Famous Last Words by Katie Alender (2014)

20894023Glitz, glamor, horror, and humor collide in a Hollywood murder mystery complete with cute boys and sinister spirits.

Recommended grade level: 7-10

Pages: 320 (for ISBN 9780545639972)

Genre(s) and keywords: horror, mystery

Tone/Style: ominous, humorous

Pace: fast

Topics: ghosts, serial killers, Hollywood, murder

Themes: guilt, perfection, responsibility to family

Summary: Willa is freaking out. It seems like she’s seeing things. Like a dead body in her swimming pool. Frantic messages on her walls. A reflection that isn’t her own. It’s almost as if someone — or something — is trying to send her a message.

Meanwhile, a killer is stalking Los Angeles — a killer who reenacts famous movie murder scenes. Could Willa’s strange visions have to do with these unsolved murders? Or is she going crazy? And who can she confide in? There’s Marnie, her new friend who may not be totally trustworthy. And there’s Reed, who’s ridiculously handsome and seems to get Willa. There’s also Wyatt, who’s super smart but unhealthily obsessed with the Hollywood Killer.

All Willa knows is, she has to confront the possible-ghost in her house, or she just might lose her mind . . . or her life. (Source)

Who will like this book?: The blend of horror, humor, and Hollywood glamor give this book wide appeal. Readers looking for a bit of blood, guts, and poltergeist activity mixed in with their teen-girl drama will find a lot to love here.

Who won’t like this book?: The book includes some disturbing situations (it felt a little Dexter-like to me at parts), and there are horrors both human and supernatural. Don’t suggest this to anyone who isn’t enthusiastically on board with being freaked out. The focus on crushes and a red-caret run-in will likely turn off a lot of boys. The book also deals with Willa’s father’s death and her guilt over it; since it’s in the context of horror, this may not be the right choice for grieving readers.

Other comments: The tone is surprisingly light considering the dark subject matter, and humor is sprinkled liberally throughout. It’s an unusual mash-up.

Sequel(s):

Readalikes: Alender has several other horror titles in the same vein as this one, and has been releasing new ones regularly. Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series is similar in tone, but with more action and without the horror. Booklist sites Kendare Blake and Kami Garcia as similar authors.

-Kylie Peters

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