I read the sneak peek of Undead Girl Gang on Netgalley earlier this month, and was amazed by it, so when @Jo_Scribbles on Twitter announced that Foyles had a bunch of US releases in, I was on their website and buying this like a flash! (Yes, book ban, I know, I know…)
Book: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
Read before? Just the first few chapters.
Ownership: Bought new in hardback, oops.
Wow. Just wow. As I said on Twitter immediately after finishing this, Undead Girl Gang is the witchy ode to feminism I’ve always needed! This book is just such a perfect piece of fiction that I am probably going to rave and ramble about it rather than being coherent.
First off, I do not like zombies. I don’t like zombies at all. They frighten me. However, here I was okay, because although the girls return from the dead, they really are not classic zombies, just their normal selves with an occasional image problem. So that was great. I also don’t read horror (because an overactive imagination can make that super un-fun), so I was glad to find this was spooky but not outright horror.
So that’s what this is not. What this actually is: a gorgeous book about friendship and mean girls and finding yourself, wrapped up in a magical premise. Mila Flores is a fat Mexican teen, unpopular, who has been playing at Wicca – until she finds herself actually performing some serious magic. I’m not Mexican, but I have been the weird fat witchy girl, and Mila felt like the perfect character for me – the way she wraps herself in snark and humour is just so spot-on. I loved her from her first words. The most convincing part for me was the way that the author talked about Mila and Riley’s experiments with Wicca – mostly about lighting candles, buying pretty crystals, and wishing, but underneath that desperate desire to take control of something about their own lives. This is an author who gets it.
The plot rolls along quickly and lightly, but the true joy is the character studies of Mila and her three undead buddies. I thought it was very clever to unpack the tropes of the ‘mean girl’ character and show June and Dayton’s side of things. The scene with Dayton at her family’s pool is incredibly touching. The mystery really took a back seat for me, because I just wanted to spend time with these characters.
OH. BUT THAT TWIST THOUGH. I didn’t mean the mystery wasn’t awesome! I did not see that coming, and the bottom dropped out of my stomach in shock. I don’t think I’ve ever read as fast as that to find out what was going to happen.
Ultimately, for a book about death, this is extraordinarily funny. I laughed out loud several times while reading this. But it’s also very human, very clever, and very thoughtful. I will be lending this to everyone I know because honestly, it’s perfect.
A very obvious 5 out of 5 cats!