Book Review: Dead Boys by Gabriel Squailia #review #novel

Available March, 2015 (ARC received from publisher)
Very interesting concept: a man dead for some time has built a career in the underworld preserving the flesh and bones of other deceased individuals. When Jacob learns that a Living Man has passed the borders between the living and dead worlds, he begins a quest to find the Living Man and learn how to return to the land of the living…as a corpse, yes, but one with a mission.
The world of the dead is interestingly illustrated but isn’t the primary draw with this work. Instead, it’s about how Jacob handles his quest and, of course, the personal reasons he has for it, which he will not reveal to his companions: a boy who can control the bones of the dead and a foppish criminal. The interweaving of these elements truly sets this work apart.
However, the narrative elements and choices the author have made work against those elements. Generally, whenever Jacob needs to learn something, he is told a story. In dialog. Long dialog that, while it holds true to individual speakers’ voices, is a weak way to convey such large chunks of information. It makes you wonder if he’s trying to mirror the oral origins of the underworld quest used for this narrative. If so, the author could have done so with far fewer dialog dumps and instead utilized stronger narrative tools.
3 stars.

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