Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Review: Only the Good Die Young by Chris Marie Green

Title: Only the Good Die Young
Author: Chris Marie Green
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Jensen Murphy, Ghost for Hire #1

Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages

Publication: February 4, 2014 by Roc

Source: I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a honest review.

You know the theory that ghosts are energy trapped when someone dies violently? It’s true. I know it for a fact...

My name is Jensen Murphy, and thirty years ago I was just an ordinary California girl. I had friends, family, a guy who might be The One. Ordinary—until I became a statistic, one of the unsolved murders of the year. Afterwards, I didn’t go anywhere in pursuit of any bright light—I stayed under the oak tree where my body was found, and relived my death, over an over. So when a psychic named Amanda Lee Minter pulled me out of that loop into the real world, I was very grateful. 

So I’m now a ghost-at-large—rescued by Amanda (I found out) to be a supernatural snoop. I’m helping her uncover a killer (not mine—she promises me we’ll get to that) which should be easy for a spirit. Except that I’ve found out that even ghosts have enemies, human—and otherwise…

Only the Good Die Young is the first installment in a brand new Urban Fantasy series by Chris Marie Green. I have a couple of Mrs. Green’s novels on my shelf (having won them from her release party) but haven’t gotten around to them yet. But when Mrs. Green offered bloggers a chance to review her new Jensen Murphy series; I immediately jumped at the opportunity because Only the Good Die Young is one of my most anticipated reads of 2014.

Only the Good Die Young is narrated in first person POV by our heroine Jensen Murphy. Jensen Murphy was murdered in the Elfin Woods thirty years ago and was trapped in a time loop reliving her death over and over again until physic Amanda Lee pulled her out of it. After getting out of the time loop, Jensen learns the rope of what it’s like being a ghost and about the world since she last left it; how advanced technology has gotten over the thirty years, people with their cell phones, iPod/mp3, and portable laptops. But the main reason that Amanda Lee rescued Jensen from the time loop is because she needs Jensen’s help in solving a murder case from 3 years earlier; a murder case near and dear to her heart.

I don’t know what I expected when starting this book, but I definitely was surprised at how tamed and light the story was. I guess since the book featured a ghost protagonist, I thought there would be that scary-creep factor but Jensen was more Casper the friendly ghost than the lady from The Grudge. But it doesn't mean that I didn't like Jensen, I do. You’d think that someone that died violently (I’m guessing since there was a hint that an ax was used) and was murdered like Jensen was that she’d be a vengeful spirit but that wasn't the case. When Jensen learned that she was tasked to find who killed Elizabeth Dalton (who died young and horribly as she did) she was really gung-ho about seeking justice for Elizabeth and her friends/family that she left behind on earth. Though I must say I was shocked that Jensen put a stranger’s murder case before hers, and that she didn't ask too many questions regarding her savior Amanda Lee. But the good news is that Amanda promised Jensen that after they find Elizabeth’s killer, they’d work on finding her killer next.

My favorite aspects of the novel were the information on ghosts and the mystery. I do believe in ghosts, especially when everyone in my family experienced or saw something that can’t be explained…but I don’t know much about the make-up of ghosts. I found Green’s explanations on ghost extremely interesting, whether she researched it or made it up. For example some of the things Jensen/and the other ghosts were able to do in the book was not the usual haunting that one might think, although there was the occasional energy fluxes that causes the electronics to go haywire. However, Jensen was able to cause hallucinations when she touched a person or if she delved deeper she would be able to see/feel a person memory or enter their dream state and be more corporal. Also ghosts are somewhat made up of energy, so when Jensen exerted herself too much in a haunting or would travel too far from her death place she’d need to recharge herself by extracting energy from electronics/cable-power lines.

As for the mystery itself, I thought it was well done. It kept me on my toes the entire way through. I was shocked when the killer was revealed and the turn of events towards the end was the biggest surprise. I didn't see it coming at all. The book started out slow with nothing much happening in my opinion…Jensen used some of her new ghost abilities hoping to scare information out of the Edgett family but by the 300 page mark the book morphed into what I was waiting for…a more intense and dark read.

Overall, Only the Good Die Young is a good start to a new series. The first half of the book is more like 3 stars and the last half 5 stars. I would have probably given this book a higher rating if the beginning of the book had match the feel of the last half of the book. While the book got off to a bumpy start, I am happy with how the overall story played out and am interested in seeing where this series goes that I’ll be back for a sequel. If you’re a fan of ghost and Urban Fantasy like I am, I’d recommend picking this series up and giving it a try. It didn't blow me away by any means but I’d say this book is worth reading.

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