St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 978-0-312-62520-7
October 2012
Young Adult Paranormal Fiction

Riley's Switch, New Mexico

Lorelei McAlister is not your average teen. For starters, her home life is not exactly normal; she's been living with her grandparents since her parents mysteriously disappeared ten year earlier, never to be seen again. But more important, she can see things—specifically she has visions, especially when she touches someone. Sometimes the visions are not a big deal; sometimes they are wildly inexplicable, and sometimes they are part of what has happened or a portent of what is to come. So when Lorelei brushes up against a hot, hot, hot stranger in her favorite coffee shop and experiences a crazy vision unlike any she has ever experienced, she knows things are about to change, especially with the tenth anniversary of her parents' disappearance coming up.

Imagine Lorelei's surprise when she goes to school at Riley High three days later and runs into the stranger she saw at the coffee shop, who, she finds out, is a new student named Jared Kovach. That's strange, but even stranger is what is happening with her classmate, Cameron Lusk, a fellow high schooler  who has been following Lorelei —well, stalking  really—ever since the coffee shop incident. Given that Cameron's a loner and hasn't given her the time of day since they were both in kindergarten, that's also bizarre. And for some unknown reason, Cameron seems to absolutely despise Jared, while Jared just doesn't seem to be who he says he is. What is up with that?

And the action doesn't stop. DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is an entertaining young adult read, and what appears to be the first in a great new series by a top-notch paranormal/humor romance author, Darynda Jones. Lorelei is witty, strange, and smart, and perfectly multi-dimensional. Everyone else is a secondary character, although some are more prominent than others. I loved Lorelei's best friends, Brooklyn and Glitch—they're quirky but thoroughly endearing, and they  all seem to have a great bond that is heart-warming, especially since trouble seems to follow Lorelei wherever she goes. Cameron and Jared are also unique and well-developed. Cameron is just a mass of anger, and Jared is, well, otherworldly, although maybe not young enough to really fit into a young adult book. And that would be because he is not, in fact, just some guy. Enough said on that one. You have to read the book to see what I mean.

So yes, I like the characters, as I always do in Darynda Jones's novels, but what I like the best about this story is the plot, even though I don't understand some of it yet, and there's clearly more to come. It's complicated but fun—and despite the fact that it's a young adult novel, and I don't usually read YA novels because I'm most definitely an MAA (middle-aged adult), this is one series that I will continue to read, and read, and read. Have at it, y'all. You won't be disappointed.

Astrid Kinn