Review: Dead is the New Black (Marlene Perez)

AUTHOR: Marlene Perez
SERIES: Dead Is, book 1
PUBLISHER: Harcourt Paperbacks
PAGES: 204
SOURCE: My library
GENRE: Paranormal
GIVE IT TO: perfect for MS girls
OVERALL RATING: Recommended, 3 of 5 stars

SUMMARY: Things really start to change for 16-year old Daisy when popular cheerleader shows up to school dead. Determined to discover who is stalking the cheerleading squad, Daisy joins the cheerleaders and investigates their attacks with Ryan, the son of the chief of police and Daisy’s best friend/secret crush.

WHAT I LIKED: Dead Is the New Black will appeal to middle schoolers who love paranormal mysteries. I’ve heard this series compared to Nancy Drew, and I suppose I can see that comparison. There are clues, multiple suspects, a who-done-it mystery to solve.

 I love Daisy’s family dynamic! Daisy’s father has been missing for years, so Daisy and her two older sisters are being raised by their psychic mother. I am the oldest of three girls, and we were also mainly raised by our single mother. I am speaking from experience when I say that the girls’ interactions with each other is realistic. They argue over clothes and pick at each other constantly, but there is clearly a deep underlying love among them. The older two sisters also enjoy hanging out with their youngest sister and helping her prepare for a first date. They are protective of her and try to keep her life as uncomplicated as possible. Daisy privately feels left out of a bond her older sisters have with each other, and that is also a realistic perspective. The three-sisters dynamic is done so well that it makes me wonder if author Marlene Perez is one of a sister trio herself.

Dead is the New Black is popular at my middle school, and I know several students who have read the entire series. At around 200 pages each, the books are short, action-packed, and easy to get into. The simple, brightly-colored help keep these books popular among my paranormal-loving middle schoolers.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: While it has a great start, Dead is the New Black slows in the middle. Daisy’s romantic relationship with Ryan is a little too easy; I would have loved to see more romantic tension there. Daisy also seems beyond clueless at times; she has all the clues but takes forever to put the pieces together. Many readers will see the conclusion long before the vampire is revealed.

I never really understood why Samantha started dressing in goth. I thought maybe she was really undead, a zombie walking the halls of the school. There is no good explanation for that, so I guess it was just a trend.

Predictable fun in a cute little package.


  • Language: none
  • Sexuality: mild; some kissing
  • Violence: mild; teen girls are discovered dead or near-dead; a dead body is viewed at the morgue (not described)
  • Drugs/Alcohol: none

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: We have it, and it is quite popular. I included it on our school’s Lone Star Plus list this year.

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