Thursday, August 26, 2010

review: john belushi is dead by kathy charles

If all the celebrity gossip shows and magazines are any indication, many people are Hollywood-obsessed. High school student Hilda and her friend Benji are as well, but with a bit of a twist—they only care about the dead celebs. No one understands their obsession, so they hang out even though Hilda thinks Benji’s morbidity has started to go too far. She begins to pull away when she doesn’t like how Benji treats Hank, an old man who lives in the apartment where a silent film star committed suicide. Instead of seeking out old Hollywood haunts with Benji, Hilda tries to coax Hank into the world. She discovers somewhat of an ally in Hank’s neighbor, Jake, who just happens to be attractive and age-appropriate. But all three of these relationships put Hilda in a difficult place. With Benji, she has no idea how to help a boy whose death obsession is heading toward cruelty. That situation ramps up when Benji obtains a gun. Then there’s Hank, who Hilda may have pushed too far when she got him to attend a movie screening at a cemetery. He’s harboring a secret from World War II—a secret that Jake, a screenwriter, wants to know. Hilda fears Jake is only using them for his next screenplay, but he’s also her chance at romance.

Hilda is one amazing girl. Although she has a hard time connecting with anyone (she survived the car crash that killed her parents and should’ve definitely gone into therapy), she shows a huge amount of empathy for someone she met only briefly. When Hank reached out, she was there. Hilda was always my reason for reading; had John Belushi is Dead been about someone like Benji, the macabre nature of the book would’ve been nearly impossible to take. And yet, I felt Benji should’ve been developed more. The extreme he goes to at the end might have made more sense if there’d been more background. The quick succession of trauma at the end, though not unexpected, and yes, very emotional, simply jarred a bit too much.
Review copy provided by the publisher, MTV Books.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book, I did a review as well, I am going to link your review to mine :).Great review!