Once Dead, Twice Shy (Madison Avery, Book 1)

Once Dead, Twice Shy - Kim Harrison "Once Dead, Twice Shy" is a sometimes interesting urban fantasy about a young woman named Madison Avery who dies at the hands of a reaper, but hovers somewhere between life and death after she steals the reaper's pendant. From that point on, she's a moving target of the reaper who tried to kill her, but with the help of a guardian angel and light reaper (a reaper who tries to prevent dark reapers from taking souls), she has to fend off the advances of the one who wants to kill her, as well as her friend Josh. The premise makes it out to be much better than it is, but my biggest issue with "Once Dead, Twice Shy" is that it flip flops in terms of its audience. On one hand, the style of the writing seems to talk down to a YA audience, making it seem more middle grade. However, reading through the book, the language and themes of the work make it clear that this is not a middle grade book, so...I'm torn as to how to classify this book. Combined with many instances where the author's telling things instead of showing them, I thought that the book never met its full potential, and it took much longer to read despite being a shorter story than most urban-fantasy works. Madison herself is a bit of whiny protagonist in a lot of denial about the roles she has to take on, so it was hard to like her, and I often found myself irritated in many places at the way she repeatedly doesn't want or accept her roles. I guess it would be one thing if she had a little more internal bargaining and expansion on why she's so steadfast against it, but the reasons given don't really hold that much weight. Thus, it feels like she's angsting more than it having relevant weight. The side characters were a little more likable, including Barnabas, who serves as the light reaper that protects her. The guardian angel, Grace, is actually quite funny and cute when she comes up in certain scenes, and I think some of the humor of the book came across in that character. I wish I could say that these characters came across as more dimensional, but sadly they weren't. In the end, I think this is a book that, if you're looking for a fluffy read and you don't mind the reading level to be slightly below the intended age group, it might be worth pursuing, but I really find it difficult to recommend. I'm going to see if the second book improves upon the series any, but I'll admit that I'm not ecstatic about it.Overall score: 1.5/5