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John Belushi Is Dead by Kathy Charles

John Belushi Is Dead (edition 2010)

by Kathy Charles

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617194,696 (3.94)None
Title:John Belushi Is Dead
Authors:Kathy Charles
Info:MTV (2010), Edition: Original, Paperback, 320 pages
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John Belushi Is Dead by Kathy Charles



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I loved the premise of John Belushi is Dead. As someone who is also very interested in the weird and horrifying stories of Hollywood's decadent dead I could relate to the main character and her feelings of fascination and repulsion. The book has great tidbits of information about Hollywood murder and suicides and those parts are really well done. The larger plot lines aren't so well done. I understand there needed to be a bigger story beyond the main character and her friend going around Hollywood gawking at murder sites, but the plot lines involving both the old man she befriends and the boyfriend she makes don't pay out. Both start out promising, hinting at stories untold which could tie into the bigger plot of the Hollywood murders and suicides but they fizzle unsatisfyingly at the end. The end wraps it all up too neatly and left me feeling like it all could have been done much better. ( )
  castironskillet | Aug 13, 2013 |
Wow. I absolutely fell in love with this book! I can't wait to see what Kathy Charles does next! :) Amazing. ( )
  emily.s | Apr 10, 2012 |
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

I'm usually a big fan of the surprisingly intelligent MTV Books; but while this latest is I suppose okay for what it is (a simplistic coming-of-age tale about two teens in Los Angeles obsessed with dead celebrities, and the trouble this gets them into one summer), the actual quality of the writing is much more on par with Young Adult than Actual Adult, a kind of clunkiness to it all that's very obviously designed so to not go over the heads of fourteen-year-olds. That's of course not bad if you're fourteen, which is why the book is getting as high a score today as it is; but if you're a grown-up, you'd be wise to skip this teen novel altogether, and shame on MTV Books for not making this clearer on the cover. Bait and switch is always an ugly thing, but especially in the publishing industry.

Out of 10: 7.2 ( )
  jasonpettus | May 4, 2011 |
Hilda and Benji are adolescent oddities, friends with an obsession with dead Hollywood celebrities. They spend most of their time together, visiting infamous sites related to celebrity deaths, and collecting “souvenirs” from their expeditions.

Then Hilda strikes up an unlikely friendship with Hank, a paranoid old man living by himself in an apartment where a celebrity had apparently killed himself. Her new friendship with Hank affects her friendship with Benji, and then when Hilda meets Jake, Hank’s downstairs neighbor, she is forced to question everything she thought she knew about people and herself.

MTV Books publishes this Australian import in the US—and boy, should we be grateful for it. JOHN BELUSHI IS DEAD packs an emotional punch through tight narration and a thoughtful presentation of difficult issues.

Perhaps we may not share Hilda’s fascination with dead celebrities, but we can easily relate to her struggles to find her place in the world, from her changing relationship with Benji, to her new friendships with Hank and then Jake. She’s a quiet protagonist, but that doesn’t mean she lacks personality. Like most of us reading this book, Hilda recognizes the strange compulsion of her interest, but also knows that it’s possible to take her interest too far.

The details regarding the dead celebrities feel authentic. In fact, I feel like the entire book, while having an unusual premise, just feels authentic to the teenage experience. It deals with some pretty scary issues—like when does a friendship go too far—but doesn’t do it halfway.

JOHN BELUSHI IS DEAD is a must-read for fans of “edgy” contemporary YA books similar to Stephanie Kuehnert’s. Pick this book up to be immersed in a world you thought you knew. ( )
  stephxsu | Feb 17, 2011 |
Hilda and best friend Benji are obsessed with celebrity deaths. One celebrity death leads them to an apartment room of Hank, an odd old bat. Hilda becomes attached to Hank in his sad, solitary room and a level of understanding when he presents her a tile from Jayne Mansfield’s pool. One day as she stops by his apartment to share in their enjoyment of old American classic films she finds not Hank in her room, but Jake—Hank’s downstairs neighbor. Jake is a 19-year-old high school dropout, Hollywood screenwriter, whose ambition led him where he is today. Jake it seems has been taking care of Hank, but Hilda is the only who will get all of Hank’s secret: One haunting enough to try to commit suicide.

John Belushi is Dead is so different from the YA novels I have read so far yet it is not. What makes the novel so different are the characters: Benji, Hank, Jake, and Hilda. I find them all so completely fascinated that I would not mind if my jaw hangs open.

Benji and Hilda are fascinated with death and with Benji that obsession borders on insanity. With Hilda death provides a sense of comfort that is chilling: “Death didn’t just come for me, or my parents, it came for everyone: the rich and famous, the beautiful and privileges. The though made me relax, and I imagined the relief I felt was similar to the feeling some people got when they cut themselves” (page 53).

Hank has his own secrets that won’t necessarily surprise you, but leaves you with a fulfilled answer and a deeper depth of gratitude. Whereas Jake is slightly different than your typical male hero. He is far from the perfect man or gentlemen, but there is an instant connection, a level of comfortableness, and a wholesomeness about him that doesn’t have the need to fill the void of silence. Like Hilda says, being around him brings forth a lightness you won’t find in the many other characters in the novel.

One thing that is both an asset and a frustration was the numerous recounts of celebrity deaths. I particularly do not care for such facts, but if you are interested then John Belushi is Dead is full of them! But this was a big part of Hilda’s personality so I was quite happy with the research done.

What makes John Belushi is Dead so addictive was not for the plot, but the characters. Hilda may be obsessed with celebrity deaths, but I am obsessed with her and wherever her journey took me.

Side note, a quote that made my eyes boggled: "what the hell do ya think I'm gonna do? My cock's been useless for years. I'm lucky to get any piss out of it, let alone make it stand to attention long enough to get any rocks off" (page 73—Hank). ( )
  ylin.0621 | Oct 19, 2010 |
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Seventeen-year-old Hilda Swann and her friend Benji spend their days in Los Angeles visiting scenes of celebrity deaths and suicides, but when they meet Hank, an elderly recluse who seems to have something to hide, Hilda begins to question their fascination with the macabre.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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