Published by Three One Six Audio on May 9th 2020
Genres: Paranormal, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Fifteen-year-old Harper J. Ellis lives in Juniper Hollow, a hotbed for paranormal activity. Here the dead outnumber the living ten to one, and strange occurrences are a way of life. Most of the residents choose to ignore the odd quirks of the small Victorian town.
But not Harper.
She’s perfectly content to spend her days in the graveyard, reading paranormal romance books at the foot of a tombstone. Like many girls her age, she obsesses over boys. However, it’s her taste for all things strange and unusual that prompt her to start a club.
A pulse isn’t required, but a flair for ghoulish fun is.
Care to join?
The Dead Boy’s Club follows Harper J. Ellis, a teen who lives in the tiny town of Juniper Hollow, where ghosts are respected, cars are banned, and seemingly no one ever leaves – they all adore the place too much. In Juniper Hollow, Harper lives with her parents, her annoying-yet-adorable twin brothers Innis & Gunn, and she LOVES it. Her favourite hobby is reading in the nearest cemetery, but if she gets bored, there are five in the town to choose from. She has no interest in boys – or certainly not in human boys. She’d much rather stick to her book boyfriends thank you very much. Until Killian Porter arrives, and throws her world into chaos.
He was like a book I wanted to read from cover to cover, savoring every hidden message.
The blurb for The Dead Boy’s Club is a little vague, so I didn’t really know what to expect from the story, and in this case I think that absolutely did the book a disservice. Despite the accepting-of-the-supernatural Juniper Hollow, the book is, first and foremost, a romance. Now, I’m not a book snob – at least half of my reading choices are YA – but I think I’m just a little too old for this particular teen romance, and I don’t think I’d have picked it up if I knew what to expect.
Harper is a fairly normal teen girl – she stands out for her goth style and her penchant for lolita fashion, and she’s not one of the popular kids, but she has a small circle of close friends, she gets on well with her family, and she adores to read. She’s also, frankly a little bit weird – and a little bit obsessed with how unique she is. She refers to humans as ‘Middlings’, and talks loudly and often about how all she wants for a boyfriend is an undead immortal. She panicks about everything – not in a mental health representation kind of way, just in a teenage overreaction kind of way – and her relationships with her friends are borderline unhealthy. The group split up over the summer when everyone but Harper got a boyfriend, and Harper is devastated. While that’s totally understandable, the way the teens treated each other even when friendly seemed to alternate between sickly-sweet-best-of-friends and the kind of banter that seems borderline cruel.
I did the worst thing I could and made eye contact. Bad move. So stupid, Harper. don’t you know that locking eyes is like the gateway drug to so much more? That’s how every girl in every book had fallen for the boy she probably shouldn’t have.
There were things I enjoyed about the book – Volley really brings the town of Juniper Hollow to life and I really liked the good moments between Harper and her friends and family. It works well as an audiobook, with Caitlin Kelly bringing a pleasant, easy-to-listen to style. I liked the plot twist, and Volley’s writing style is a little flowery at times but in a nice way – she brings the seasons, the town, Harper’s feelings, to life. Despite being full of teen cliches, it also manages to poke fun at them a little, like in the quote above. Harper is feisty and painfully believable as a teenager. The whole novel has a very authentic teen feel, and if I was a tween or young teen obsessed with books and romantic vampire novels like Twilight, Vampire Academy, Hush, Hush and Fallen, I’m absolutely sure I’d have loved it. Unfortunately, I was never that teen – while I read all of those books bar one, I’d much rather have a fantasy or a dystopian than a romance, and I never really got the whole book boyfriend thing. Reading it now, I look at the characters and think they feel both two-dimensional, and like crappy friends. That’s probably true for lots of books I enjoyed as a teen, but it certainly doesn’t work for me now. The whole story also felt like it just needed a bit of a polish – there were frequent references to Harper’s allergies and poor health which never went anywhere, and it has an almost fan-fiction feel at times. Ultimately, I think I’m just not the target audience, and worse, I’ve probably never been the target audience, so I never connected with the book in the way I’m sure some readers will.