A review by titania86
My So Called Death by Stacey Jay


Karen Vera is a perky, blonde, pink adoring cheerleader. She couldn't be higher on the social totem pole at school and she's only a sophomore. The rest of high school should be a breeze until during a football game, she falls from the top of a human pyramid and lands on her head. Normally, this would be the end, but she is genetically undead zombie thanks to an ancestor or two. After scooping her brains back into her skull and feeding her animal brains, Dr. Samedi, the principal of DEAD (Death Challenged Education of Adolescents and the Deprogrammed) High, tells her she has to disappear from her old life and live among other dead people. Of course this is the worst thing to ever happen to Karen. Her new roommate is a wanna-be goth who absolutely despises everything pink; the uniforms are black, shapeless, and hideous; and Karen is no longer top of the social pecking order. To make matters worse, short after her arrival, someone starts stealing people's brains and leaving their bodies for others to find. Karen is on the case to solve the mystery, but will she solve it before her own brain is taken?

I enjoyed Stacey Jay's previous zombie novels, so of course I had to check out this stand alone. The hidden world of zombies was well written and interesting. DEAD High is kind of like the Hogwarts of the undead. There are weird classes like Zombie Internet Technology and Secrets of Morticians: Foundation and Beyond. The school takes in two types of zombies: the dead challenged who simply die and wake up again and the deprogrammed who are magical zombies risen as servants and then awakened to be themselves. The school is free to attend, but the death challenged spend years after their time there is community service and the deprogrammed do work study while in the school. The undead can also do magic, which is largely unexplored in the novel beyond a few instances.

Flaws abound in this book. The majority of the characters were flat, stock characters. The principal is sinister and creepy with a dark secret. Gavin is the hot athlete that Karen constantly drools over even when she thinks he's the killer. Clarice is the dark goth girl who dabbles in magic. They all fell pretty flat and didn't have any depth to them beyond the stereotype. Even Karen proved to be fairly flat with her obsession with popularity and cute boys. She lost interest as a narrator and a protagonist especially when going on long mental tangents about things I didn't really care about. Since Karen is in high school, I would expect the novel to be for highschoolers, but it ended up being obviously written for much younger audience. It's simplistic and lost its charm over the course of the book.

My So-Called Death is a cute novel for a younger audience. It didn't have the depth and subtley I usually expect from Stacey Jay, but it was still enjoyable. I wanted to know more about the world the death challenged lived in rather than Karen's personal dramas. The mystery was ok and had a few twists and turns at the end.