Thursday, August 26, 2010

Review: John Belushi Is Dead by Kathy Charles (Blog Tour)

Title: John Belushi is Dead
Author: Kathy Charles
Available: Now
Publisher: MTV Books
Number of Pages: 320
Reading Level: Young Adult

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Description provided by publisher:

Pink-haired Hilda and oddball loner Benji, both high school seniors, have an obsessive and unusual hobby: they frequent the places where Hollywood celebrities have died. Bound by their interest in the macabre, Hilda and Benji neglect their schoolwork and social lives in favor of prowling the most notorious crime scenes in Los Angeles. Hilda knows her own interest has more than a little to do with her parents’ recent death in a car accident, but doesn’t understand why Benji shares her fascination so deeply.  In rundown Echo Park, a seedy suburb of Los Angeles, they find the squalid apartment where a second-rate silent movie star stabbed himself to death. Its current tenant is Hank, an old man with a mysterious past. Hilda finds herself drawn to Hank in a way she can’t explain, and soon the two strike up an unlikely friendship. But when Hank’s aspiring screenwriter neighbor Jake tries to insert himself into the equation, Hilda’s life becomes more complicated than she ever could have imagined. And who is the real threat to her precarious balancing act? Is it Jake or Benji? 

My thoughts: 

Hilda and Benji have a morbid fascination with death. Spending most of their time together traveling to the sites of famous murders and overdoses. As Benji starts to take the death obsession to a point that makes Hilda uncomfortable, she starts to pull away. Orphaned and living with her workaholic aunt, she finds a most unlikely friends in Hank, a reclusive senior citizen. As she actively tries to get Hank to disclose his secrets, she reveals a few of her own as well. The closer she grows to Hank the more she seems to realize how unhealthy Benji’s behavior truly is. When Hank’s neighbor, Jake, suddenly enters the picture Hilda finds herself smitten even with Hank’s warnings not to trust him. She also finds herself lying to Benji which seems to push him further to the edge. Poor Hilda is feeling pulled in several directions, and unable to decide who to trust.

John Belushi is Dead was a delightfully disturbing read, and another amazing debut novel. Not a book for the squeamish as it delves into great detail regarding the demise of many prominent celebrities. Don’t let the pretty cover fool you. This is a gritty and dark read with a few moments of sunshine. 

The plot moved quickly, and was littered with celebrity trivia. I love the great detail the author went into while describing the many locations Hilda visited, as well as the tragedies that occurred there. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Hilda in the beginning, but once her relationship with Hank blossomed I found her delightful. Benji was thoroughly damaged, and quite frightening at times. As uncomfortable as some of the death talk made me, I couldn’t stop reading. Hilda is one of those characters you want to see come out on top. 

A great read for older teens and adults alike. I loved experiencing another 2010 debut that was seriously full of awesome. Kathy Charles has an amazing “voice” for story telling. I can’t wait to see more from this author.

Kathy Charles on the web:

Order from Amazon:

*Received from the publisher in exchange for my review.


  1. I really loved this book, too! :)

  2. Brilliant review! The cover wouldn't normally catch me, but I love the sound of it :)

    I'm a new follower of your blog, and I think it's lovely!

  3. Great review. This cover intrigues me.

  4. Thank you so much for such a lovely review Christie! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Great review, I've heard good things about this one but didn't really know what it was about, it sounds like something I'd really like, thanks for the rec!

  6. The fact that you characterized it as delightfully disturbing makes me want to read this book - great review!