Cover Image: The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This book was an interesting read for me, because while I didn’t particularly like the main characters, I was completely caught up in the story itself.

The narrative alternates between the viewpoints of former best friends Dino and July, who recently died from an aneurysm. Dino’s family owns a funeral home, and Dino is doing the makeup on her corpse when July sits up and starts talking. What follows is a series of misadventures as the two of them bumble around their hometown while trying to hide July’s partial resurrection from their families and friends. They also have same time figure out why July is caught in a halfway state between living and dead.

Both Dino and July irritated me somewhat as characters. July is very abrasive; she typically says and does what she wants and leaves others to pick up the pieces. For example, at one point she gets upset with Dino and abandons him at Walmart after driving off in Dino's car. (Not cool.) She does try to modify her behavior somewhat during her undeath but with very mixed results. Dino was a little easier for me to take, but he also has his moments of being self-centered and cruel to both July and to his boyfriend, Ravi, who is really kind of a saint in putting up with him.

When I don't particularly like the characters in a book, I'll often stop reading, but that didn't happen here. One reason is the humor--the book has quite a few funny moments. I was also genuinely hooked on the mystery of how and why July came back, although only one of those questions ultimately gets answered. 

The biggest draw for me was the friendship between Dino and July, in all its messy glory. There’s a lot of love there, but it’s buried beneath the pain that they’ve caused each other. The two of them have to open up to each other about how they’ve been hurt and admit their own faults. Only then can July and Dino also be honest about how important their friendship has been to each them and how much they still feel for each other. At its core, the story is really an exploration of the important role that a good friend can play in a person’s life.

If you are looking for a YA novel about the power of friendship and don’t mind a quirky approach to the topic, you should give this book a try.

A copy of this book was provided through NetGalley for review; all opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Off the bat, what I liked about this book was that it challenged me and my pre-conceived notions. Early on in the book, I made some assumptions about the preferences of a character and this book reminded me of the danger of doing so. Beyond that, I really did enjoy this book.  It handled big issues (death, family, obligation, hopes, fear, sexuality) in a slightly smart-assy way which is very much me.   I found myself very invested in July and her life and watching her post-mortem transformation was encouraging and insightful.   As a librarian, I will absolutely get a copy of this book for my high school students.  As a reader, I enjoyed my time with July, Dino and the dead.  Thank you.
Was this review helpful?
[this review will be up on my blog, acquadimore.wordpress.com, on February 18]

Do you like to read books about messy friendships featuring major character undeath and a lot of grave-digging? The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried is what you’re looking for – and yes, it’s exactly as weird as it sounds.

This is a story about two teens who have very different personalities, which both complement each other and clash a lot. It’s a story about complex situations and teens trying to cope with them, even as they really don’t know what they’re doing.

💀 Dino DeLuca is a seventeen-year-old gay teenager whose parents own a funeral home. He has a boyfriend, Rafi (who is trans and biracial Pakistani), but Dino feels like he’s not good enough for Rafi. He also struggles with the fact that he’s changing, that he doesn’t know who he wants to be – but he knows that the person he wants to be is not who his parents want. He’s confused, doesn’t know how to deal with that, and that’s what leads him to mess up.
💀 July Cooper is a straight teenage girl who just died. Or so everyone thought. Her story isn’t over yet, and if someone was ever going to able to temporarily stop death worldwide, that person was definitely July – while Dino is indecisive, she isn’t at all, and this may be both her biggest strength (she goes for what she wants!) and flaw (…sometimes, thinking through things before doing them helps).

This is a story about a friendship that fell apart, which means that at times Dino and July are hurting each other, and it’s of course a very messy and… foul-smelling situation. I wanted to shake both of them at times, but it was worth it. I loved this book’s message, the way it talked about tragedy without ever losing its sense of humor, the way it made political jokes sometimes and also talked about what actually makes a joke funny (because no, it’s never justa joke, especially if you’re talking about marginalized groups).

Another thing I really liked was that I could picture the setting, which isn’t always the case in American contemporary-set books. I already expected this because I didn’t have the usual “I have no idea how this place looks like” problem while reading the The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza either. I wouldn’t exactly describe this book as atmospheric, but I had just enough details.

What didn’t work for me were small things – this is a really short book, but some of the dialogues felt repetitive anyway. This could be a deliberate choice, because it did feel realistic, but I still felt like I was reading the same conversation over and over at times, which made me momentarily lose interest. Also, for some reason my suspension of disbelief struggled far more with whole funeral-home-family-business than with the undeath part, and I don’t think that should have happened.
Was this review helpful?
I received a Netgalley ARC of Shaun David Hutchinson’s The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried in exchange for an honest review.  The novel starts out with Dino, a boy who is semi-mourning the loss of July, his former best friend, when July’s eyes pop open.  Finding that July is not quite as dead as she was a moment ago (but also not quite as alive as she was before her brain aneurysm), Dino and July set about to find out the cause of this “miraculous” (or cursed) event.  In scenes that reminded me of every teenage night-out/roadtrip movie ever, the two former friends discover the roots of what caused their rift and work toward making peace with one another as well as themselves.

What I loved about the book were the frank, honest discussions about touchy subjects. Hutchinson starts the novel with a discussion of boxes, commenting about the fact that people like to shove others in boxes regardless of whether they fit or not.  Each character that emerges in The Past and Other Things… is far from fitting into any traditional box, and readers will leave the book feeling that all of those molds were accepted.  While I felt that some of the scenes were a little unrealistic (I had a hard time wrapping my brain around a high school party where one went from making a homophobic joke to listening to discourse on race and identity with an open mind), what was wonderful about these discussion scenes were the words that the characters used; if you’ve ever heard someone making a disparaging joke and think “That’s not appropriate, but I can’t really express why,” Hutchinson has an answer for you. By shining a positive light on so many walks of life while humanizing each character in unique ways, The Past and Other Things That Should Say Buried makes prejudice in any form seem downright ridiculous, and I would imagine that it could give readers new words to express the need for mutual respect.

What I did not love about the book were the gross bits.  I understood that the premise of the novel hinged on the fact that July was in fact dead and did only have a limited time, but the repeated references to decomposing smells and skin that wouldn’t stay attached at times made me want to add this to my DNF pile.  While I appreciated that the dialogue on acceptance was couched in an action-packed storyline that included plenty of humor, moments like July’s selfies from the casket felt a little too macabre to me and took away from my enjoyment of the novel.  Beyond struggling with those moments, a few characters, including July herself, were difficult to picture, and some plot twists, such as the entirety of death being on hold while Dino and July figured things out, felt unnecessary; I would have preferred more backstory and character development than a trip to the hospital where a man continually threw up because his overdose had been stopped mid-stream.

In the end, after truly enjoying some of Hutchinson’s beautiful descriptions of love, truth, and acceptance, I came away from The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried with scenes of skin slipping off of a finger etched in my mind, and this juxtaposition of the high-minded ideals and too-detailed descriptions ultimately took away from my enjoyment of the novel.  Recommended for purchase in libraries where other Hutchinson novels are popular or where there are fans of Mary Roach’s Stiff.
Was this review helpful?
First off, I have to confess I sped-read through this book in like three hours, because despite the fact that I had students in my classroom, I didn't want to leave Dino and July. The latest book from Shaun David Hutchinson, an author I hadn't heard of before but am looking forward to reading his back catalog, is a great story especially for fans of Six Feet Under, a series I finished binging on a couple of weeks ago.

Dino DeLuca's parents and sister are the morticians of the family, and they assume Dino's going to follow in their footsteps. Though Dino is skilled at making up the dead, it's not the path he wants to follow. But when his mother asks him to take care of July Cooper, his ex-best friend, who has died from a brain aneurysm, July pops up off the table and their last wild adventure begins.

Hutchinson spins out this story on a funny, engaging route. (I'm especially drawn to it as it takes place in Palm Beach County, one county north of where I live in Florida.) The relationship between Dino and July is argumentative and loving at the same time, and because this story is told in alternating viewpoints (which I normally don't like but this is done VERY WELL), we get to really see both Dino and July wrestle with their demons and leave us with a satisfying ending.
Was this review helpful?
What do you do when your ex-best friend comes back from the dead? That’s the unexpected dilemma Dino and July face in the newest book from Shaun David Hutchinson. And like all of Hutchinson’s books, it’s a great read from start to finish, meshing together a contemporary setting with a surprising speculative storyline. This is also the first SDH book (at least that I’ve read, and I’ve read quite a few) that features dual POVs—a fun development. That said, I did find one of the POV characters (July) fairly obnoxious for a good part of the book. But I think it’s a testament to Hutchinson’s writing that I came around by the end. 

Definitely a must-read for fans of We Are the Ants and Shaun David Hutchinson’s other books, though I admit it didn’t steal my heart quite as thoroughly as some of the others.
Was this review helpful?
et another delightful and sad semi-fantastical LGBTQIA romp from SDH. This dude is incapable of writing poorly. His characters are imaginative, the subtle fantasy twist is always a welcome addition to the plot rather than an intrusion, and the endings are always exactly what they need to be, nothing more or less. SDH is a freaking treasure. In this morbid little adventure, the son of a mortician is surprised to find his dead best friend, well, isn't. The incredibly stupidly named (hence the half star removal) Dino and July embark on a quest of relationships, broken dreams, and hurt feelings in an attempt to help her find her final rest. My only issue is that I wish no one else had mentioned that people were failing to die. If it were only between the two mains, it would have made it more mysterious as to whether only Dino could see July. I would have liked that lack of surety. Finally, mad kudos to SDH for having Dino's boyfriend be a trans character and not focusing on that--yes, Rafi is trans, but Rafi is also a handsome and compassionate ballet dancer who loves turtles. Being trans is featured only as heavily as every other trait he has. That is normalization at its finest and I love it!!
Was this review helpful?
Another Great Shaun David Hutchinson book!

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson is a young adult/teen standalone fictional novel.

This book was weird.  And I mean that in a good way.  Reading the blurb and description I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Was this book going to be about zombies or some type of vampire?  I was thinking to myself that zombies and vampires have been so overdone and what possible new flavor could Hutchinson be adding to this genre.  I was pleasantly surprised this story is a story of its own. 

Dino Deluca literally spends a lot of time with dead people and the dead are literally in his back yard.   His parents own a funeral home which he occasionally helps out as being the family’s best mortician.  Does he love being a mortician?  No.  Does he want to be involved in his family’s funeral business?  Not at all.  Dino’s best friend July dies suddenly.  When Dino is tending to July’s post mortem makeup she suddenly isn’t dead anymore.   Dino and July then try to figure out why she is dead but not dead. 

I really enjoyed this story.   The reason Shaun David Hutchinson is a 1-click author for me is because his stories are all so unique with very interesting plots.   I went into this book thinking this was going to go way supernatural but it didn’t at all.  It was very realistic despite the craziness of it.    This story had many serious moments but a lot of hilarious moments usually around July’s decomposing body.   The serious moments were centered around Dino and July’s tumultuous relationship and how their friendship just blew up and wasn’t repaired before she died.

I would recommend this book to teen readers.  It’s got a lot of funny moments going on but also has serious moments about the importance of friendships and how fragile they can be.

Rating:  5 Stars!
Was this review helpful?
Zombies + Shaun’s name = a no brainer for me, but for this I was left wanting. 

I liked Dino and July well enough. They’re both so stubborn and even though at the root of all of this, they’re stupidly loyal to each other, their relationship felt a little toxic. I really liked Rafi and his group of friends. And Dino’s family is pretty rad too. 

Plot wise, it was okay. There was a lot of arguing, a lot of commentary on current events, a lot of great lines and a lot of love between the groups. Even with all of these great things, it felt boring. I never completely connected to any of these characters and could have easily DNF’d without wondering how it ended. 

Overall, it was an interesting idea, yet sadly missed a spark I was hoping for and sort of expecting. 

**Huge thanks to Simon Pulse for providing the arc free of charge**
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed the story here. Dino and his not quite dead ex-best friend July are trying to figure out why she has come back from the dead. It was funny, and sad, and heartwarming, and I could go on. This story does a really good job of examining how some friendships go wrong or don't last. It also makes the reader think about how we should cherish those friendships because we never know how or why they might end. I think that is something everyone can learn from.

Dino and July are two very distinct, and at times not quite pleasant, characters. I think this makes them that much more human and relatable. At times I HATED July, but that was obviously intentional. The characters were written this way intentionally, to move the story along. I felt that was a mark of good character development.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this novel before its publication date.

This is my first Shaun David Hutchinson book and considering all the praise I've heard about his works in the past I was very excited to get a chance to read this.

I didn't dislike this book by any means but I think I expected to love it more. As I'm not the best reviewer I find it best to break things down into likes/dislikes:

Likes:
- It is inclusive and diverse. Gay, trans, and plus-size characters are given positive representation. Homophobic and body-shaming comments are challenged and resolved. 
- I liked Dino and Rafi's relationship and found it to be one of the more interesting ones in the book.
- The dialogue was funny and most of the time I enjoyed July's snarky nature. 

Dislikes:
- While the plot is interesting it is not fleshed out AT ALL. The proof clocks in at just under 300 pages and is just too short to effectively do what I believe it is trying to do. 
- While the characters are witty there is honestly not a whole lot of development with the exception of maybe Dino. Dino's family is on the peripheral of the story but I would have loved for them to be a bigger part of the story. They all seemed awesome and deserved more scenes and development.
- Maybe after reading Undead Girl Gang and loving it so, so much I thought I would just be into a "friend coming back from the dead" story better but this one just didnt' click for me. I didn't care much about Dino or July and was more interested in the side characters.

I am definitely still interested in reading more from this author and am grateful for the opportunity to read this early.
Was this review helpful?
And so continues the bizarre and brilliant mind of Shaun David Hutchinson!  In the words of one of its characters, *The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried* is both incredibly odd AND absolutely awesome. Why does it have to be one or the other?

This newest book is his funniest book by miles, but it still has all the poignancy and edginess, as well as a surprising emotional power, I've come to expect from SDH.  To get in the right headspace for this one (since a Hutchinson novel always requires a certain headspace), think about those first season *Six Feet Under* episodes when the Fisher family would imagine the corpses they were preparing for funerals actually talking to them. Well at DeLuca and Sons, this might be an even bigger problem, at least for the "Son," since his vision may not be just a hallucination. The end result is part *Warm Bodies* (but don't tell July she's a zombie!) and part *Elena Mendoza* (Hutchinson's last novel).

In one sense, this is Hutchinson's attempt at a buddy novel—maybe the weirdest buddy story I could possibly imagine, but still, the thematic content about friendship is as good as anything I've read in YA literature.  As for the characters, I couldn't get enough.  "Not-exactly-dead" July is no Manic Pixie Dream Girl; in fact, she may be seen as THE anti-MPDG!  And Dino is a solid addition to SDH's crew of characters (and maybe even more palatable to readers because he is his least troubled protagonist).

This is a wildly entertaining read, and I enjoyed every page.  And well of course, I may have even shed a few tears at the end.
Was this review helpful?
This is about Dino and July and their friendship and zombies. More specifically, a single zombie. July is dead but somehow, miraculously, becomes undead. A year before July's death Dino and July's friendship took a turn for the worse. While trying to figure out what's happening Dino and July take a look at the their friendship and why things ended to badly.

I liked this. Like really liked this.
This was a funny and heartfelt story about friendship and self-discovery and also the undead. I enjoyed the writing and I enjoyed getting to know Dino and July. I enjoyed seeing myself as a teenager reflected in those characters. I don't necessarily have to relate to a character in order to enjoy a book, but it's nice to read about characters that my teenage self can relate to. I loved how the issue of stereotypes, and joking at the expense of other people is addressed. The Trump shade was also real, and very funny. Simply put, this was great. I would definitely recommend this to people who liked Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson.
My only criticism was that some of the transitions from one chapter to the next were abrupt and confusing. I kept feeling like there were pages missing in between chapters.

*This book was provided to me by NetGalley for review purposes.*
Was this review helpful?
If you are looking for a hilarious and ultimately uplifting story about friendship with the un-dead, then The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried is for you. Dino has hit a rough patch with his ex-best friend July Cooper after he meets and begins dating Rafi. When July unexpectedly dies of a massive brain aneurism, (as she says, “My brain exploded!”), Dino’s family is tasked with preparing her body for the funeral since they own the long standing town mortuary. Talk about sad and awkward….

Then, when Dino is alone with July’s corpse, she suddenly sits up and is, well, un-dead. Together, Dino and July attempt to figure out what her future might possibly hold-if the un-dead even have futures- while also trying to figure out what happened in their past that caused them to fight and drift apart.

This book is about friendship, grief, love, being true to oneself, and the un-dead. Hutchinson’s writing is funny, heartfelt, and his storytelling will keep you reading! Loved every page.
Was this review helpful?
"A good friend will bury your body, a best friend will dig you back up."

Given that I love Shaun David Hutchinson’s work, I was super excited when I heard that he was releasing a new novel.  I was doubly excited when I heard that it was about the dead who won’t stay buried.  I recall reading a blurb where this book as described as "Six Feet Under meets Pushing Daisies" and I was immediately hooked given that I loved both of these shows (Six Feet Under follows a family who owns a funeral home; Pushing Up Daisies follows a pie maker who can bring people from the dead with just a touch -- and return them back to the dead permanently with a second touch).


-- Introducing Dino --

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried takes place over the course of two days and follows a young man named Dino whose parents own a funeral home business so being around the dead is nothing new for him.  What is new, is the dead coming back to life.  As it turns out, Dino’s ex-best friend July dies suddenly, and Dino is trying to work through his grief at her passing. He always believed that eventually, they would find each other again and renew their friendship.  But now, it was too late for that, and we begin to see Dino’s regret at all those words that now, will never be said.

-- Where The Dead Don’t Stay Dead --

 Dino is alone in the basement with July’s body, working on her makeup in preparation for the funeral — his way of saying his final goodbye — when suddenly she comes back to life.  Well, not to life exactly.  She’s conscious, sentient but her body is still dead:  no heartbeat, no breather and given that she had just recently undergone an autopsy, it’s unlikely that any of her organs are working either.

What follows is Dino and July’s attempt to figure out what’s happening to her, all while rehashing their former friendship, each blaming the other for its end.

-- Dino and July --

It was fun seeing Dino and July rushing around town trying to solve the mystery of July’s reawakening, positive that she could return to her dead state at any moment. They also revisited their friendship — over and over — and in so doing, discovered that they were both to blame and that there were a lot of things in their past they both left unsaid when they should have spoken up.

I thought this illustrated nicely the ups and downs of friendship and just how complicated those relationships can be.  I thought it was also a gentle reminder that the time to mend a damaged relationship is now because we may not be as fortunate as Dine and July were in receiving a second chance.

-- Race Against The Clock --

As Dino and July soon discover, they do not have the luxury of time to slowly figure out what’s happening with July.  Though July’s death may have ended, her decomposition has not which means she’s not smelling as fresh as she once was. When people around them begin to comment on the stench, they both realize that their time is limited.  Moreover, it turns out that July’s resurrection has had a ripple effect throughout the world and has affected the natural course of life and death.

-- On Friendship --

The beating heart at the center of this book is the friendship between July and Dino, and I thought that the author handled it exceptionally well. It was fun seeing them as they bickered with each other over petty annoyances, dug up old hurts and released old anger and resentments. But additionally, they also joked around and ended us rediscovering the joy of their friendship.

I also liked the fact that it wasn’t only one of them who was at fault but rather, they both were responsible for the break in the friendship.  So in this way, we got to take a look at the idea of unfinished business but from both sides as they both begin to realize that it’s those you love who end up hurting you the most — and vice-versa.

It was also refreshing to see a male and female friendship that didn’t end in love or where one of the two was agonizingly pining for the other.


-- July and Dino’s Characters --

I thought that July and Dino with wonderfully complex, vivid and empathetic characters and felt their characterization was especially powerful.  The author did an excellent job of bringing these two to life in all of their complexities, faults, flaws, and imperfections, making them someone the reader could easily relate to (or at least I could).

I thought July is a terrific character.  She’s multi-layered, flawed, impulsive, and once we move past her harsh exterior, we see that she is also insecure and deeply hurt by the loss of Dino’s friendship.  Though she comes across of self-centered and bitter, we see another side of her unfold as the novel progresses and we begin to understand the reason behind some of her actions. I couldn’t help but fall in love with her character by the end of the story.

I found Dino to be well-crafted, awkward but an endearing character and I loved how loyal he was to July — and how willing he was to help her even though their friendship had ended badly. He ended up being quite a complicated character who, though he thought he was self-confident and knew what he wanted, really was just as insecure as the rest of us.  This was especially evident in his relationship with his trans boyfriend Rafi as he navigated the ups, downs, and uncertainties of their relationship in addition to confronting some hidden truths about himself in that process.

I liked how the story was told from alternating points of view, allowing us to get an in-depth peek at what was going on inside of their head.  This really helped me to more deeply understand their feelings and motivations, making them all the more relatable and all the more real.

-- Final Verdict --

I thought this was a lovely heartfelt novel about two teens who were given a little extra time to resolve the unfinished business that was left between them.  I loved that fact that it was up to the reader to determine just whose unfinished business caused July’s return.


I loved how this dark and somewhat grim situation is lightened by realistic dialogue and genuineness of feeling between our two main characters, and the witty banter and shenanigans made this a joy to read. The quirky and crazy plot in this story was kept steady by the realism and the truth of the situation; this is, of the grief of losing a friend with so much unsaid still left between you.

As usual, Mr. Hutchinson did not disappoint, and I ended up loving this tender story which held me in rapt attention from start to finish.  It was a story with The emotional depth and plenty of heart, and I became so emotionally invested by the end of the book that I felt as though I were saying goodbye to close friends.

A huge thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Since Dino’s parents own a funeral home, he doesn’t really mind spending time around dead bodies. It’s just a normal fact of life. But when his ex-best friend, July, comes back to life as he’s prepping her body for her funeral, things start to get a little weird. She’s not really dead, but she’s not really alive, and it’s having an effect on death everywhere else.

As they start working on the mystery of July’s current state, July and Dino have to figure out why their friendship really ended. But doing so means exploring some pretty painful things of the past, and realizing that neither of them really had the whole picture.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Net Galley and Simon Pulse in exchange for my honest review. I was so, so happy to get an advanced copy of this book! Shaun David Hutchinson has probably become one of my favorite authors, and so far, my favorite book of his is The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza. The Past and Other Things that Should Stay Buried hasn’t surpassed it to become my favorite, but it was still a masterpiece of its own accord.

One of the things that I love most Hutchinson’s works is the way that they often examine friendships. This book in particular did this best, as July and Dino try to figure out why they stopped being friends. The reality is that it took July’s death in order for them to make amends, which is something that happens all too often in real life. We get the good, the bad, and the ugly of teenage friendships, and everything about July and Dino’s relationship feels real. Well, except for the fact that July is not-dead.

The emotions are also a strong aspect of this book. We feel Dino’s love for Rafi; we feel his anxiety about not being good enough, we feel his frustration with July. And through July’s chapters, we’re able to get the other side of the story. We feel July’s frustration with Dino; her struggles with accepting that she’s died; her sadness at not getting to do the things she wants to do. The emotions are what carry you through the story, and their not emotions that are unique to just teens; they’re emotions that everyone can relate to.

While I related to the emotions in the story, the main reason this wasn’t pushed ahead of Elena Mendoza is because I related to her a bit more. The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried is a bit more subdued than that, but still 100% enjoyable.

Hutchinson’s book will take you on a weird, wild ride that you won’t want to put down until it’s done. And even then, you’ll probably want to go back and read it again.
Was this review helpful?
The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried has a unique plot and an important lesson wrapped up into a hilarious package. Dino finds his ex-best friend not dead and has to grapple with the remnants of their friendship and how to re-kill her. But with a wedding on the horizon and everyone on Earth suddenly NOT dying, the pressure is a lot greater than Dino could've imagined. Oh, and did I mention that his parents own a mortuary? 

The characterization in this novel is amazing. I absolutely hated July throughout the beginning of this novel but her character development was amazing. Throughout the beginning, our view of her is tainted by what we've learned about her through Dino and not who she really is. The more we get to see her through her own eyes and actions, the more I liked her. July isn't a good person but she's not as horrible as we think she is at the start. July has to learn that her actions aren't always perceived the way she intended them. Dino didn't trust that July had his best interest at heart and he didn't trust himself enough to tell those around him to tell them how he was really feeling. 

I loved the casual queer rep we had in this book. Dino is gay and his boyfriend is trans and there's asexually mentioned on the page as well. There's also an important conversion about jokes and who is allowed to joke about it. I loved that conversation because I think it's so important to have and that a lot of people don't understand why they can't joke about these things when others can. There were a lot of conversations in this book that were done beautifully that everyone needs to hear, from the jokes mentioned above to learning to be honest with those you are dating. 

I think this book has it all: a gorgeous cover, an original plot, plenty of laughter, and a lot of serious issues. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Simon Pulse through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.*
Was this review helpful?
a fun time but not SDH's best IMO the characters read familiar and the story was really fun but weird love Shaun's work though, so it's good and am excited to continue to read Shaun's work in the future
Was this review helpful?
I love science fiction. I love Shaun David Hutchinson. I love that his books read like realistic/contemporary stories but have sci-fi elements (in this case it's more horror/sci-fi elements). 

Unlike more traditional science fiction where you are immersed in a new world where anything goes and nothing feels out-of-place, books like this require you to suspend disbelief. In this case, the fact that a teenage girl rises from the dead and runs around town with her former best friend trying to figure out why she just won't stay dead. (I said it was weird, right?) But there's so much more here than maybe-zombie-girls and their mortician friends...it's about friendship and grief and being true to yourself. July is not an extremely likable character (sometimes I just wished she would die again already), but Dino is an adorable mess--and Rafi is perfection (MORE RAFI, PLEASE).

I didn't love this one to the degree I loved Hutchinson's We Are the Ants (which ranks among my all-time favorites), but it was still amazing and quirky and funny. It's also weird and annoying and gross. So...you know, fairly realistic. Except for that whole best-friend-rises-from-the-dead thing.
Was this review helpful?
Oof, this one got to me. IT'S VERY RUDE to read lines like, "it's not that I feel I have nothing to say, it's that what I have to say rarely feels valuable" and the conversations about grief, because of how uncanny it was that they resembled my feelings and life. But also this was such a bittersweet story focused on the friendship between the two main characters, Dino and July. It showed how complicated those relationships can be, but how full of joy and love they are. The two of them made many mistakes, fought when they should've been there to support and understand, but had this deeply-felt bond that not even death could destroy. July was actually a pretty unlikable person, but I felt for her, and I definitely think her tendency toward refusing to give people the real her was well-done, and she grew a lot in that short time. I thought this book was gonna get weirder, so I was pleasantly surprised with how the author dealt with July coming back to life. I also really liked all of the secondary characters, and if there's one thing I wished for, it was more of THEM. (But I get why it wasn't). And I liked how this didn't just revolve around fixing July's not-death, but about trying to figure out who you are and what you want out of life, and learning what it means to let go of someone you love. Super enjoyed!!
Was this review helpful?