Ring the Alarms

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Release Date: July 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins | HarperTeen
Pages: 388 pages
Source & Format: Gifted; Kindle e-book
Series: Something Strange & Deadly #1
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
The year is 1876, and there's something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia...

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she's just read in the newspaper -

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor... from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she'll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

Thoughts on Something Strange and Deadly
To be completely honest, I wrote this book off the minute I read the summary. Zombies? Thanks, but no thanks. I've just started being okay with creatures in my books, but I figured zombies might be taking it a bit too far. Then, I kept seeing trusted bloggers proclaim their love for this book so I decided to give it a shot.

I closed out 2013 with this book, and it's actually one that contributed to my goal to focus less on hype this year. That's not to say this is a bad book - by no means! But it really wasn't the right book for me, and I think I kind of knew that before I opened the first page. I certainly gave it a shot and found some things to love about it, but it was overall a mixed bag for me.

Here are three things I loved about Something Strange and Deadly:
  • Eleanor Fitt - She's such a fantastic heroine! She's got a mind of her own, and she doesn't back down from a fight. I love when a girl has sass and spunk! Her mother is a total pain, but Eleanor doesn't let that hold her back. She's fighting for the people she loves, which made her a character I enjoyed.
  • Philadelphia - I liked that the city was important in the story. The details about places they were going and things happening in the world helped me picture this setting. I liked that the story felt so original in some aspects but still really relatable in others. For example, it was nice that it was set in a real city even though it included some very unreal events (the Dead rising).
  • Historical details - As a huge historical fiction fan, I adored these elements of the book. The time period, the small details about life during that time, the social restraints - I was completely interested in this aspect of the book. My huge problem with steampunk in general? I just cannot get past the inclusion of things like zombies in a historical setting. It's like my brain just does nott compute.
Unfortunately, those three elements weren't enough to leave me loving Something Strange and Deadly overall. I felt disconnected for the story and had to keep reminding myself to pick it up. There wasn't anything bad about it - I've got no major complaints or dislikes. I did guess one of the big secrets revealed in the end very early on while I was reading the book. It did take away the kind of mystery and tension that might have propelled me through the book, but that wasn't a huge deal. I also wasn't really invested in the romance, which is another reason this was probably just an okay read for me. 

Something Strange and Deadly fell into that middle ground for me - good but not great. I'm not sure if my expectations were too high after seeing a number of rave reviews (always a possibility) or just the fact that I struggle with paranormal/science fiction blending with historical fiction. I have a feeling it's a combination of both. I plan on finishing this series because I liked it enough to be curious about what happens next, but I'm also not in a huge hurry to continue. It's a fun read that was really original, but I ultimately didn't completely connect to the story. 

So Quotable
"Miss Fit, you know curiosity gets men killed."
I grinned. "Then I daresay it's good I'm a woman."

12 comments:

  1. I'm glad I read your review! I received a copy for Christmas and have pretty high expectations for the series, based on what I've heard so far. It's nice to see your review (especially since I trust your opinions SO MUCH), just to tone down my expectations. I'm hoping to binge this one in the next couple of months ;)

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    1. Oh thanks, M! It's so hard when a book is really hyped because (if I don't end up loving it) I'm never sure if it's because the book wasn't for me or because I just had WAY too high of expectations for it.

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  2. I had a hard time with this one too. I wanted to read this initially because of the historical fiction aspect but the addition of zombies IS weird. Plus, steampunk and I rarely get along. Great review though!

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    1. I'm so glad you know what I mean! I think I'm such a huge fan of historical that it just threw me off to have "creatures" in the book.

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  3. I only read Something Strange and Deadly last year, but I really enjoyed it! I found myself swept up in Eleanor's story, even though I figured out the twist early on too. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I like zombies, and necromancy and to have that combined with historical details was a potent combination for me. Plus, I loved Daniel. A lot.

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    1. I can definitely see how this one would be a hit! I think I was already predisposed to disliking zombies so it just wasn't going to be the "best" book for me. But I hope you keep pushing this one because I think a lot of people will love it!

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  4. NOW I'M NERVOUS. This is one I've wanted to try... I actually have it on a post I'm writing for Gaby but hm. I feel like I need to see what you think of Book 2. Maybe it will make you feel differently?

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    1. I own book two, so I'll definitely be continuing the series! I'm wondering the same thing - if I'll like the series more about that one.

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  5. I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt meh about this. I totally agree, I LIKED it...but it wasn't having me wanting to drop everything to read it.

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  6. This is interesting. Unlike you, I've seen more MEH reviews (I hate that word) or not-great reviews than rave reviews but I've always kept it in the back of my mind because I think the cover is really neat (so shallow!). And now there is a sequel, so both are sitting in my library queue in case I want to give them a go. But I wonder if you think I would like them?? I'm thinking either probably not or wait until the series is completed...what do you think, knowing how I like books with creatures in them and stuff?

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    1. I think there are probably a lot of so-so reviews of this one - I somehow just happened to see a string of AMAZING ones right in a row. So maybe my expectations were too high? If you can find them at the library, I say go for it! The first one is a quick read, so it's not a huge time investment if you find out you're not a fan.

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