This review is spoiler free.
“I was Kate Jordan-Ferreira.
I was fearless.”
Published: 2019, by Scholastic.
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Contains: Anger, Murder, Death, Blood/Gore, Violence, Hospitals, Disability
‘Dead Popular’ tells the story of Kate Jordan-Ferreira, House Prefect at Pankhurst. However, after the sudden death of a student within her house, she’s left confused and afraid, her power slowly draining away. With secrets spilling out within the dorms, Kate has to decide whether lying about her past is the best way to protect herself.
I’ve not had much luck with many Young Adult Thrillers in the past, however, after picking this title up at YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) earlier this year, I thought it was time for me to give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised.
Sue Wallman did a good job of capturing the characters within this book. Kate could be kind and admirable, yet also ruthless and selfish, much like those stereotyped to be. It was very clear who we were supposed to root for, who we were supposed to hate, who we were supposed to dream of knowing; the group dynamics were something to be praised on.
Kate’s character was a prime example of this, being one of the most popular girls within the school. She was the Alison of Pretty Little Liars, the Regina George of the Plastics; people listened and admired her. Yet, the development of her character was far more interesting to me. She became afraid, as event after event traumatised her, and her true colours shone. She was brave, assertive and desirable, for more reasons other than her beauty. I loved that.
Friends, Bel and Lo, were initially her sidekicks, yet their characters both developed into much more. As the plot progressed, so did the group dynamics. They became more independent, with their own quirks and goals. Over time, they became some of my favourite characters.
The setting is another plus for me, being isolated to the confines of a boarding school, away from the control of parents. It helped make the mystery so much more real to me.
However, the writing itself is where the novel fell slightly. The language is very plain and Kate’s narrative voice was one I simply couldn’t get into. Her character was intentionally depicted that way, showing her entitlement, yet it wasn’t one I could relate or gel with; her character just wasn’t for me. Yet, I will admit that it was interesting to read something from the point of view of the popular girl, rather than the lost and lonely.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The mystery keeps you on your toes, the characters are gripping enough to keep you entertained, and for a short book the plot progresses intensely.
Who’re your favourite fictional group?