Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (Dead Things, Book #1)
by Martina McAtee
Release Date: August 31st 2015
2015 Martina McAtee
Ebook Edition; 520 Pages
Genre: Fiction / YA / Paranormal
Source: Review copy from Pump Up Your Book
4.5 / 5 Stars
17 year old Ember
Denning has made an art of isolating herself. She prefers the dead. She
spends her days skipping school in old cemeteries and her nights hiding
from her alcoholic father at the funeral home where she works. When her
own father dies, Ember learns her whole life is a lie. Standing in the
cemetery that’s been her sanctuary, she’s threatened by the most
beautiful boy she’s ever seen and rescued by two people who claim to be
her family. They say she’s special, that she has a supernatural gift
like them…they just don’t know exactly what it is.
They take her
to a small Florida town, where Ember’s life takes a turn for the weird.
She’s living with her reaper cousins, an orphaned werewolf pack, a
faery and a human genius. Ember’s powers are growing stronger, morphing
into something bigger than anything anybody anticipated. Ember has
questions but nobody has answers. Nobody knows what she is. They only
know her mysterious magical gift is trying to kill them and that
beautiful dangerous boy from the cemetery may be the only thing standing
between her and death.
As Ember’s talents are revealed so are
the secrets her father hid and those in power who would seek to destroy
her. What’s worse, saving Ember has put her cousins in danger and turned
her friend’s lives upside down. Ember must learn to embrace her magic
or risk losing the family she’s pieced together.
Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things was a pleasant surprise as the story line is definitely something I was not expecting; although I am a huge paranormal fan, some of the offerings lately have really turned me away from the genre, so it was great to read something that was fun and not quite so formulaic. This one had quite a few paranormal elements in it, so it was interesting to see how the author blended everything together and created a pretty good story to go with all of the different elements.
First of all, I liked the variety of characters that permeated this book, from the werewolves to the reapers to the zombies to the witches, never really knowing exactly which ones to trust. Since the story was told through different POVs, you get a sense of how these characters are feeling about the situation thrust upon them as well as how they feel about each other. Switching back and forth between the various characters was quite seamless and several times I had to look at the title to know which character was describing the setting and the situation as I couldn't always tell. I liked how the characters developed and you got to know them really well through the differing story lines; it was like watching a huge family with members constantly getting in each others' way and business, but it was also funny at times too. I definitely liked the interactions between the various members, watching how their various paranormal abilities created complications and arguments and dilemmas amongst them as well. Ember is one of those characters over whom I felt quite protective, right from the beginning, liking her strength and her rebelliousness as well as her vulnerability due to her miserable early years. Perhaps the fact that she is drawn to cemeteries like I am also helped? I think the only thing I didn't like about her was her relationship with Mace. I'm just not sure why she would be attracted to someone who tells her he kills people for fun and wants to steal her soul. Is she just attracted to the bad boys? There were times when I would have liked to take her aside and go, "Hello?" Tristin also got on my nerves at times, as she could be quite nasty to people, especially to Quinn. You reap what you sow. I can't believe I just wrote that.
The story itself flowed rather quickly and smoothly. The chapters were short, switching POVs quite often, allowing the pace of the novel to move along and I never really got bored; there was really too much going on. The story centered around the reapers, but I don't feel that Kai's abilities were explored to their fullest, which was a bit disappointing, but perhaps more will be forthcoming in future novels. I was a bit disappointed in Ember at times, being this supposedly really powerful supernatural, who just does what people tell her to do and doesn't really stand up for herself, but perhaps character development in the future will allow her to grow and be more willful as it can get a bit annoying after a while.
Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things was an enjoyable foray into a supernatural world filled with reapers, werewolves, witches, faeries, wizards, and so on. I thought the book was more light-hearted than some I have read, but there were also some darker elements included. The author was able to do this by keeping the interactions amongst the characters relatively friendly and family-oriented so they seemed like they were one big, crazy family. That is not to say that darker elements were not prevalent in this book, as they definitely were, but the novel was kept from going too dark because of these lighter elements, and I rather liked that. The themes of family, loyalty, betrayal, trust, and secrecy were prevalent however, if you delved deeply enough. I liked the characters and thought the overall development was pretty good, although I would have liked a bit more depth and strength to Ember's character as she did come across as a bit irritatingly wimpy at times. Overall, the world created in this novel was fun, and I am definitely looking forward to another novel in this series. And by the way, I thought the cover to this one was amazing.