Books Reviews

Book Review: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

Going into this book I was excited. A book about a girl who brings back her friend and two other classmates from the dead to find out what happened? How the hell are you not at least intrigued? And then it turns out she’s Mexican??? Like ME?! I thought I’d hit the jackpot.

Little did I know that I was going to feel like the protagonist in a novela that gets pushed down the stairs. To put it in a less dramatic way, I thought I was going to love this book, but I hated it. Fue basura. And here’s a list I compiled about why:

  1. Throughout the book the three girls that were brought back to life make it obvious blehthat they aren’t happy about being back. Yet our main character becomes upset every time the girls complain about being brought back even though when you think about, the girls didn’t give their consent in regards to the whole thing. They didn’t ask to be brought back and yet Mila acts like she’s the one that’s being hurt here. Sure, she wants to find out who murdered them, but they didn’t ask to be brought back and have every right to be upset. You don’t get to decide if the dead people you brought back have a right to be mad or not when they didn’t ask to be. Here’s actual dialogue from the book: “June slams down her soda. ‘We didn’t ask to come back to life! You brought us here.’ “No one asks to be born either,” I counter” (Pg. 136). Oh but of course Mila! That totally justifies the action!
  2. The characters are all walking stereotypes. These characters lack depth and they’re all fairly two-dimensional. The mean girls show some growth in their character, but even then it’s not much. They also come across as air heads which I find odd considering bullies tend to be calculating assholes. You’d think they were a bit smarter. You know who they often remind me of? Karen from Mean Girls. You’d expect them to be more Regina George status, but no. They’re Karen.
  3. The “romance.” I’m going to be honest, the romance here felt so incredibly forced. It was made quite obvious that it was just being used as a plot device at one point and you know what that is? Crappy writing. There’s no development between the two (think Bruce and Nat in Age of Ultron) and it just makes for something that doesn’t feel like it came together organically. Like it was just thrown together for the sake of the plot. And for what it was used for was so bad and unnecessary in the end. This would’ve worked out well without it and it probably would’ve been a point in the books favor.
  4. I never came to care for any characters. I honestly could not have cared less about these characters even if I tried. They were just so bland and nothing about them made me feel sorry for any of them. Well, apart from the whole bringing the girls back from the dead without their consent. After a few chapters I realized that’s real shitty stuff.
  5. The ending was rushed. As I kept reading and losing all interest, I thought to myself, “maybe the reveal will be rewarding.” I was a fool. Not only was the reveal absolute garbage, but everything about it and what came afterward was rushed. One moment you didn’t know who it was (but was quite obvious), the next you knew, and like three seconds later the book was done. I would have felt disappointed if I hadn’t already been feeling that way.
  6. It tried to be funny and it wasn’t. It was trying too hard to be funny and it just wasn’t. And quite frankly if I ever hear anyone saying the words “fuck a duck” I might self-combust.

This last thing one is a long one and it’s a subject I’m a little scared to touch on because people are applauding this book because of its representation. While I appreciate some of the commentary made towards two of our white characters, I can’t help but feel disappointed about the representation.

Mila, our main character is Mexican. The thing is, I only know she’s Mexican because she mentions she’s Mexican. Representation doesn’t mean just slapping a label on a character, especially your main character and calling it a day. I don’t want to hear that a character is Mexican, I want to SEE that she’s Mexican. I want to hear her family talking to her in spanish! I want to see her think in spanish every once in a while. Mila loves cussing, so why not have her cuss in spanish every now and then?

Instead of having chicken and rice for dinner, why didn’t the author choose for the meal Mila’s family was having to be chiles rellenos? Or sopes, gorditas, enchiladas. Hell even some carne asada or carnitas. Why wasn’t that moment used to represent Mexican cuisine? Instead of using that moment to showcase something Mexican, we get a plate of chicken and rice. Not even some frijoles or tortillas to go with it.

I, like Mila, am Mexican. I know what it’s like to be Mexican and I’ve read other books where I see myself reflected in those pages. That’s why I have a problem with this one. I don’t see anything like me in this book. All I see is a girl who says she’s Mexican, goes to a Mexican grocery store at one point, and orders in spanish and that’s it! That’s honestly it.

Maybe it’s just me being unappreciative of said representation, but I just can’t get past it feeling like it was just mentioned and not shown. Sure the book isn’t about her being Mexican, but all I needed were moments here and there of little sprinkles of it. I just didn’t see it anywhere and I am incredibly disappointed. I hope that makes sense.

I knew my rating for this book was going to be low before I even finished it. Between a badly written and executed plot, lack of character development, a romance that seemed out of place, an incredibly weak reveal about the murderer, and then my problem with the representation there was no way this deserved anything higher than a 1 star rating. I personally would not recommend this to anyone. It sucked and I wish I could get my money back.

If you’ve read this book, what did you think? More importantly, what did you think about the representation?

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