Deadly was boring and slow and I just wasn’t that interested in it the first time I read it. However, lately I’ve been in the re-reading mood, so I wanted to give Something Strange & Deadly another chance; I want to love it like how most other people loved it. Even though I’m technically re-reading Something Strange & Deadly, I don’t remember anything about its plot, except for the ending with the big reveal, specifically who the necromancer is, what happened to Eleanor, and how her relationship with Daniel ended. In the end, my rating for Something Strange & Deadly didn’t change.
I have a huge problem with the main character of Something Strange & Deadly, Eleanor. She was just too dense for my taste. I figured out who was what and who did what hundreds of pages before Eleanor did. Throughout the book, I basically felt like I was there with Eleanor, tapping my foot impatiently, waiting for Eleanor to play catch-up. There were just tons of hints telling us readers what was really happening, easy hints Eleanor should easily figure out without a problem, but alas, she never did until everything was shoved into her face at the end. To make matters even worse, Eleanor’s curiosity gets her into heaps of trouble. I couldn’t help but cringe every time she jumped into danger – and knows it. The only redeeming factor Eleanor has is her deep love for her mother. Even though her mother constantly nags her, annoys her, manipulates her, and controls her, Eleanor doesn’t snap and yell at her mother like I would if I was put in her position. (I mean, all the stupid things her mother did! I wanted to shake her.) Instead, Eleanor still cares for and respects her mother after all her mother put her through.
He signed. “Can’t say I’m surprised you were here. You have the curiosity of a cat and the common sense of a goldfish.” (119-120)
As I might have hinted above, Something Strange & Deadly is extremely predictable. I predicted things two hundred, even three hundred pages ahead of the actual reveals. That lead to Something Strange & Deadly being slow and boring since I already figured out everything pages ahead. I continued on with it though because I wanted to see if my predictions about everything was right, and they were.
You know those action scenes where the main character of the book might die? You know that nail-biting moment you’re supposed to have, that fidgety, panicking emotion you feel, hoping that the character would survive whatever he/she went though? Well, while I was reading Something Strange & Deadly, I had none of those feelings. There was no rush, no worry, nothing. I knew I was supposed to feel that way, hoping Eleanor would survive and for the zombies to just die, but I just didn’t. The only time I actually felt something while reading Something Strange and Deadly was near the beginning of the book and that’s it.
I wanted to say that I was doing everything I could to bring him home. I wanted to promise he’d be back soon and that all our problems would be solved. But I couldn’t, of course. (97-98)
As for Eleanor and Daniel’s relationship, I didn’t really feel the chemistry between those two. Yeah, they both had their cute moments and all, but they just didn’t have that special bond that makes me root for them two to get together. I do want to read the sequel to Something Strange & Deadly to find out what happened to them both though since Something Strange & Deadly left us with their relationship being a cliffhanger.
However, despite all those problems I had with Something Strange & Deadly, Something Strange & Deadly also has a strong point: the ending. I have to give major points to Susan Dennard for choosing to end her book the way she did. Seriously, this is probably one of those rare times where I read a book that has a mostly kind of bad ending that’s also a relationship cliffhanger. (You might have to read the book to get what I mean.)
[HUGE] SPOILER: Susan Dennard is definitely gutsy for making Eleanor lose her hand. I mean, have you read any other young adult books that had a character that lost her hand, especially in a book with a judgmental Victorian society? I don’t think so.
Overall, after this re-read, in the end I still think Something Strange & Deadly deserves the same rating I gave it more than a year ago: 2.5 stars. I guess Something Strange & Deadly isn’t the book for me, although I did enjoy reading it more this time around. In fact, I actually understood the steampunk elements in Something Strange & Deadly this time around.
I’m sure some people will really enjoy Something Strange & Deadly as the statistics on goodreads shows, but it is just not the book for me.