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Deader Still, by Anton Strout

Deader Still [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy], by Anton Strout (antonstrout) comes out on Tuesday the 24th, but should already be showing up in bookstores. I was fortunate enough to get an early copy, because apparently someone at Penguin likes me.

Note: Anton works at Penguin. I think this is coincidence. Anton doesn't like anyone. Except maybe Amber Benson, who also said nice things about Deader Still. Gr ... Anton has Amber Benson, Pat Rothfuss has Felicia Day ... when do I get a famous Hollywood actress saying nice things about my book?

Ahem. Anyway, where was I? Oh, right, Deader Still. Fun, but comes up lacking in the werejaguar department. Deader Still is the sequel to Dead to Me [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy], which I reviewed back in August. This time, Simon Canderous of New York's Dept. of Extraordinary Affairs is up against another batch of supernatural baddies, including a possible vampire invasion. Of course, the DEA is a government agency, so he also gets to fight red tape and budget troubles. And then there's tension with his girlfriend, ex-cultist Jane, not to mention some leadership troubles with his partner Conner...

Simon's a fun character. His psychometry gives him the ability to see an object's history by touching it, and his retractable bat gives him the ability to see a zombie's insides by whacking it. These two tools, along with a steady barrage of pop culture references, are pretty much what see him through the story.

This is a fun read that doesn't take itself too seriously, and never pretends to be anything but what it is. The pace moves right along, running poor Simon a little ragged in the process, but providing plenty of action. If you liked Dead to Me, it's a safe bet you'll like this one even more. We pick up some threads from the first book, and we also see Simon growing a bit. He knows how to control his powers better now -- well enough to maintain an actual relationship for the first time in his life. (Hard to keep a relationship going when you're accidentally reading your lover's secrets from everything you touch.) Of course, since this is Simon's first relationship, he gets to make all the fumbling mistakes most of us made as teenagers, which is a little painful at times, but understandable.

No book is perfect. Like I said before, this one has a deplorable lack of werejaguars (inside joke*). If you want deep, serious, intense urban fantasy, this might not be the book for you. But the only real complaint I had was a minor quibble, that the Buffy jokes started to get repetitive. Hopefully Simon can expand his pop culture references a little more for book three.

The last page gives us the hook for the next book, but since the major conflicts of this book are all resolved, I won't complain too much about being left hanging on this new crisis ... assuming Anton hurries up and gets the next book out soon.

*Disclosure: I know Anton. We've hung out, and I consider him one of my writer buds. That said, if his book sucked, I'd either tell you so or (more likely) I just wouldn't review it.



( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 21st, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC)
Ha! Have I ever actually explained the werejaguar thing?
Feb. 21st, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)
Not since I've been around, anyway (though that's not been very long). I'd swear I've read a novel some while back that had at least one werejaguar in it, though....
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 23rd, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
If you have, I missed it... and I'd really like to know. :)
Feb. 21st, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
I've been pacing it out due to an extreme crap quotient in my life right now. I have to admit I'm loving the Buffy refs, the ridiculous names (and ringing sooo true) of the bureaucy-issue pamphlets, and the other jokes. The sly dings at popular culture hit right in the middle of my humor range.
Feb. 21st, 2009 03:50 pm (UTC)
Sorry to hear about the life crap, Sherwood. I hope this is stuff that will pass soon...

And there's a lot to be said for a book that's just plain fun to read!
Feb. 21st, 2009 04:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the review. I am hearing great things about this book. I am convinced I need both.
Feb. 22nd, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
Wait.. there was a fifty page were-jaguar love scene when I sent it back to my editor last... did they cut it?!?!?

Feb. 22nd, 2009 06:26 pm (UTC)
That's why you're supposed to read your page proofs, man!
Feb. 22nd, 2009 09:04 pm (UTC)
Seriously. These new authors. Sometimes you just need to hold their hands through the whole editing process!
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 28th, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC)
Oh, I know! That's even more infuriating.

(I was actually just making a joke at Anton's expense.)
Feb. 23rd, 2009 02:45 pm (UTC)
I... I... never learned to read! *sob!*
Mar. 1st, 2009 07:13 pm (UTC)
Lindsey Lohan?!?
That would kill the film buzz for me. The last thing I liked her in was the remake of "The Parent Trap" and she was no Halley Mills.

There must be some young actress out there who is reading this stuff...or am I hopelessly naive and romantic?

JimB in CNY
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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