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Reading Between Classes

A unique perspective on YA Literature from a junior high teacher. 

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Scarlett Dedd

Scarlett Dedd - Cathy Brett This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between ClassesCover Impressions: This cover does not even scratch the surface of the awesomeness that is inside. See those fantastically creepy drawings? Those are EVERYWHERE and they get even better.The Gist: Scarlett was dead, to begin with. Heh, always wanted to start a review like that. Anyway, in attempting to avoid a painfully awkward class trip, Scarlett Dedd accidentally kills herself - and her entire family. In finding herself Bodily Challenged, Scarlett does the only sensible thing and attempts to gain some ghostly pals - by killing her old friends.Review: I cannot possibly go any further in this review without mentioning the illustrations in this book. Not only are they clever, creative and deliciously gruesome, they are also integrated into the text in a way that I have never seen before. The storyline is melded with pictures, doodles, membership cards and coffee stains. The way that the author plays with words and pictures (see below) is fun and keeps the reader entertained. Elements like these add a sense of whimsy and macabre and would certainly enthrall any young readers.The story is told through several sources. Along side the traditional narrative style, we see Scarlett's blog, online conversations and even an interview transcript. Personally, the constant changes in perspective and style took some getting used to, however, I can appreciate the creative effort and I know that my students would find it fun and refreshing. The plot took an interesting twist when Scarlett decided to try and kill her friends so that she would have some company, but otherwise was fairly predictable.The characters are an interesting bunch. They are the artsy kids. The ones who tend to dress in black and compare recipes for fake blood rather than the latest party. While the "teen speak" feels a little forced, the characters feel like a realistic portrayal of typical teenagers. The only part that really bothered me about the secondary characters is that they don't seem particularly affected by the death of their friend. They also seem determined to exploit her current situation for fame and popularity rather than try to communicate with her. For her part, Scarlett incredibly self-absorbed, whiny and exceedingly dense. This is rather annoying for about the first half (how long does it take her to realize that her parents are also dead?) but it does get better. Eventually, she gets over her naivety and is able to put the needs of others before her own. Scarlett Dedd is certainly a book that will appeal to fans of graphic novels and to those readers who can appreciate a little blood and gore.For a taste of Scarlett Dedd, you can also follow her blog: ScarDeparted Teaching/Parental Notes:Age: 12 and upGender: BothSex: KissingViolence: Death by poisoning, several attempted murdersInappropriate Language: Retard, illustration of character gesturing with middle fingerSubstance Use/Abuse: None