by C. J. Skuse

PUBLISHER: Chicken House
RELEASE DATE: 4th Feb 2013
FORMAT: Paperback, 328 pages
GENRE: Young Adult, Paranormal

Camille wants to find the perfect boy, with an athlete’s body and a poet’s brain. But when she’s mocked at a college party, she kows there isn’t a boy alive who’ll ever measure up. Enter Zoe, her brilliant but strange best friend, who takes biology homework to a whole new level. She can create Camille’s dream boy, Frankenstein-stylee. But can she make him love her? (Goodreads)


Dead Romantic by C. J. Skuse has the potential to be a great book, with a concept that could be really exciting and mysterious if written in the right way.

The book opens with main character, Camille Mabb, on the way back from her Freshers’ party at college, throwing us immediately into her self-absorbed first-person perspective. She is walking back through the graveyard covered in excrement, the remnants of an initiation ceremony which she was stupid enough to eat and drink something nasty before bathing in more nastiness.

It is here that she comes across Zoe Lutwyche, the goth outsider at school whom Camille never knew existed. Initially thinking it strange to come across someone in a graveyard, she realises that Zoe is digging, potentially grave robbing. Having always had a fascination for dead things, Camille helps Zoe with her task, going on to seek her out the next day at school.

It turns out that Zoe’s father was a scientist who was declared insane after the police discovered he was stealing body parts. She is shunned by the other students and is determined to prove her father wasn’t mad, as he invented a serum capable of healing and reanimating dead flesh with the help of a little electricity. She lets Camille in on her plan to reanimate a dead human, having first experimented on smaller creatures.

Camille is initially wary of this plan, but when Zoe suggests that the reanimated human could be perfect boyfriend material she is quick to jump on board with the plan. She feels excluded from her friends now that they all have boyfriends, with her crush Damien going out with her friend Lynsey, and she desperately wants to fit in and find love. Since the humiliating Freshers’ party she feels like the laughing stock, and wants to make everyone jealous with her perfect boyfriend, even if it means seeking out dead body parts.

Summarising the plot of this book was difficult, as there is an awful lot of build up before it really gets going and I felt that the summary is somewhat misleading. This book focuses on the initial creation of the Frankenstein-style human, dragging out the construction process rather than focusing on the aftermath. I was disheartened to see that the conclusion is left open for a sequel, as by the end I was hoping it would be a standalone.

My main dislike for this book stemmed from the main character. Camille is an irritating, self-obsessed teenager, who I think treads a thin line between likable and detestable. Unfortunately I fell on the side of detest, as all she seems to care about is finding herself a boyfriend and agonising over the loss of her crush. Her first-person narration was gushy at best, with her character seeming exceedingly dumb and naïve, prompting the extreme desire to give her a good slap every few pages.

Although I admired Camille’s wish to become a friend to Zoe, I disliked how accepting she was of the most extreme situations. I expect a degree of the unrealistic in my fantasy novels, but this took acceptance to a whole new level, especially when some of the other characters discovered their plan and accepted it immediately, as if reanimating corpses is normal behaviour. However, my main source of dislike came from her language, as she uses irritating non-existent phrases such as ‘awsies’, ‘enormalous’ and ‘totes’. Personally this kind of speak made me want to close the book and never re-open it, but I persevered to see if the plot would pick up.

As for the other characters, I think Zoe was the only one I really liked. As some of her back story is revealed we can understand why she is so desperate to carry on her father’s legacy, adding at least a small degree of understanding. I can sum up the entirety of Damien’s character just by repeating that his goal is to ‘do’ every girl in their college year, being every inch the spoilt wannabe playboy. It is Damien’s friend Louis that ends up stealing the spotlight, despite the object of his affections being clear from the outset.

Overall I had a lot of problems with this novel, but this might be because I no longer fit into the target market of young teen and am perhaps reading it with too much of an adult mindset. I’m thinking this in regards to the instantaneous love in the novel, as whenever a character enters a relationship they claim to be immediately in love with each other and it just seems over-exaggerated. There was a lack of balance between real and unreal, with there being too much focus on the supernatural events and not enough attention to character detail.


I wasn’t impressed with this book, particularly as I couldn’t stand the main character and think it’s targeted at a younger teenage audience. Despite the potential for a good plot, the book is filled with unbelievable occurrences and so many examples of instantaneous love that I was starting to question every little detail by the end.


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A book-loving student, currently studying English at university, whose favourite genres vary from crime to paranormal to romance! Slightly obsessed about books, will extensively spend time making sure no spines or pages are creased before purchasing.


Gemma February 18, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Woah! This sounds really disapointing. I remember seeing it somewhere else and thinking it sounded dead cool, from the synopsis, but from your review it sounds anything but. I hate books like this. Great review and I am NOT putting this on my TBR. :)


Rebecca February 19, 2013 at 8:06 am

There do seem to be mixed opinions around about this book, but I just couldn’t get into it so I had to be honest in my review. :)


Gemma February 19, 2013 at 8:24 am

Which you are perfectly entitled to. Nothing worse that picking up a book based on a review that is anything but fair and your reviews are always fair. :) It would be really boring if we all liked the same


Kate- Midnight Book Girl February 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm

So… dating animated corpses is not supposed to be gross but a rather a good alternative to finding a boyfriend? I’m intrigued by the concept, but not enough to rush out and get this one, especially since I’d probably have the same issues that you do with the main character.


Rebecca February 19, 2013 at 8:07 am

Yes, I also had doubts about the concept as it does seem highly odd to have a reanimated corpse as a love interest… But each to their own I suppose :)


Sophie February 18, 2013 at 8:10 pm

I really loved this. I thought it was brilliantly written, funny and I liked Camille a lot. I think she’s a very realistic teenage girl in very unusual circumstances.


Rebecca February 19, 2013 at 8:15 am

I’m glad you enjoyed it! I have seen some great reviews of it and wish I could have gotten into it more, but it just wasn’t for me.


Lucy February 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm

I find myself disagreeing with your review, as I really enjoyed Dead Romantic when I read it a month ago. I think Camille’s character is a reflection of teenagers now and is very realistic.
The thing we have to remember is that this is a work of fiction. It is not likely that in real life someone will invent something that can bring things back to life. I was happy just reading about a concept that was intriguing and interesting to read about.


Rebecca February 19, 2013 at 8:17 am

I fully appreciate that this was a work of fiction, but at the same time it is nice to have realistic characters that you can relate to as a reader. Personally, I didn’t find that with Camille and I think that’s reflected in my review, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion :)


Amber February 18, 2013 at 8:26 pm

I disagree with your review. As Lucy said, Camille is a pretty accurate perception of teenagers nowadays. The plot was intriguing and unique – something that is a bit difficult to find recently in the book world. Even if it’s not completely realistic, it’s fiction. :)


Rebecca February 19, 2013 at 8:20 am

I did think this book had a unique plot, I just couldn’t relate to Camille as a main character as I don’t personally know any teenagers that act like she does. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I’m glad that there are people who did love this book :)


Melanie February 19, 2013 at 8:42 am

I think writing YA is a real balancing act to make the characters believable yet likeable while at the same time targetting the YA market but appeal to the not so YA. I read quite a bit in this genre and like you tend to turn off if the hero/heroine is too falls too heavily into to being too ultruistic or too annoying teen.

I appreciate your candor. Not liking a book and having to write a review about it isn’t an easy thing to do.


Laura February 19, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Yes I agree with Mel, I hate writing negative or less than positive reviews shall I say, always a tough one, and everyone has their own opinion. But I thought this was a well balanced review – well done x


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