Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blog Tour: The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner (REVIEW)

Genre:Young Adult, Contemporary, Drama, Psychological Thriller
Publication.Date  August 1st 2012
Published By:  Razorbill Canada
WebsiteScot Gardner 

The Dead I Know - Goodreads
My review copy:An ARC of the book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Where to get:

When Aaron gets a job at a funeral home, he surprisingly takes to it. But there are dark secrets hidden in Aaron’s subconscious. 
He experiences dangerous bouts of sleepwalking and recurring dreams he can’t explain: a lifeless hand, a lipsticked mouth, a man, 
a gun... Can he piece the clues together and fi gure out the truth of his past? For ages 14+.

When sleep is not a sanctuary, darkness sometimes is. When the mess of human activity nags at you, the ocean can make you deaf with its rhythmic wash.
It wasn't the still body that unmade me. It wasn't the flowers or the solemnity of the occasion. It was the people. The seething sea of emotion that filled the room to the rafters. The reddened eyes and the quiet sniffles, the hands held tight. They were each marked with the disease - the unmistakable symptoms of grief - and the very air I breathed was infecting me.
I smiled. It was an automatic defence mechanism. Like a moth with owl eyes on its wings or a lizard with a frill. Don't get too close, kids, if this creature gets alarmed, he smiles uncontrollably. 
There was the unknown, the dark, the cold and the emptiness to contend with out there, but those concepts are all relative. Cold compared to what? A dead hand? Dark compared to what? Unblinking eyes? At times the ocean seemed full beside my emptiness. At times it was the one knowable thing in my world.

     Powerful, haunting, and absolutely unforgettable, The Dead I Know is not Scot Gardner's first novel, or even the first one to win him recognition, but it's the first one of his books published in Canada, and one that you simply can't afford to miss. It's a tour-the-force examination of the always difficult subject of death, grief and coping with the loss of a loved one. Above all, though, it's a heart-wrenching insight into one boy's tragic life and a deeply affecting, thought-provoking and unsettling look at his psyche

     Aaron Rowe lives with his grandma, Mam, in a caravan park. He just got hired for a three-month trial as a funeral director at JKB Funerals, and is working hard, doing everything in his power to prove to his boss that he's the right man for the job. The dead don't affect him much, as he doesn't feel much in general. He's numb and withdrawn, and he doesn't speak a whole lot. He keeps to himself. There's a lot on Aaron's mind these days. His grandma isn't acting normal, her mental state getting worse with every passing day. On top of that, Aaron is a somnambulist and his sleepwalking has been getting way out of hand. Mentally exhausted, confused, and scared, Aaron has to find a way to get his life back under control, before someone (possibly himself) gets hurt.

     At only 200 pages long The Dead I Know is a fairly quick read, but also one that will grip you from the first to final page. I honestly don't think you will be able to put this book down. I know I couldn't. I'm not big on reading back blurbs, they're usually more of a spoiler than a teaser, so I try my best to avoid them. I'd rather take my chances with a book and go into reading it blindfolded. When I sat down with this novel I had no expectations what-so-ever, besides a vague idea that this might be one of those light and amusing paranormal reads (based on the cover). Boy, was I wrong! From the opening lines this book delivers nothing but an exquisite literary performance and beautifully crafted, disquieting plot line. It reads more like an adult contemporary novel than your typical YA (it's as far from light and fluffy as it gets), and it prays on the most basic human fears: of death, mental illness, and being absolutely and utterly alone. This book affected me on a very personal level, as my own grand-grandma died from dementia, and I know exactly what it means to take care of a person suffering from mental disease, how physically demanding and emotionally draining it is, and just how extremely powerless and terrified it makes you feel. Scot Gardner did a phenomenal job conveying all these emotions and realities of a dementia-affected household, he brought tears to my eyes and left me speechless. When I turned the last page I didn't put the book down and simply moved on with my every-day life, I sat there hugging it close to my heart, thinking about both the storyline and my own past. 

     I was deeply impressed with the author's ability to tackle the subject of death, grief, mental sickness, and growing up without parents with such exceptional honesty, sensitivity and thoughtfulness. This story feels very intimate, it's full of small moments and situations that have a strong emotional impact on the reader. The narrative voice is all-too real and convincing, to the degree that you almost feel embarrassed. Like you're reading someone else's diary or spying on a stranger through a keyhole. I also loved the construction of the plot - you never fully understand what's going on until the very end of the book. There are clues and pieces of information scattered throughout the story, then there are also Aaron's feverish dreams and blackouts, but it's all very vague and mysterious. I liked that. The tension and the heavy, dark atmosphere, combined with the concise, well thought-out plot line, made this book a deliciously readable treat. 

     I can't recommend this book enough! It's not a long read and I really hope you'll find time to squeeze it in your reading schedules, it's definitely a must-read!

This review was posted as part of the blog tour for The Dead I Know organized by Penguin Canada.

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Jessie Marie said...

Woah. I feel like I just took a punch to the stomach - breathless. From a look at the cover, it looks like a light read but your review leads me to believe just the opposite. I like stories that are hard and gritty like this so it's definitely going on my "Next To Get" list.

Great review, as always.

Amy said...

Ohh this sounds awesome!! It sounds like it really pulls out your emotions. I am definitely adding this to my forever growing TBR list.

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

Beautiful review. Interesting that this reads more like an adult contemporary. I hope that more of his books will be published in Canada in the future!

roro said...

this going on my wishlist tnx evie

Randi M said...

This probably isn't something that I would have picked up, but knowing that it really is hard-hitting non-fluffy book makes me curious. Sounds like my kind of read. It's going on the list! Great review, Evie.

Randi @ Cardigans, Coffee and Bookmarks

Natalia Belikov @ Dazzling Reads said...

Phenomenal review my dear <3

Scot Gardner brought tears to your eyes, you brought tears to mine.

Thanks for sharing such powerful and personal thoughts.

Sydney said...

I don't normally read YA contemporary novels, but I love mysteries and thrillers! Thank you for reviewing The Dead I Know!

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