(Blog Tour) Review: Undeadly by Michele Vail

Title: Undeadly
Author: Michele Vail
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Released: Nov 20, 2012
Buy: The Book Depository

Undeadly is packed with potential, with its book description promising originality, entertainment and a fresh stance on mythology. Egyptian lore, ancient jackal-headed gods, prophecies, reapers, and a boarding school to boot – with so many intriguing boxes ticked, it is a challenge to reel in those uncontrollable expectations. Disappointment, unfortunately, is the customary feeling after that when a book doesn’t fully deliver. Undeadly fell short in several crucial areas, especially those concerning the plot and the characters, and failed to truly enthral. Despite its faults, however, there are redeeming qualities that make it apparent why, for the right reader, it will certainly hold some appeal.

Let us start with the obvious source of frustration, one that I am certain the majority of people will recognise. Molly Bartolucci is, to put it lightly, annoying. There is nothing at all wrong with an immature and unlikeable protagonist if the author intended to write said protagonist in such a way. Flawed characters are, in fact, preferable, provided that the flaws are recognised and the characters given opportunity for realistic growth. It only becomes problematic when their irritating traits truly become irritating, preventing complete enjoyment of the book. Molly is drama, abbreviations, slang and ‘whatevs’. She is OTT (that’s me, channelling Molly), a poor attempt at witty, and sometimes even a little hypocritical. Moments of appreciable humour are interlaced, maybe triggering the occasional snigger or grin, but, too often, it is difficult to disregard the exasperation that follows her nonsensical thoughts.

For those who can tolerate Molly enough to ignore her - or are more in tune with her sense of humour - the world of necros and zombies (and even the occasional ghoul) is easier to appreciate. Michele Vail’s take on necromancy is a fascinating one, with Egyptians rituals and the ancient belief that the soul is separated into five parts playing a central role. Molly is a ka heka, someone who can reanimate the dead using the part of the soul called the Ka. Her zombie-making days evolve into more once it becomes apparent the stories of Anubis, Set and the Underworld are closer related to her than she might have thought. This aspect of the book was genuinely fascinating. Ancient Egyptian mythology is something I crave to see more of in young adult fiction, and Vail did a decent enough job to pique my interest.

Keeping that attention intact, however, is a challenge. The few sub-plots present are weakly entwined and needless detours fragment the overall plot considerably. Predictability is also an issue (doing Molly little favours), which results in a slight sense of anti-climax. One aspect that I did enjoy was Rath's role in the story. He is cocky, but not overly so, and a likeable potential love interest. The romantic plot is slight in this book - perhaps in need of further development to make sense - but enjoyable enough. While the secondary characters are not particularly memorable, their interactions with each other are entertaining. 

Although I was essentially underwhelmed by this book, I stand by my earlier comment and firmly believe it can be enjoyed by others. The main issue is Molly – connecting with her is the crucial part, and if that can be done effortlessly enough, then the other flaws are easy to overlook. Overall, despite the initial disappointment, I felt this was a solid read and look forward to a (hopefully) better sequel.

Rating: 3 stars
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This review is a part of the blog tour hosted by Itching for Books. 5 signed copies are available for US residents - fill in the rafflecopter below to enter to win. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

39 comments:

  1. LOL I actually really liked Molly! I felt like she was a realistic 15 just turned 16 year old. I was kind of similar to her back in the day. The world building with the ghouls, zombies, and Anubis was really interesting!

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  2. I haven't heard too much about this book but I've been intrigued by it for quite a while. Sounds good. Great review!

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  3. Wonderful review, Sam! I received this one on NG, but I think I'm going to skip it. Somehow, I can't see myself being able to connect with Molly and, as such, I have a feeling I won't enjoy this one too. I hope you enjoy the sequel more though - if it's worth checking out, I might pick up this series after all! :)

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  4. Freaking, amazing review! I don't think I'm going to end up reading this one just because it doesn't seem like something I'd enjoy, but thank you for the honest review!

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  5. I agree that there should be more Egyptian mythology in YA. I might try this one just for that reason.

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  6. I thought Molly's sarcasm was a great touch to the story, since it was more of a dark paranormal novel. I can see where you think she became annoying though. The awkward part for me were her relationships with other characters. I did like Rath though, too! I totally agree with you on the Ancient Egyptian mythology, I really enjoyed that aspect part of the book too. Awesome review, Sam! :)

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  7. It's hard to truly like a story if you never like the main character. I didn't like the main character in Speechless at first but she grows as a person and I fell for her as the book progressed. This doesn't seem to be the same type of scenario. I'd still be willing to give this a go, because the story does sounds interesting, and like you said, I may have a different opinion of Molly. Great review Sam. :)

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  8. Awesome giveaway! This book sounds really good!!

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  9. I can definitely understand your disconnect with Molly. I've found myself sometimes warming to those characters, though most of the time I set the book down before I'm even halfway through. So I'm not entirely sure how Molly will fair, though the predictability and weak sub-plots don't inspire a great deal of hope. Still, I love the idea of Egyptian mythology being explored and Rath sounds like a character worth meeting! Sorry this didn't live up to your initial excitement, but even so, you always manage to write a damn stellar review <3

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  10. What a shame that this book is disappointing. It's not good when a book falls short on the characters and plot. I really like the sound of the Egyptian mythology. The background story sounds fascinating, but the fact that Molly is so annoying makes me less excited about this book. I have an eARC and I will try it out, but I will keep these points in mind. Thanks for the awesome review :)

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  11. Oh no...I just wanted to say how this book looks lovely and that I'd gladly read it, but then there is that annoying thing. Huh...I cannot survive one more! Great review! :) Maybe I'll read it, maybe I won't. Dunno :)

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  12. LOL Molly doesn't really sound like my kinda girl, the slang talk would grate on me. Although I really am intrigued by this storyline, so I might have to give it a try myself, maybe Molly will surprise me...?? Thanks for a wonderful review Sam, I hope if you read the next book it improves! :)

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  13. I'm sorry this book fell short for you Sam, it sounds so promising too! I wholeheartedly agree with you connecting with the main character is really important for me, if that isn't possible then the book ends up being a bit of a disappointment. It sounds like this book has the potential to deliver, but kind of took all of your patience to finish it! Thanks for the honest review, I will definitely have to keep all these issues on the back of my mind, if I decide to pick this up.

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  14. Thanks for the honest and thorough review, Sam. I've read the summary and it sounds cool and interesting. I might read this book since I love mythology :)

    -Dannielle

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  15. Uh oh, I requested this one because of the Egyptian mythology - which sounds well done - but I just can't tolerate annoying MC's. I'll probably read this one but will lower my expectations. Thanks, Sam!

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  16. FINALLY. Someone who agrees with me! I thought that Molly was annoying, too. Well, not THAT much in the beginning, but right after she 'revived' Rick, y'know? I also don't know what I actually GAINED from reading this book, too, especially since the beginning of the actual plot was only revealed in the end. *sigh* I was quite disappointed in this.

    Great review, Sam!

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  17. Unfortunately, I don't think I could ever in a million years like a character like Molly, and that's a deal-breaker for me. I share your views on likable/unlikable characters, and I agree that some are just too irritating to read about.
    I had high hopes for this one and I'l glad it wasn't all bad.
    Wonderful review as always, Sam!

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  18. I'm sorry that this fell flat for you and that Molly was such an annoying character. I'm hoping I won't find her too annoying though because this book has a great premise and I'm looking forward to reading it. Great honest review Sam.

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  19. Sorry you didn't connect with Molly. Connecting with MC is crucial for me too.
    Hope your next read is amazing.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  20. I'm currently reading the book - Molly does seem a little immature but I don't find her that annoying... yet. So far, I really enjoy the way how Vail weaves Egyptian mythology into the story. I'll get back to reading the book now. Thanks for the review, Sam!

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  21. Wow, there's a lot going on in this book! You named quite a few of my pet peeves in a main character. Not sure if this one is for me. I think I'll enter the giveaway and let fate decide ;) Great review, Sam - thanks so much for sharing and for the giveaway! :D

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  22. Our thoughts on this one are nearly identical Sam! I was greatly underwhelmed too, but I think a lot of that is it read very young for me, and I had to remind myself that, at 30 years old, I'm not the target audience for Molly. I think a younger crowd will enjoy this one much more! Rath was the highlight for me as well, and maybe if he's developed a bit more as the series continues, I'll give the other books a try:)

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  23. I am finishing this today and I agree with you, Molly is very annoying the Whatevs are getting on my nerves. It has some good points but I am not overly impressed but I have to read the last third still.

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  24. Good review. Thanks for participating.

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  25. Ugh.. I have this one coming up next, but now I getting a little reluctant after reading a few not so encouraging reviews. *sigh* Wish me luck. lol

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  26. ahh this DOES sound like unique book but yikes to the main character being so annoying, what a bummer. I'm so sorry this was underwhelming. :(

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  27. Zombies and Egyptian lore in one book ---definitely intrigued! I am very much looking forward to this book, simply for the story and the plot. It's very different and I can't wait to check it out for myself. Although, I will read this, I appreciate the warning about the main character. LOL ;p I'll just have to deal with it for the sake of the story. Brilliant Review, Sam! Hopefully, the next book for you will be significantly better.

    ~ Maida @ Literary Love Affair

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  28. Ack. Totally get how an annoying MC could get in the way of a perfectly good book. Specially when it's their story and voice. Too bad this book didn't work out for you, Sam!

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  29. So agree with you..the protagonist got on my nerves too..my review is similar to yours and will post next week...huge disappointment.

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  30. I totally get what you're trying to say, Molly sounds horrible and it's hard to like a story when the mc annoys you so much. Hope you have better luck with your next read! ^^

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  31. Oh no! I'm not sure if I'd be able to stand Molly if I ever pick this book up. It's really hard to appreciate the whole story even if the concept sounds promising if you can't get to really like the main character. But it's still good to hear that there are aspects that are really enjoyable in this book. Fantastic review, Sam. :)

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  32. Wow. Molly sounds...unlikeable. The lore certainly sounds fascinating, but with a character like her it's hard to say whether I'd enjoy it as much as I would otherwise. Still, I'm glad you did like it overall. Wonderful review, Sam. :)

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  33. haha it seems like you really disliked Molly! I actually wasn't that bothered with her, and found her funny at times. Im glad that you still enjoyed other parts of the book! Lovely review Sam!
    - Farah @ MajiBookshelf

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  34. Holly hell, Molly sounds... I can't finish this statement without inserting a swear word, excuse me. A very disappointing book for such a big-premise novel, it seems, (Eygptian lore?!) but ultimately not something I look forward to anymore. Exceptional review as always, Sam!

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  35. OK, Sam. Seriously. How do you do it? Brain steroids? A caffeine-only diet? Because WOW. Even if it's for a book you didn't love, your review is AMAZING.

    And... *sigh* I'm sorry this wasn't better. I've only read one other review, but it said much the same thing. Basically, Molly is an irritating brat, So not a good sign.

    ANYWAY. Wonderful review, glowing or not, and ♥

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  36. I was intrigued by the inclusion of Egyptian mythology in this one, but I am starting to be worried that I won't be able to deal with Molly's character, based on a few reviews! I'm reading this soon, so we'll see how it goes.

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  37. Urghhh I haven't even read the book and I already feel like slapping Molly! (and it doesn't help I don't particularly like the name Molly...but oh well!) It seems Molly's character is a recurring problem; I don't think I can enjoy this book now :( Nonetheless, amazing review Sam!<3

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  38. The cover of this novel is certainly beautiful. However I think I'll be skipping this one because not being able to connect with the main character is something that really draws me out of a novel.

    Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this one as much as you thought you were! :)

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  39. Thanks for honest review, Sam!

    I have started this book and still haven't given up on it cause of the Egyptian mythology and cause I'm hoping it'll get better, but after reading your review, I'm not sure how much I'm gonna like it. Molly's way of talking and expressing herself is annoying to me already, so we'll eventually see!

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