Pretend I'm Dead by Jen Beagin Genre: New Adult, Humour Positives: + Mona has a very distinct voice even with third person perspective. + Her life feels messy, real & lived in. + Supporting cast of oddballs. + Frequently funny. Negatives: - Starts strong but loses focus. - Definitely not for the easily offended (warnings for a little bit of everything offensive!). - Something was missing. I never felt really connected or invested in Mona’s fate.
3 Stars,  Mini Reviews

Mini Review | Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin

⭐⭐⭐ 3/5 Stars – Strong character voice with a messy, lived in life and a cast of oddballs

This was one I had actually read the kindle sample for and was very excited about reading. Then forgot about for months. But I finally got around to it!

I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to, it was fun in a grimy way but it just lacked something to get my really excited about it.

What I liked

  • Mona has such a strong and distinct character voice that at first I didn’t realise that it was third person perspective until another character was introduced!
  • Her life feels messy, and lived in in a realistic way. It’s chaotic, and concerning, but sadly believable.
  • The supporting cast of characters are a bunch of fun oddballs (Mr Disgusting, Yoko and Yoko, Betty, Johnny), perhaps bordering on the cartoonish but I enjoyed that vibe.
  • It is frequently funny. It was usually Mona’s response to other characters that had me cracking up. I really enjoyed the visuals when she was attempting to spy on Johnny.

What didn’t work

  • The sample had got me hooked, and it does start very strong but I found it lost focus in the final two thirds (post-Mr Disgusting). The plot just becomes a little aimless, but then so does Mona.,
  • This is not a book for anyone easily offended. While I do think that most of the wilder criticism I’ve seen in Goodreads reviews is reaching1 there are a few racist slurs, and it does deal with childhood sexual abuse in an uncomfortable way. Some of these things did feel like they were for shock value because ultimately to me the book felt it lacked substance.
  • Something was missing. I definitely felt empathy and very sad for her shitty childhood, but I never felt connected or engaged with Mona. I struggled to relate to her I think. I was happy to be along for her journey but in the end I don’t feel like anything resonated.

I don’t think I’m going to remember this one in 6 months, but I’m interested to read Big Swiss still by the same author. If I can find it on a deal!

  1. You know the kind where its clear the reviewer was reading looking of things to be offended by. I saw this in several reviews – there is no bestiality in this book, Mona finds some hidden erotic fiction a client wrote in a pile of other sick taboo stuff (incest etc). Nobody hurts any animals. ↩︎
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