Better off Dead by Matthew Rowe
Reviewed by Freya Pickard
Reading Better Off Dead was a bit like getting on a roller-coaster ride.... Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
It's a riot of colourful characters and fast-paced action. Don't blink, because you'll miss something.
Better Off Dead is a young adult fantasy with hints of science fiction and totally different from anything else I have ever read!
What I enjoyed about Rowe’s writing was the freshness of his approach. His novel does not conform to what is commonly (and I believe mistakenly) considered “correct form of writing”. And for this I am grateful. I don’t like reading “samey” novels and I certainly have never read anything like this before.
His style is quirky and comical. He enables the reader to see things his characters see. He doesn't tell at all. He shows. And boy, there is a lot to show in this novel.
He does things to the vampire and werewolf myths that no-one else has even thought of yet. His heroes are, on the whole, despicable and the tale rattles along at break-neck speeds. But there's something about his heroes that keeps you reading, makes you want them to win and come out on top.
What stops this from becoming pure teenage fantasy, is the character of Kenempti. Hers is a fully rounded character (in all senses) as a woman–goddess in a world of sex-mad, cat-hating, blood-sucking and human-slaying maniacs. Kenempti is the character I enjoyed reading about most; she can't remember things, she is the reason why everything goes wrong, she falls in love, she gets captured and frees herself, she is willing to die in order to put the world to rights...
I also found Rameses, the main character, to be of great interest and as the story developed I found myself laughing more and more as I discovered WHY he hates cats so much. He has a very good reason indeed…
Rowe has a strong narrative voice and I enjoyed his quirky use of language; so refreshing after reading too many books by people who’ve attended creative writing courses. I also liked his observations on plot and story development through Sergeant Bob.
Totally mad and totally readable, this one is definitely going to be re-read many times. If you're feeling down, tired or depressed you need to read this; it will make you laugh. And even if you're feeling fine and happy, read it, it will make you even happier!
Probably not suitable for hardcore feminists or cat-lovers without a sense of humour.
You can buy Better Off Dead at
And Matt always welcomes visitors at his website mattcannotwrite