Saturday, November 4, 2023

Review: Dead Eleven by Jimmy Juliano

by Jimmy Juliano
Release Date: June 27, 2023
2023 Dutton
Kindle & Audiobook Editions; 439 Pages
ISBN: 978-0593471920
Audiobook: B0BL8V2BCG
Source: Review copy from publisher
Genre: Fiction / Horror

3.5 / 5 Stars

Clifford Island. When Willow Stone finds these words written on the floor of her deceased son's bedroom, she's perplexed. Determined to find answers, Willow sets out for the island.

High schooler Lily Becker has lived on Clifford her entire life, and she is sick of the island's twisted mythology and adhering to the rules. She's been to the mainland, and everyone is normal there, so why is Clifford so weird? 

Five weeks after Willow arrives on the island, she disappears. Willow's brother Harper comes to Clifford searching for his sister, and when he learns the truth--that this island is far more sinister than anyone could have imagined--he is determined to blow the whole thing open.
My Thoughts
Dead Eleven had an intriguing concept, a cover page that looked interesting, and since I am always attracted to a book that involves the lure of 1980's and 1990's nostalgia, this certainly had a lot of elements that I like in a horror novel.  And as I was given both a copy of the audiobook and a kindle edition, I both listened to it and read it at the same time. I will honestly say that I preferred the audiobook version as it was read by a large cast of narrators, all of whom did a fantastic job. 
Harper travels to Clifford Island to look for his missing sister, Willow, who disappeared several weeks back. They were not on the best of terms, but she was his sibling and he had this feeling that something was terribly wrong.  The plot was unique and interesting, but the execution was the weakest part of this book. I don't mind slow-burn mysteries, but this took a really long time to get going with a conclusion that didn't really pay off in the end.  I didn't personally find this book to be scary or frightening, just really weird.  There were several themes explored in this story, one of them being grief, and while I thought the author did a credible job exploring these themes, that exploration actually took away from the suspense / tension in the story as it went on and on, almost to the point of boredom.  I did like how the author used different writing techniques to tell the story, but I like it when I see an author explore different things in order to enhance the story and this was something that was well done.  
The story was also told from multiple POV, and the author used mixed media in a rather interesting way, including letters, audio recordings, news articles, letters, videos, and so on, to further the story in a fun and different way. It almost had the feel of lost footage novels without being a lost-footage book. And I like those kinds of books so this was right up my alley. 
I did enjoy the characters and thought they were interesting.  However, for a book that's almost 450 pages long, I would have liked a bit more development regarding the characters and a bit more struggle dealing with the things they were going through and having to accept what was happening.  And having this big network of people all over the world watching everyone's every move and ensuring that the things about Clifford Island stay secret seemed a little over the top to me.  
Dead Eleven definitely had some great elements to it, but the story took way too long to really get going focusing on things that took away from the tension / suspense of the story.  I don't mind a slow-burn, but this was too slow-burn for me.  There were quite a few themes that were explored in this book that were well done, but because there was so much repetition of these themes, they actually interfered with the horror elements in this book.  There were a lot of elements in this book that I did like that I would definitely read another book by this author in the future.



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