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Shallow graves by Kali Wallace

Shallow graves

by Kali Wallace

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I don't know about this book it was just okay.
A year after her death Breezy finds herself crawling out of her grave in a non-zombie fashion. The man who finds her is suddenly shocked into death by the touch of her hands but he wasn't just an innocent bystander. She could tell that it wasn't his first time dealing with a dead body in fact he probably caused the death of a few somebodies at some point. As she navigates around the country Breezy finds a surprising amount of killers on the streets, some whom no one would ever suspect. Stuck being unable to eat, sleep, or die she sets out looking for a purpose. What she finds is a crazy cult, people with just as weird characteristics as hers, and a secret hidden from humans for thousands of years.
I apologize for that terrible summary but it's the best way I could wrap my head around this plot. After reading this I thought it was good but the more I thought about it the more I got confused. Before I started reading I was under the impression it was going to be a swashbuckling thrilling adventure into the new realms of being a revenant but was given a thriller fantasy novel. But the problem is that I wasn't thrilled. There was little mystery surrounding the death of our protagonist because I had the same two suspects, one of which was a throwaway character that I dismissed shortly after she was never mentioned again. I didn't get that sense of urgency when she had her close encounter with the cult and the hidden world from humans sounded just as silly as she felt it was.
The more I think about it the less I like it. It's not a bad book but I didn't have the right mindset to read it. It's a good light thriller but not as 'edge-of-your-seat reading' as I'd like it to be. ( )
  Jessika.C | Jul 15, 2016 |
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.

Breezy is many things. She could be described variously as a teenager, undead, biracial, bisexual... And yet, she is most strongly and ferociously herself. She is a scientist. She is disciplined. She truly is the type of person who devotes herself to a profession and works from a young age to reach the stars.

And it is this beautifully drawn depth of character that allows the reader to immerse themselves into this dark and unknown world alongside our own. The realism of her experiences make even the most fantastical elements of her life emotionally resonant. Breezy's scientific mindset that allows her to catalog and explore her undeath, even as she tries to process the unimaginable grief of her own death. The losses pile up, her family, her professional aspirations, her future... all either lost forever or changed so radically as to be unrecognizable. The mundane mystery of her own death felt harder to believe than Breezy's grief that she will never become an astronaut, as somehow the emotional state of an undead teenage becomes more visceral than the petty evils that do exist in real life.

While Breezy explores the world around her through a scientific lense, SHALLOW GRAVES doesn't feel dry or clinical. Rather, this oh so human attempt to build a rational concept of this new dark, unexpected world made the most fantastical elements feel real. While the world building has strengths and weaknesses, the main character rock solid. I enjoyed this book, but above and beyond that, I loved Breezy.

Sexual content: References to sex. ( )
  Capnrandm | Apr 12, 2016 |
On my list of Best Zombies in YA, Shallow Graves ranks high, right after The Reapers Are the Angels and Raising Stony Mayhall.

I enjoy the playgrounds located in gray zones, especially when there's a killer who only murders other killers. (Think: Dexter Morgan or John Cleaver as popular examples.) Are they good for ridding the world of evil-doers? Is what they're doing righteous in some twisted way? Is murder ever justified, morally or ethically?

In Shallow Graves, the monster with a conscience is a 17-year-old girl who just so happens to be sorta, kinda, but not all the way dead. Her name is Breezy, she's half-Chinese, half-Irish, bisexual, and she wants to be an astronaut on the first manned mission to Mars. Or, at least, she was all those things when she was alive, back when she was human, before she was a zombie who craves killers, not brains.

Recommended to readers who want a dark fantasy with horrorish elements, who don't mind an occasional non-linear timeline, who want to read something with little to no romance, and/or just plain want something different than the usual mainstream YA book.

4 stars (Whatever Wallace writes next, I'm excited to read it.)

P.S. I don't think this book needs a sequel but I would love to read a companion novel (or three). The world-building is solid; the characters are there, waiting. Breezy, Zeke, Jake, Violet, Esme, Lyle, Mother, even Rain -- potentially endless storylines to explore.

[Note to editors - in hardcover edition published January 2016:
"I'm not a serial killer, I'm promise." should be I not I'm (p. 11)
"She thinks I'm going become a vengeful murderer who kills..." missing to between going and become (p. 175)
"I wasn't even sure if I could believe that it was question without an answer." missing a between was and question (p. 176)
"It was compact and low, creeping close the ground." missing to between the and ground (p. 185)] ( )
  flying_monkeys | Mar 23, 2016 |
17 year old Breezy is on the cusp of adulthood. She's about to graduate high school and has made plans to follow her dream to become an astronaut. The future looks bright until she takes a fateful walk home and wakes up a year later in her own shallow grave. Birds fall out of the sky announcing Breezy's return and she kills the man who helps her crawl out of the grave. Breezy knows that she cannot go home but has no plan about what to do now and so she hitchhikes across country, performing experiments to see just how indestructible she is now. Breezy's life might have gone on that way if she had not run into a group of religious zealots determined to rid the world of its monsters.

Wallace jumps right into this story with little set up about what is going on. This is a little bit disconcerting at first but presents a challenge to figure out exactly what is going on with Breezy. Shallow Graves is told completely from Breezy's perspective which gives us an inside track into what she is thinking. Normally, I'm not overly fond of young protagonists but in this case, Breezy certainly didn't read like the seventeen year old that Wallace set her up to be. Breezy was thoughtful, curious, analytical and very smart. Even though Dark Graves is an incredibly dark story, I found myself genuinely liking Breezy and her penchant for killing murderers.

Wallace has set up Shallow Graves as a one off and that's really a shame. I feel as though she left a lot of unanswered questions at the end of the book, leaving it feeling somewhat unfinished. Part of the problem is that Wallace seemed to keep switching directions in the story. First, we have Breezy kidnapped by a religious cult who are convinced that the so-called monsters are all evil and must be eradicated to protect humanity. Breezy manages to make her escape with a Nightmare and learns that monsters are simply part of nature and have been labelled as monsters because humanity is afraid of that which it doesn't understand. Breezy happens to then shack up with a pair of gouls who are brothers but she is plagued by the idea that the darkness which is inside her can be removed. Breezy then heads off to see what the cult calls mother and learns that one must really be careful what one wishes for. Breezy then decides that has to deal with the person who killed her.

Unfortunately, Shallow Graves also meanders around. I am fine with a story not having a linear narrative but having a non linear narrative and then repeating knowledge just a few pages later is irksome to say the least. It felt as though Wallace was trying to draw out Shallow Graves so that he would be longer than a short story. This problem could easily have been solved if Shallow Graves didn't skitter about the place and if it had invested more in world building. We learn that Breezy is a revenant, that humans can do magic but it requires a death and that there are multiple creatures coexisting with humanity. We learn nothing about how magical creatures are organized, or any of their history. Even Breezy's interactions with ghouls doesn't make much sense. Why exactly do they feel compelled to help and shelter her? Why do they care where she ends up? Why do they advise her? They know nothing about her and barely understand what she is but there the brothers are playing tour guide of the monster world and functioning as a convenient taxi when needed. So much more could have been done with these characters and instead what we got was repetition about Breezy being dead, not knowing how it happened and her death count.

Shallow Graves is the first book that I've read in a long time to have a marginalized protagonist. Breezy is both a woman of colour and bisexual. Breezy is half Chinese but Wallace includes no real cultural markers to her character. I did find it a bit stereotypical that Breezy had no problems with math and science but struggled with humanities; however, that being said, it informed her personality in a way that I haven't seen in some time. While Breezy's experiments in suicide reminded too much of Heroes (save the cheerleader save the world) how she used scientific anecdotes to explain her feelings and how the world viewed her is great. Even before Breezy became a revenant, as much as Breezy was interested in science, mathematics and space, she was always interested in death.

Breezy however does experience racism. When she goes to a party at the Fordhams, Mrs. Fordham asks her daughter, "Why don't you ask that nice Oriental girl to help you study? They're very good at school, you know. It's a part of their culture" Despite how extremely offensive this comment is, Breezy doesn't respond to the woman at all. On a page concerning Breezy's disappearance, someone writes, "Ran away with an older boyfriend, maybe she promised to love him long time, get it, it's just a joke, don't be so easily offended." Since this is just a comment online, Breezy doesn't really have the opportunity to respond. This however makes two instances of racist commentary where Breezy is silent and in fact, expresses no opinion on what it feels like to be targeted with hate speech. Unfortunately, the only time racism is called out is falsely. When Rain confronts Zeke about his hatred of humans, she calls him a racist. Zeke fearing humans is rational, particularly given that humans have a history of hunting down people like him and killing them without warning or cause.

Read More ( )
  FangsfortheFantasy | Mar 14, 2016 |
Really more three and a half stars. I liked it a lot, but unless it's the start to a series (or at least a duology), there's just too much left hanging at the end. (Who or what is Mother? What happens to Willow's "congregation" when he disappears?)

On the other hand: great characters, solid world-building, and strong writing make for a great read. ( )
  BillieBook | Mar 1, 2016 |
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For my parents
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The first time I killed a man it was an accident.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062366203, Hardcover)

After waking in a shallow grave, Breezy, a high school senior, crosses the country seeking answers about her death and resurrection, discovering along the way a host of supernatural creatures, as well as a human cult determined to "free" them at any cost.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 26 Aug 2015 23:55:15 -0400)

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