{Review} Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

Books, I love them. So, who am I to judge whether a book is good or bad?

We’re all different so our taste in books differs.

I taught high school language arts for twenty-six years, so I suffered from an ailment I’ll call deep-seeded-snob syndrome, DSSD. Some books I read in the privacy of my own home where I wouldn’t be caught holding a Stephen King novel in my hands—or God forbid, James Patterson.

I enjoyed these secret reads. I didn’t need to analyze them, rate them or discuss them with students. I simply climbed into their worlds, lost myself in the story and loved every minute of it.  

Reading King’s Pet Semetary late one night while lounging in bed, I came to the page where the main character’s dead cat comes back from the dead, drags its dead carcass up the stairs and leaps upon the bed. At that precise moment my own cat (clearly channeling her inner demon) leapt onto my bed. Fortunately, I avoided heart failure, but I may have screeched instead.

The point to all of this is to say, books have a place in each person’s life at its different stages and times.

After reading Gemma Halliday’s Deadly Cool this week, a bit of DSSD malady raised its ugly head. 

I thought (if I were drinking tea, my pinky would have been sticking out from a fine china cup),  

Well, this isn’t a good book. It’s too juvenile for me, too flat in its character development. It’s all right for a fifteen year old, I suppose…

Another part of my brain shouted out,

Come on! What’s wrong with you? Remember your love of Nancy Drew?

Indeed I do. I still hold good ol’ Nancy near and dear to my heart.

I dug into the memories of my youth, remembering going to the library to get another load of Nancy Drew books.  The librarian looked at me as if I were mold in her shower.

These aren’t good books. They’re all the same.


I retorted, 

They have big words in them.


Hey, it was the best comeback I had.

I read Deadly Cool because I was told it’s a modern day Nancy Drew. Hartley Featherstone, Halliday’s sleuth, is not to be underestimated for her detective prowess. The premise? Hartley’s discovered a dead girl in her boyfriend’s closet, a dead girl with whom he’d been sliding down a slippery slope of sexual experimentation. Josh, said boyfriend, goes on the run and Hartley, clever and cool sleuth, is out to solve the mystery. In her sleuthing, Hartley comes across more dead bodies and one awesome new love.

Now to the snob in me, a shameful admission on my part.

I see why younger readers would love the book, but I found myself looking down my nose at it.

And, what can I say? I enjoyed the storyline, found it entertaining, enjoyed the wit and humor, but still viewed the book with a condemnatory eye. What the heck?  I, who loved to read Stephen King novels—nearly carried them in brown paper bags so no one would know—had the nerve to sneer at a book that entertained me—and would definitely entertain its intended audience..  

Books such as Deadly Cool make readers, lovers of words out of teens. It definitely deserves a thumbs up for that alone, but for me it was ultimately a take it or leave it read.

Verdict: Meh for adults, Recommended for teens

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