I Woke Up Dead at the Mall
Imagine going from being alive and in New York one minute to being dead in a super mall in Minnesota the next. This is exactly what happened to Sarah Evans in I WOKE UP DEAD AT THE MALL, Judy Sheehan's debut novel. Sarah lives (well, lived) in New York with her father and mother, until her mother died in a car accident when Sarah was seven. Ever since then, Sarah has tried to suppress her psychic power, referred to as the "Knowing," because she believes she could have saved her mother.
Fast forward years later, when Sarah’s father and step-mother are getting married, and Sarah ends up murdered. At first, Sarah doesn't understand how she could’ve been murdered. She had no enemies, no problems with anyone, and even if she did, they were definitely not enough to have her murdered. But she quickly learns that she must move on if she wants to continue happily, and not end up like The Walkers, zombie-like people who are hung up on their deaths to the point where it consumes all of their thoughts and days. With the help of the other murdered teen New Yorkers, Sarah wants to find her murderer in order to move on, and ends up finding love along the way, too.
"The book is light, simple and a fun read, and all of the characters are so engaging, they don’t seem like secondary characters...I cannot wait to read more from this great author."
In I WOKE UP DEAD AT THE MALL, Sheehan writes a colorful and interesting take on teen ghost stories, a genre which I wasn’t sure existed until now. The book is light, simple and a fun read, and all of the characters are so engaging, they don’t seem like secondary characters. Although the story isn’t meant to be continued, I would love to see this get turned into a series about the other characters’ lives. This would also give the fans a chance to delve a little deeper into the murders and lives of these characters, who were so glossed over, it made their deaths seem like they didn’t happen. Some of these characters (I’m looking at you, Lacey) go through such an incredible growth, that I would love for that to be explored in more detail. However, the romance between Sarah and Nick didn’t seem genuine, and even though it was cute, Nick moved on to Sarah too quickly in order for it to be believable.
Most books about death and grieving tend to be dark and serious. However, I WOKE UP DEAD AT THE MALL explores the theme of death so well that the book is almost satirical. It’s a backwards way of looking at grief, and is something I would recommend to most young adult readers. Many of readers this age tend to experience a big loss, and in a way, this book's comic nature makes coping with loss that much easier. All in all, this is a great book, and I cannot wait to read more from this great author!
Reviewed by Dally M., Teen Board Member on March 28, 2016