Jennie Lovell's life is the very picture of love and loss. First she is orphaned and forced to live at the mercy of her stingy, indifferent relatives. The her fiance falls on the battlefield, leaving her heartbroken and alone. Jennie struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, but is haunted by a mysterious figure that refuses to let her bury the past.
When Jennie forms an unlikely alliance with a spirit photographer, she begins to uncover secrets about the man she thought she loved. With her sanity on edge and her life in the balance, can Jennie expose the chilling truth before someone - or something - stops her? (book back blurb)
Throughout the entire book I felt it hard to actually connect with Jennie. We're thrown right into the action of the plot and told about her past so splattered throughout the story that I feel I just don't know her well enough to really care. That's not to say the story wasn't good, nor was Jennie not a good character. I was just detached from her situation, like I was watching a TV show play out before me.
It wasn't until the very end that I really felt anything for her but I have to say, the ending was fantastic and quite possibly the best part of the book. The last couple of chapters, where the charade started to unravel, had me turning page after page after page to find out what's going on. The rest of the story was interesting enough although I think the spirit photography wasn't as in the forefront as it's portrayed as being. It plays a catalyst for certain plot points in the story but really stays in the background for the most part.
I did like how the story added some validity to the Spiritualist movement. While the spirit photographer was widely a hoax, some of the things that happened to Jennie's photos were rather hard to explain and even if they could be, they were rather enormously coincidental to be, well, a coincidence.
For me the secondary characters were much more three dimensional than Jennie herself was. I loved Aunt, in all her bitchtastic attitude. She was just a character that begged to be loved to hated. Even Quincey was quite a dynamic character. He was such a train wreck - I couldn't keep my eyes off of him, especially at the end. Very much bat shit but it made him all the more interesting to read.
I loved the drawings. They added so much more depth to the story, as if I were paging through Jennie's scrapbook myself. The script was hard to read sometimes but the photos were creepy, so solemn and morbid, most without actually intending to be so. They just made the overall feel of the story that much better.
Picture the Dead was a good read, especially at the end where some real girl power and suck it attitude comes into play, but I still had a distance with it. I wish I could have connected more with Jennie. Maybe if there was a little more exposition at the beginning to give us a better understanding of just where Jennie came from and why her situation was the way it was would have helped. But it is what it is.
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