For fans of Stranger Things... Dead Things Are Closer Than They Appear by Robin Wasley (Review & Mood Board) #newbooks #booktwitter #yalit #yabooks #fantasy @tbrbeyondtours @robinwasley

Welcome to my tour stop! I'll be adding a review, but in the
meantime, check out the book and the mood board below...

Dead Things Are Closer Than They Appear
By Robin Wasley
YA Fantasy, Magical Realism
Hardcover, Audiobook & eBook, 416 Pages
February 13, 2024 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


A painfully average teen’s life is upended by a magical apocalypse in this darkly atmospheric and sweepingly romantic novel perfect for fans of The Raven Boys, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Rest of Us Just Live Here.

High school is hard enough to survive without an apocalypse to navigate.

Sid Spencer has always been the most normal girl in her abnormal hometown, a tourist trap built over one of the fault lines that seal magic away from the world. Meanwhile, all Sid has to deal with is hair-ruining humidity, painful awkwardness, being one of four Asians in town, and her friends dumping her when they start dating each other—just days after one of the most humiliating romantic rejections faced by anyone, ever, in all of history.

Then someone kills one of the Guardians who protect the seal. The earth rips open and unleashes the magic trapped inside. Monsters crawl from the ground, no one can enter or leave, and the man behind it all is roaming the streets with a gang of violent vigilantes. Suddenly, Sid’s life becomes a lot less ordinary. When she finds out her missing brother is involved, she joins the remaining Guardians, desperate to find him and close the fault line for good.

Fighting through hordes of living corpses and uncontrollable growths of forest, Sid and a ragtag crew of would-be heroes are the only thing standing between their town and the end of the world as they know it. Between magic, murderers, and burgeoning crushes, Sid must survive being a perfectly normal girl caught in a perfectly abnormal apocalypse.

Only—how can someone so ordinary make it in such an extraordinary world?

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My Review

DEAD THINGS ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR is one of those stories where you don't know what to expect and what you find is much more than you were hoping for. It's full of family relationships, by blood but mostly found with an emphasis on adopted, as well as friendships and then more of working relationships (like I have to fight with you but I don't know that I would chose to know you). It's set in a small town with a larger-than-life traumatizing event where basically all hell breaks loose. If you enjoy shows like Stranger Things or with apocalyptic monsters and humans who are equally evil, then this is definitely one to pick up! Plus, there are also some very sweet moments of wisdom, romance, and heart.

I really, really loved these characters! Not to say that I didn't have some frustrations and reservations, because I did, but I felt they were relatable and real. Take Sid for instance. She is not the leading will-cut-down-zombies-without-blinking-an-eye leading lady. She is scared and weak and freaks out. I think most of us when faced with something so unreal would take some time adjusting. I appreciated that she had weaknesses and strengths, which allowed her character to also develop and grow as the story goes. And develop it does. This was the same for almost all of the characters, even fierce and removed Eleni. There's also Brian who holds so much grief inside that it hurts while also building like a bomb, and also carries a fierce protection for his sisters that extends to others. He comes off a bit like the usual bad boy, but as well all the characters in this motley crew, none of them quite fit the usual stereotypes because they're a lot more complex and they change over the course of this story. There is also Angel and Shandy with their relationship that is lightly woven in this story. Sometimes gay relationships are pushed in books with a message that feels forced (as can be with religious or inspirational messages, romance or with anything), but in this story, it felt like a natural part and I appreciated that. 

I also want to talk just a bit about the plot itself. It moved at a really good pace. There were several climatic moments that built to the final and most intense one, but there were also some moments of downtime and reconvening. The romantic aspects of this story I also really liked. They didn't feel construed, fell naturally into this story and were sweet. I liked that there was so much creativity and how the author allowed it to unfold with all these different characters. Everything didn't go perfectly and didn't tie up in a perfect bow at the end, which I also appreciated. There was danger, people got hurt and killed, there was heartbreak and evil, but there was also perseverance, sacrifice, friendship, love and joy. All the feels, guys. All the feels.

I also noted a few nuggets of wisdom I highlighted. These aren't all of them in this story, but these are the ones I wanted to share that connected with me right now in my life:

   "Sometimes I wonder about empathy," I say then. "Do we always have to feel something ourselves in order to understand someone else?"
   She contemplates that. "I think it depends on the person. There's no right way or wrong way. If one assumes all empathy to look the same way, they are therefore expecting everyone to behave the way they do . . . which is not empathetic, is it?: She leans forward, elbows on her knees. "[There are] always going to be people we can't relate to, people we'll never love, people we'll never meet. In those situations, you have the opportunity to see how far your empathy can be stretched."
   "Some people suck, though," I mutter.
   "Whether someone is worthy of empathy isn't something you need to decide. You do get to decide if it's something you wish to extend to someone. It it'll harm you or not. Caring for yourself and caring for others is a balance."

"People make mistakes, but you know now that you get to choose the person you want to be. It's not a straight path, there are obstacles, and the journey never ends. But you're not alone on the road."

"Every person makes an impact in some way, average or not," I say. "We change one another."

In the end, was it what I wished for? This book surprised me, in a very good way. I loved the motley crew that forms, the lovable characters, all the relationship dynamics as well as the creative, page-turning plot. I'll definitely be looking forward to this author's next release!

Content: Swearing (including s and f-words), crude comments/descriptions, some detailed violence (including people dying by zombies and other humans, as well as some torture), a gay relationship.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through TBR and Beyond Tours, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Mood Board

About the Author

Robin Wasley is a YA fantasy writer with a soft spot for orphans, found families, and funny girls with no special skills who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. She grew up in a family of adoptees, never truly seeing herself reflected in the books she devoured. As an adult, when she saw an Asian American girl on the cover of a YA book for the first time, she cried.

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