In Lily Anderson‘s fantasy/magical realism/supernatural YA UNDEAD GIRL GANG, 16-year-old Mila, already Othered as the only fat Afro-Latina Wiccan in the tiny town of Cross Creek, has a huge problem: Her best/only friend Riley (ostracized for living above a funeral home) was the most recent death in an apparent suicide pact. But Mila refuses to except that cause of death as fact.
Fortunately, A week before she died, Riley had a grimoire mailed to the girls’ secret hang out. Mila is almost sure she has the Lazarus spell right, but unfortunately brings back both Riley and the two dead meangirls Dayton and June.
With a week left back on Earth, the uneasy foursome vow to track down the killer using Mila’s spotty magic. But first, they have to deal with an angry coven on motorcycles, intrigue around a prestigious scholarship scholarship, secret ex-boyfriends, serious skin problems, and rumors about a pack of teenage zombies roaming town.
I won’t argue with Wikipedia: UNDEAD GIRL GANG is like Heathers x The Craft, except way cooler. Specifically, fat, 16-year-old narrator Mila, navigates a bittersweet and heartbreaking story, with a her sharp tongue hilariously skewering everything wrong with the white male patriarchy.
“All the feels” and “made me laugh and cry” our book review clichés that have absolutely been done to death, but this book is one of the rare instances in which they truly apply.
Mila’s numerous one-liners like
I bet she’s one of those white women who order in Spanish at Mexican restaurants
One cannot survive on buttered noodles and self-righteousness alone! And stop using ‘white’ as code for ‘normal”.
So… want to start the Fat Brown Girl clique?
all make UNDEAD GIRL GANG prime meme-worthy movie material. (Take note, Hollywood).
Caveat: A grieving teenager has to read the book all the way through. I’ve been a bereaved child; I’ve had a family member die of apparent suicide. It seems like it is common* to fantasize on either count that there’s been a mistake, that your loved one is coming back. Obviously neither are reality.
Mila has some help doing it, but she does come to the conclusion, that while Riley’s accident/June and Dayton’s murders were horrible, using the grimoire to resurrect them was also wrong. even with their futures stolen from them, the (un)dead girls make peace with their return to Heaven.
(That’s where you break out the tissues).
At the end of the day though, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a funny mystery in my life, all the plot twists kept me metaphorically turning the pages (I used Audible) and all in all, this was an awesome purchase. I just wish I hadn’t let it linger on my TBR for so long.
Also, the contrarian in me loves that UNDEAD GIRL GANG leaves us seeing that even without the magic bullets of boyfriend/popularity/slenderness (Thank your chosen DEITY humanity has evolved past my gateway YA, Sweet Valley High) and with us still seeing she’s going to be OK.
I usually review ARCs, but not this time: UNDEAD GIRL GANG is out now in audio, paperback, and hardback from Razorbill.
*This is anecdotally speaking; I am not a mental health professional and have always chosen/been chosen by eccentric friends.
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