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Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner

Title: The Dead I Know
Author: Scot Gardner

Release Date: 1st May 2011

My Rating: 4/5

Aaron Rowe walks in his sleep. He has dreams he can't explain, and memories he can't recover. Death doesn't scare him - his new job may even be his salvation. But if he doesn't discover the truth about his hidden past soon, he may fall asleep one night and never wake up.

In A Nutshell:
I loved The Dead I Know. It was suspenseful, heart-breaking, touching and hopeful. It can get a bit dark at times so I would recommend it for ages 15+.

My Review:
The Dead I Know begins with a lot of mystery surrounding our main character Aaron. He has shown up for his first day working at a funeral parlour looking worse for wear and with an antisocial attitude. We don't know a lot about him except that he's a bit of a loner, lives in a caravan park with Mam, who we assume to be his mother, and that she has some kind of mental illness. Because of Mam's apparent illness, Aaron has to play the role of the parent the majority of the time and since it is just him and Mam, there is a lot sitting on his young shoulders. On top of this, he's having trouble with his violent and drug-addicted neighbour and he has recently started sleepwalking and having disturbing nightmares. It is evident he is troubled but the question is, what traumatic memories are hidden away in his subconscious?

"If Mam were an alcoholic, her mental state would be easy to explain. If she'd taken drugs or had an accident, her luck-of-the-draw world would make more sense. Sometimes she was lucid and practical; other times she was a stormy two-year-old. There was no rhyme or flow, just what she was served. Yet, for all her shifting states, she never woke with a stranger's broken hairbrush in her hand."

Aaron needs mindless, repetitive tasks to stay focused and keep himself calm, meaning being an assistant at a funeral home is perfect for him. He doesn't have a problem with death. That doesn't however make him a morbid, angry teenager wanting to kill everyone.... he just understands it. I know that the fact the book is set in a funeral home might deter some people from picking it up, but please don't let it stop you. There are a couple of moments when you might get a tad squeamish but it's really not the focus of the book. It's about Aaron and whether or not he can put his past behind him and find peace of mind.

"The police protected the living, ambulance officers protected the injured and we protected the dead. All as it should be."

The Barton's, who own the funeral parlour, are such lovely people and I thought that John Barton was the perfect person to help Aaron during this particularly difficult time. John takes him under his wing, subtly providing him with a support network without Aaron really realising it. Throughout the story, Aaron's past slowly comes to light, expertly drawn from him by John's precocious 12-year-old daughter Skye (who I started off really disliking but quickly found the value of her personality). What we come to realise is that Aaron is a broken boy struggling with not only the horror of his past (which is so tragically sad!), but also the pain, pressure and denial that comes with having a loved one suffering from dementia (something I am all too familiar with).

I honestly really loved The Dead I Know. It was suspenseful, heart-breaking, touching and hopeful. I read the whole thing in one sitting, I was just so desperate to know what had happened to Aaron and that he would be ok. I really came to care for him as a character and was able to identify with him in reference to his struggles with Mam. Recommended for ages 15+

And if that's not enough, it comes recommended by John Marsden, "I have never read a book more gripping, nor more triumphantly alive"

Thankyou to Allen and Unwin for providing me with this review copy.


  1. Great review, this sounds fantastic, and with a recommend from John Marsden it's a must read!

  2. Great review Jess. I need to write my review for this still. You summed it up wonderfully :)

  3. awesome review Jess :)

    and that john marsden quote (!) oh my gosh.

    I completely want to read this now :)

    xx Nomes

  4. i have read this book and loved every moment i is an amasing book
    a must read!!!!


  5. i love the book the dead i know when i first took it home my parents were a bit worried and even more so when i described it to them in the end my mom read it and loved it so yea and im only 13 so i think that its not a 15+ book 13+ is more like it.

  6. What do you think would happen to Aaron in ten years?


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