Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review: Dead To You by Lisa McMann

Dead To You by Lisa McMann

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse (February 7, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1442403888
ISBN-13: 978-1442403888
Series: No
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Cover: I wasn't sure how this cover tied into the novel but having read it, I totally understand. I think the snow on the eyelash is a beautiful touch and I like that it's impossible to tell whether the snow is melting or the person is crying. I really like this cover.
First Sentence: "The three of them are there."

Mini-Review: Dead To You is a dark novel, exploring the idea of family and love through the eyes of someone who has seen little of either.

Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family. It's a miracle... at first. Then the tensions start to build. His reintroduction to his old life isn't going smoothly, and his family is tearing apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he'd be able to put the pieces back together. But there's something that's keeping his memory blocked. Something unspeakable...

I don't think Dead To You is the right book for everybody. It's one of those novels you read when you are in the mood for something a little off and very dark. Lisa McMann dives into what it means to be a family and literally rips this idea from seam to seam while exposing the darkest parts of humanity. Ethan's rough voice coupled with his tough childhood contrasted by the innocence of his little sister Gracie is brilliant and McMann is able to mold her sparse writing style into exactly what the story needed.

Stolen away from his family at a young age, Ethan's reunion with the family that never stopped looking for him is heartbreaking and just a little bit awkward. Ethan's point of view is colored by his rough life. Everything he thinks or does is aimed at survival. Because of this rough way of living, he appreciates all the small things that being a family and having a steady home is about. It was really fascinating to watch him gravitate towards certain items and concepts like his pictures and the idea of his won room since he hadn't experienced those things before. I loved how rough around the edges he was and watching him try to fit in with a family that actually cares for him.

I really liked Gracie as a character. The fact that her parents wanted to shelter her from what happened to Ethan and how she and Ethan were able to bond really touched me. I felt like their relationship gave the novel a tender edge which is so desperately needed thanks to Ethan's very rough voice. I thought Blake would be the one Ethan would bond with since they knew each other from when Ethan was abducted but that was so not the case. The tension between Ethan and his brother Blake made for some great reading. I also really liked how fiercely Ethan's mother loved him and even how he was able to bond with his dad.

I wasn't exactly sure where the plot was going and got annoyed at how little Ethan remembered about his former life. Like him, I was fascinated with what happened after he went missing and I was always grateful to hear how his life was post abduction. What I didn't expect was for him to finally figure out his role in the family and then the explosive ending that left my jaw permanently unhinged. Seriously, this novel packs a huge, very emotional punch in that end that still has me reeling and I can't quite figure out if I'm okay with that.

Having read and loved the Wake series, I wasn't sure how McMann's sparse style would lend itself to a story like this. Turns out, I didn't need to worry because she showcases a completely differentway of writing. What I like about it though is she's still able to capture this simple way of seeing things and encasing this idea in the most beautiful words. Ethan's voice sounded natural and the writing was one of my favorite parts of this novel.

However, I don't feel like this novel will appeal to a wide variety of readers. As I was reading it during a trying time in my life, I found myself a little reluctanct to pick up the story because of the major darkness of the theme. This is not the novel's fault and I feel like at another time, I'd have appreciated the dark theme more. I felt like this is a story that needed to be told. I can see a character like Ethan just itching at the writer's brain and his story was definitely not like anything I expected.

Dead To You truly is unique read. Combining an honest voice that doesn't come around very often, a very stressful and delicate situation and a jaw dropping conclusion, it will definitely leave you shocked and will stick with you if you can stomach the dark themes.


Favorite Lines:
I feel panic welling up in my gut. If I move, they'll see me.
--Pg. 2 of an ARC of "Dead To You" by Lisa McMann
And here I stand, freezing my balls off, sucking down a cigarette, and wishing for some of the booze that is flowing inside of the house, when across the frozen tundra comes a sweet red coat of distraction.
--Pg. 54 of an ARC of "Dead To You" by Lisa McMann
My fingers slide through her hair and she slips her arms around my neck, and here we are, crazy, both of us starving for this. And I don't want to think about why I am starving, or why she is; I just want to kiss her, taste her, be with her.
--Pg. 195 of an ARC of "Dead To You" by Lisa McMann
I am Nigeria and she's my Brazil, and we exist in this moment...
--Pg. 196 of an ARC of "Dead To You" by Lisa McMann


  1. my sweet Amber,

    Im glad that you mention the darkness of this book because even though I have read awesome reviews about it, I am not in the mood of reading something with such heavy themes.

    Excellent review my dear!

    I hope you are doing awesome!!
    take care!! muah!

  2. Thanks for the trailer and review. I don't think I could handle a book like this. I would just cry and get a migraine! Without your honest review, I probably would have read it!

  3. I know what you mean about having to be in the right mood or mindset for reading certain books. Thanks for the heads up on this one. It sounds really interesting, I'll save it for when I'm in the mood for something dark


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