Deadville by Ron Koertge

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Synopsis: Ryan Glazier simply exists; he maintains a solid C-Average and smokes with his best friend Andy. Ryan was not always like this. He used to be an athletic teenager who enjoyed playing soccer. Things took a downward spiral when his younger sister Molly passed away two years ago. Now Charlotte Silano; a senior at school, not to mention one of the hottest girls lies in a coma after falling off her horse. Ryan is drawn to Charlotte for some reason and visits her in the hospital almost every day. Why does Ryan visit Charlotte and talk to her? Will it help her to regain consciousness? What’s in it for Ryan? Is he going to start coming out of his emotional detachment? 

Cover Gushing Worthiness: I admit that it was the cover that drew me towards the book. There isn’t a lot going on in it. However the image of the hat and earphones makes sense as the story progresses. The cover reminded me of the Things Not Seen cover by Andrew Clements. That is another book that I would recommend as well!

Review: I haven’t read a lot of books that deal with life threatening illness and after reading A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness I wanted to read more. Cue discovery of Deadville. Now as I read Deadville I didn’t compare it to A Monster Calls, but I was reminded of it.

I like the premise of this story because it focuses on a sibling’s perspective. How family members deal with grief is a very personal experience and there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to go about it. I enjoyed how Koertge explored the experience of grief among Ryan and his parents. He really looked at how life changes when a loved one experiences a life threatening illness and how the surviving members deal with a loss of a loved one.  The setting of the school did remind me a lot of Conor’s experience in A Monster Calls  because both characters experience isolation.

The subplots such as Ryan’s developing relationship with his classmate Betty and the young boy Thad at the hospital were clever additions because it gave the reader an opportunity to see Ryan’s character come out of his emotional detachment.

Although the premise of the book was good, I had some problems with the characters. My main issue was with Ryan. Unlike Conor from A Monster Calls I didn’t connect with Ryan emotionally. He just existed and I found it hard to believe him because I had no connection with him. Ryan’s sister Molly was also somewhat of a shell. Her character had much more potential and I wish she was more developed. And the resulting problem for me was that I didn’t quite believe the relationship between Ryan and Molly. I wish there were flashbacks of the two of them where we’d get a chance to hear Molly’s voice, not Ryan’s reflection of her.

Another relationship I had a problem was with Betty and Ryan’s. Personally I thought it came out of nowhere and I didn’t believe it either. I promise this review isn’t completely negative!!

The friendship between Ryan and Andy which was one of the more important ones also ended quite abruptly. I felt like there was no closure between the two of them and Andy sort of faded away as the story progressed. But it also may have shown Ryan’s character development.

The most important relationship in the book is between Ryan and Charlotte. It is a one-sided friendship, but it is one that offers Ryan redemption and ultimately that is what he is looking for.

If I had so many problems with the characters, you’re probably asking why I even bothered to finish this boo. It’s definitely a valid question and the only answer that I have is that the book just gripped  me. Sometimes you do come across books that have a hold on you even though you have problems with it. I just wanted to find out what happens in the end.

Overall despite my issues with the characters, Deadville was an enjoyable read. The premise of the book was and the writing was good, good to the point where I finished it in a night. If you’re looking for a young adult/teenage book that deals with Cancer and it’s life changing affects this is a book you may want to consider reading.

My Rating: 3/5

Would I recommend it? Yes.

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  1. Pingback: Deadville Review « The Streetlight Reader

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