Review: Undeadly (The Reaper Diaries #1) by Michele Vail

Rating: ** / 2 out of 5
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Published November 20 by Harlequin Teen
Goodreads | Amazon

Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper—and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she’s shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite boarding school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath.

Life at Nekyia has its plusses. Molly has her own personal ghoul, for one. Rick follows her there out of the blue, for another…except, there’s something a little off about him. When students at the academy start to die and Rath disappears, Molly starts to wonder if anything is as it seems. Only one thing is certain—-Molly’s got an undeadly knack for finding trouble….


First and foremost, I love zombies. In 2012 alone, I’ve spent the first 4-5 months reading zombie novels only. Most of them weren’t in the YA genre though, so I’ve been on a mission ever since to look for awesome YA novels (although I really doubt any could live up to Charlie Higson’s The Enemy series). So just imagine my pleasant surprise when I saw this novel on NetGalley! Unfortunately, it didn’t really live up to my rather high expectations. Even my love of zombies did not save this book.

Annoying Heroine

The heroine is one of the most irritating heroines I’ve ever had the displeasure to read. I’m not sure if it was her personality altogether, or just the ridiculous narrative that made me cringe sentence after sentence after sentence. See, here’s the thing – the narrative is unique. At first glance, it does resemble a real teenager’s voice. But it becomes too overbearing after a while and it felt ridiculous after a page or two. I think it was written that way in an attempt to make it more “relatable”, “personal”, or even “realistic”, but it felt unnatural and forced. I just couldn’t stomach all the attempts to insert slangs, to sound witty, to sound funny, when all of them fail bigtime. Since she was the only voice in the book, finishing it was a struggle. She was not only unrealistic, she was also condescending and judgemental. Ugh, Worst Heroine Award, anyone? It doesn’t help that it incorporates abbreviations that should never,ever be seen in any form of literature. Examples of abbreviations? “FYI”, “BTW”… yeah, go figure.


World-building honestly felt pretty random to me. So there are necromancers who have the ability to revive the dead. They do it for people who cannot let go of their passed on loved ones. Despite having a lot of people depending on them, these necromancers feel a sense of isolation from the rest of the “normal” populace. These revived zombies are also oftentimes used as “pets” or “slaves” by their masters (or former relatives… how sick is that?). It felt to me a simple world – a bit bizarre, and quite random. I do appreciate the Egyptian references, though. They were fun to read.


The protagonist ruined this book for me. I could live with weird world-building, cardboard side characters, and the like, but if the one doing the narrative is someone like Molly, it just ruins everything else for me. I wouldn’t recommend this. +1 for the Egyptian terms, though.

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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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