John Belushi is Dead by Kathy Charles
IN THE END WE ALL FADE TO BLACK.
Pink-haired Hilda and oddball loner Benji are not your typical teenagers. Instead of going to parties or hanging out at the mall, they comb the city streets and suburban culs-de-sac of Los Angeles for sites of celebrity murder and suicide. Bound by their interest in the macabre, Hilda and Benji neglect their schoolwork and their social lives in favor of prowling the most notorious crime scenes in Hollywood history and collecting odd mementos of celebrity death.
Hilda and Benji’s morbid pastime takes an unexpected turn when they meet Hank, the elderly, reclusive tenant of a dilapidated Echo Park apartment where a silent movie star once stabbed himself to death with a pair of scissors. Hilda feels a strange connection with Hank and comes to care deeply for her paranoid new friend as they watch old movies together and chat the sweltering afternoons away. But when Hank’s downstairs neighbor Jake, a handsome screenwriter, inserts himself into the equation and begins to hint at Hank’s terrible secrets, Hilda must decide what it is she’s come to Echo Park searching for . . . and whether her fascination with death is worth missing out on life.
Hilda has always felt a bit odd. Together with her best friend, Benji, they prowl the sites where celebrities have died, sometimes taking away a piece of history to remember it. When one apartment they come across has an old man living there, Hilda and Hank form a bizarre friendship. When Hank's downstairs neighbour, Jake, brings himself into the equation, Hilda starts to discover that Hank is hiding a dark secret. As Hilda's new relationships grow, she starts to question whether her fascination with death is making her miss out on life.
I did not know what I was getting myself into when I opened the first page of John Belushi is Dead, but I was not disappointed. From the first page, the reader is introduced to Hilda and her macabre friend, Benji. The two have a bizarre fascination with the dead - especially dead celebrities. All the characters are well thought out and believable, which made some parts of the story gut-wrenchingly realistic. I loved Hilda (and her pink hair) and the journey she took throughout the novel was full of enough twists and turns to keep me reading.
The premise of this story is unique, and even though some of the scenes were confronting and graphic, I couldn't put it down. Besides the melancholic tones, there's also the subtle romance that blooms between Hilda and Jake. His introduction to the story turned the whole plot upside down, which is a good thing because I was never able to see where it was going.
This is an emotional story which will appeal to anyone with the slightest bit of morbid curiosity, or anyone who has ever been interested in a death of a celebrity.
Recommend: Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe
2011 Aussie YA Reading Challenge: #1 of 12
2011 YA Reading Challenge: #8 of 50
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