About the Book

Title: The Less-Dead
Published: 2009
Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Cover Story: The Less-Bad
BFF Charm: Yeah
Talky Talk: Preach It, Sister!
Bonus Factors: ATX, LGBTQ
Anti-Bonus/Bonus Factor: Poetry
Relationship Status: Show Buddy

Cover Story: The Less-Bad

I like the cover — no half faces (or any faces), the trees are pretty spooky, and the banged-up leather journal look fits the book perfectly. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the rope (and this cluttered-up version with the biblical note, even though it’s part of the story). It definitely looks like a book certain kinds of guys read — the ones who look like Tim Riggins, but hang out in grungy, indie coffee places or used bookstores and are more interested in getting their band off the ground than in doing their homework.

The Deal

Noah’s not just a preacher’s kid, he’s a radio preacher’s kid. His dad is the wildly popular Bible Answer Guy, host of a radio talk show where people can call in and get fundie answers to life’s pressing questions, like if they should or shouldn’t pluck out their eyes for coveting their neighbor’s goats and stuff like that. Noah, on the other hand, just got sent to alternative school with his bff Carson for a hash-jelly-and-music-class experiment gone awry.

A serial killer has been targeting gay foster kids around Austin, and Noah’s convinced the guy’s been calling into his dad’s show. When he and Carson head down to the Drag one Saturday to busk and get support for their band, they meet Will Reed, a fellow inmate at the Rock. Will and Noah hit it off, and when Noah realizes Will’s crushing on him, he has to face up to the same feelings of homophobia he derides in his dad.

Then Will’s killed by the serial killer, and Noah has to fight his feelings of guilt and responsibility, and heads out to catch the murderer.

BFF Charm: Yeah

Yay BFF Charm

Noah’s a great kid — a little conflicted, sure, but who wouldn’t be, if they were raised on a diet of Bible verses and youth group sing-alongs, but really felt it was all a crock of horseshit and hypocrisy? I sure would. Anyway, I’d give Noah my BFF charm, as well as a few books of actual good poetry, so he can get over his Robert Frost phase as soon as possible (hey, hey, I’m not knocking the Poet Laureate here, I’m just saying there’s a whole world out there beyond two roads diverging in a yellow wood). Also, I’d totes help him sneak into Connor’s house and shave those dreads while he slept.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

The side-plot of Noah’s doomed romance with Aubrey, the pastor’s daughter, is ok — it provides fodder for Noah’s songwriting and gives a nice little meet-cute for Noah and Will, but I honestly would much rather have read about a romance between Noah and Will. There weren’t any sparks with Aubrey and Noah, and I wasn’t all that interested in whether or not they’d get back together.

Talky Talk: Preach It, Sister!

Lurie really captures the Jesus speak of the Bible belt, as well as Noah’s inner conflict. He DOES believe in God, just not a smiting, castrating, hater God. So he does a lot of thinking about religion and how people just assume he’s an atheist because he doesn’t agree with his dad. There’s some Bible quoting, and definitely some preaching, but it’s not hard to swallow. Seriously. I grew up in the Bible belt, and had my share of knock-down, drag-outs with obnoxious zealots in high school who thought because I believed in evolution, I was going to hell (except I don’t believe in hell … whoops!), so I usually steer wicked clear of anything with a whiff of brimstone. It got a bit heavy on the conversion-talk at times, but the message of tolerance and honesty of interpretation is good, even if Lurie tends to whack you upside the head with it.

Bonus Factor: ATX

Downtown Austin skyline

Barton Springs! Guadalupe! Sixth Street! The crazy-ass mansions with balcony shower/hot-tubs! Austin is one of the coolest cities, not just because it’s FYA HQ, and its status as a blue city in a red state makes it the perfect setting for this book.

Bonus Factor: LGBTQ

Pride flag being waved in a parade

Hey, did you catch on that this is a pro-LGBTQ book yet? Cos it is!

Anti-Bonus/Bonus Factor: Poetry

Book of poetry being held open by a hand with a cup of coffee next to it

So this isn’t a poetry book, per se, but there IS poetry. Will’s a teenage poet, one of those who carries around a battered moleskin where he scribbles out his soul, and the killer leaves poetic clues — and we get to read some of it. So yay?

Relationship Status: Show Buddy

Not necessarily a book I’d hang out with all the time, but if I ran into it at at a show, I’d totes buy it a drink and trust it to skip out with me if the set sucks to catch another band somewhere else.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). The Less-Dead is available now.

Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.