Dead Things Are Closer Than They Appear has stolen my heart. Not only does it feature a transracial adoptee main character – wait, that’s all I really needed. This features the rep of my dreams! Keep reading this book review of Dead Things Are Closer Than They Appear for my full thoughts.
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?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
So you’re telling me this is a magical apocalypse, zombies, and transracial adoptee representation? Did I hear that right? I fell in love with this book before I even started. Days after finishing, I am only fully obsessed. Let’s just begin with my favorite aspect: the representation. This book made me feel thoroughly seen in the ways that you can feel like a misplaced jigsaw piece. The person who doesn’t fit into the picture. All the ways our family loves us, that we know it’s not about blood, but the things that still jump out at us.
I also loved how organic and seamless this representation was. It never felt like a one off detail, it was worked into so many different aspects. I have read these ‘end of our world’ ‘magical reckoning’ book featuring marginalized characters which don’t feel so thorough and genuine. As if in the face of our eventual demise all these issues, these feelings of wrongness, the prejudice, would just magically be soothed. Not only that we could come together, but also forget these feelings encoded into our memories and relationships.
Settings & Characters
But let me pivot to the setting and characters. The setting feels like another character. It feels like it comes alive and becomes a force to be reckoned with. Maybe it’s the zombies, maybe it’s this earth shattering change, but in Dead Things Are Closer Than They Appear it takes on a life of its own. Additionally, each of the characters we get to know feel so quirky, so real, so detailed. It was my number one note about how almost immediately you get this so thorough sense of who Sid and her family are. Their nuances, memories, and pieces of love.
This character detail and work are phenomenal even as meet even more people, side characters, and prickly alliances. If you love a group crew, unlikely friendships, and characters who understand the danger of power – this is for you. Dead Things Are Closer Than They Appear is multi-faceted from start to finish. About people who want power and control under the guise of equality, but who aren’t afraid for unchecked carnage, violence, and destruction.
Like many end of the world stories, Dead Things Are Closer Than They Appear examines sacrifice and love. What we would do for the people we love. Who we would sacrifice as collateral damage. There are plenty of action scenes and interesting magic. And don’t forget the friendship dramas which was a dark horse of a favorite element of mine. Find Dead Things Are Closer Than They Appear on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon, Bookshop.org, & Blackwells.