A big thanks to Friya at Penguin for letting me take part in the Undead Girl Gang blog tour. I’ve been looking forward to Lily Anderson’s book since it’s announcement and I read that fabulous synopsis. From the cover to the plot, there’s all manner of attention grabbing content.
Today I’m sharing with you all my review and the rest of the tour schedule so you can see an array of creativity and insight.
Published: 8 May 2018
Category: Young Adult/Paranormal/Mystery
Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.
So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.
Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.
Rating: 5 Stars
The story as a whole has a lot of elements that make for a great read. It’s got deeper themes, such as grief and death (whether referencing murder as an effect on those left behind or on the murder victims), not to mention bullying and racism. There are lighter moments that balance these out without detracting from their messages or seriousness, such as Mila learning how to process losing her best friend or the Mean Girls realizing just what their lives meant to those around them.
Mila’s observations of her small town’s reactions at the funeral bit hard, yet felt wholly accurate. The people that didn’t know Riley in life, the people that bullied her and were cruel on a daily basis, putting on their fake acts like they were her best friends. It was sickening to see and I understood just how Mila felt watching that scene play out. Granted, I’ve never had to deal with the exact situation of having everyone believe in a suicide story when it was actually a murder, but the bigger picture of death erasing all ills, whether those done by the dead or those perpetrated against the dead, is a familiar one.
There are a lot of other examples of Mila calling out the actions of her fellow townspeople, whether mentally for the reader to observe or aloud to their faces, such as in the case of June when they’re discussing what kind of food Mila is to get. June makes a comment about not getting Indian or Thai and wanting “normal” food and Mila takes her down for substituting “normal” for “white”, going on to point out how she’s not only doing so now with the food references, but how she did it on the daily when she was alive in how she talked about other people and anything that wasn’t the way June saw things wasn’t normal (re: white).
I was really happy to read a book about Wicca that didn’t disparage it. I remmeber finding a lot of comfort in the practice when I was Mila’s age and, while not active any longer, the principles of the faith still remain and it means a lot to see it treated pretty respectfully instead of being made into something out of a D-list horror film.
There’s rep in this book that I can’t speak to personally and I recommend checking out other reviews for #ownvoices reviewers re: Latinx representation, Black side character representation, etc. Mila as a plus size character was very blissful because her story was about her living and progressing in the plotline, not about her body and forcing it to change or something like that.
I can’t wait to read more Lily Anderson books because after experiencing her writing in this novel, I’m convinced that she’s an author I’ll want to watch out for new releases from.
About the Author
Lily Anderson is a school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. She is also the author of THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU and NOT NOW, NOT EVER. She tweets @ms_lilyanderson.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.