Deadly Cool - Gemma Halliday

Deadly Cool

This was a quick read of a fast paced, entertaining novel, told from the POV of 16 year old Hartley Featherstone who just learned that her boyfriend, Josh, is cheating on her and then finds the girl he’s cheating on her with in his closet – dead.

This book feels like a mash up of a number of teenage drama TV shows and high school flicks, set in a predominantly white, middle-class world, with all the relevant tropes exaggerated to a point it feels like parody. It’s ridiculous and really quite entertaining. My pleasure reading this was completely due to Hartley’s narrative, whose recounts of her plunging headfirst into all kinds of embarrassing or dangerous situations are quick-witted, snarky, cheeky and never take themselves too seriously. There’s quite a bit of banter and it’s done nicely.

While I wasn’t hooked on the whole murder mystery and Hartley’s attempts at solving it, the use of very contemporary details (gadgetry, pop cultural references etc.) made up for the lack of originality in the plot. And again, Hartley is a very likeable character. No goodie-two-shoes, no Mary Sue. She’s cool, she’s bitchy, she’s deadpan, and above all believable. I couldn’t stop wondering why the police not once stopped to inquire why Hartley was found at various scenes of crime and wonder what she might have to do with the murders. After all, jealousy and the sense of betrayal are veritable motives that should have made her a number one suspect. But I guess that this would have added darker tones to an intentionally light, fluffy read.

As I might have already mentioned above, it all comes down to Hartley being an endearing narrator. I have learnt to abhor first-person narrators in YA literature, because the invariably turn out to be moping, self-obsessed and self-deceiving brats (yes, I realise that I might be a little bit judgemental and holding a grudge here) and, thankfully, Hatley is the complete opposite.

I just opened my copy of the book at random, saw this, and had to smile:

She spun on me, eyes narrowed. “You better, Hartley Featherstone, or I’m gonna hunt you down and beat you senseless.”
Scary thing? I totally believed her.
“Right. Cool. No problem. Hey, you can totally count on me. Okay, well, I’m gonna just go now,” I said, slowly backing away.
“I know where you live, Hartley!” she yelled after me. “This is all your fault!”
Why did everyone think that stumbling on dead bodies was somehow my fault? Like I wanted to stumble on them. Like this was my idea of a good time. Trust me, between wearing braces for the entirety of my high school experience and finding one more dead body, I’d totally take the metal mouth torture. (page 185)