ARC Review: The Dead List by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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4.5 creepy clown stars

I am a mad fan of all things JLA, but there’s just something about the way she writes young adult that makes her YA reads my favourites. She captures the feel so perfectly, that I’m always instantly swept up in her stories, and this one was no different – except in this case, she also freaked me the hell out with the thriller/horror storyline, and I felt like I was in the middle of the most beautiful love story and a 90s teen slasher film. It’s not a genre that I usually go for, but the two parts of the story are balanced so well, and I really loved this one! The Dead List was originally published by JLA on Wattpad, but it’s been resurrected, tidied up and republished, and OMG, it’s so good!

Ella is beginning her senior year at high school, and she’s planning on making it a great one as she gears up to leave her home town and move across the country to go to College. But her plans go awry when she is viciously attacked when leaving a party one night. Somebody tries to kill her – a person wearing a creepy clown mask brutally attacks and tries to kidnap and strangle her – and she narrowly escapes thanks to the help of her childhood friend Jensen.

Ella and Jensen grew up together, and we are given glimpses into the history between them and their friends, seeing moments from their past, and getting hints to a mysterious even that changed everything for them. And now, Jensen is back in town and seems set on becoming a part of Ella’s life again

But strange things are happening. Ella has the feeling that she is being watched, clown masks and dead birds are being left where she can find them, and then people start to go missing and dead bodies appear. The killer is still out there, and he seems to be targeting those around her. And with Ella being continually tormented, she doesn’t know who she can trust.

OMG, this book is freaky. It’s descriptive and horror-like, but it’s also psychologically scary as we’re inside Ella’s head and she’s trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not, and who could be behind the horrifying acts that are unfolding all around her.

But in the middle of it all, there’s the love story and it is gorgeous! There’s so much to Jensen’s story that Ella doesn’t know, and as they rediscover each other, they fall into first, all-consuming love, and every moment of it was just beautiful.

“I want to be that guy – the one that when your phone rings, you hope it’s me. The one who holds your hand in the hallway and at lunch. The guy who gets to hold you. I want to be the one who gets to touch you,” he whispered against my cheek. “I want to be yours”.

Jensen is by Ella’s side through the doubt, the danger and the fear, and the swooning over the two of them, watching things progress for them, provides a great distraction from the not-so-pleasant aspects of the story. But as the clock ticks down, the story twists and turns, and I was guessing and theorising madly. I honestly had no clue who the bad guy was, and I thought that the reveal was a great surprise – and slightly terrifying as it all played out.

This read was so much fun. It was different for me, but I trusted JLA, and I’m so glad I read it! It’s heartpoundingly scary and gorgeously romantic, with a strong, sassy heroine that is all kinds of awesome, and a swoony teen romantic hero that you can’t help but love. Just a warning – don’t read when you’re home alone at night (because I was seriously too creeped out to even leave my bed at one point).

I loved it – 4.5 stars.

Check our our Jennifer L. Armentrout Author Spotlight for more fantastic reads from this author.


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