Written by C.J. Skuse
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The Lovereading4Kids comment
February 2013 Book of the Month Very funny and touching, this is a refreshingly original teen novel which stirs traditional themes into a thought provoking mix of science and more. Newly into sixth form college, Camille - unfortunately named after the painter because her parents didn’t realise it was not a female name – struggles to get a handle on friends, dating and the rest. But then she meets Zoe digging in the graveyard…Zoe gives Camille a new and surprising interest in life. Suddenly, being a teenager seems much more interesting!
C.J. Skuse shows us how finding the best bits of a boy is surprisingly difficult – especially when it's a heart of gold that you truly, deeply want.
This is a hilarious, moving, tiny bit sad, gloriously redemptive (yes!), unique mix from a totally brilliant new talent. You’ll never ask for a . . . hand . . . with anything again!
In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for Dead Romantic a small number of teenagers were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. Scroll down to read them.
Dead Romantic by C.J. Skuse
Camille wants to find the perfect boy, with an athlete's body and a poet's brain. But when she's mocked at a college party, she kows there isn't a boy alive who'll ever measure up. Enter Zoe, her brilliant but strange best friend, who takes biology homework to a whole new level. She can create Camille's dream boy, Frankenstein-stylee. But can she make him love her?
A Q&A with CJ Skuse
Your new book, Dead Romantic, has a Frankenstein-vibe, but also a (kind of bizarre) love story at its heart. Would you say it’s a dark comedy with a bit of romance or a romance with a bit of black comedy?
I would say it’s a romance with a big dollop of black comedy and a few body parts scattered around.
Camille, one of the central characters in the book, is so endearing – especially the way she gets her words in a muddle (‘… a pigment of his imagination …’). Is she based on anyone you know?
No. When I first began to write it, Camille was what I imagined Cree from Rockoholic would grow up to be. Then she became a little bit like Pandora from Series 3-4 of Skins. Then she just became Camille. This is what happens to all my characters; they start of as someone famous and by the end (with any luck) they become who they were always supposed to be.
Has the idea for this book been brewing for a long time, or did it just come to you?
The phrase ‘teen grave robbers’ jumped into my head as I was walking to work one morning past a churchyard, and then I drew on the inspirations of writers who had played with this idea before, like H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Louis Stephenson and John Hughes (whose 1985 movie Weird Science was about two teenage boys who create the perfect woman using their computer). I really loved that movie when I was growing up and thought there was time for a female version of it.
If you had to make your very own perfect boy out of body parts, whose (past or future) grave would you be digging? What in your opinion makes the perfect boy – does the perfect boy even exist?
I would dig several graves because of course no man is that perfect as to be in one complete package. I’d try and find a dead male gymnast as I think they have the best physiques and probably Gerard Way’s head and maybe Shakespeare’s brain. But I don’t think I would go down that road because I’ve kind of proved with this book that this is really not the way to go about finding a future life partner. It just opens up a whole can of worms that you can’t ever close again. I also don’t want to go to prison just yet and certainly not for grave robbing. In my opinion, the perfect boy or girl doesn’t exist; but the perfect boy or girl for you must exist and if you’re very lucky you will find them or they will find you.
Your books always a have a bit of a crazy edge to them – do you have any exciting, crazy new ideas up your sleeve?
Yes. Lots. My sleeve is quite full at the moment. The next idea I’m working on kicks crazy’s ass. It’s INSANE. No really. It makes kidnapping rock stars and reanimating boyfriends look like Peter Rabbit.
So who is our love interest in this one?
Well there’s a choice. There’s the main man, of course, Sexy Dead Boy. He’ll have you in stitches ; ) there’s Damian, a cross between Jay from The Inbetweeners and Del Boy; there’s Splodge, the rugby scrum half with piano-player’s hands and a face like a baby who has fallen face first into a pizza, and there’s Louis who’s short, shy, has odd taste in clothes and works in a funeral parlour. Take your pick.
You have a great mix of female characters in your books (Paisley in Pretty Bad Things, Jody in Rockoholic, Camille and Zoe in Dead Romantic). Which of these do you think is most like you?
Jody, without a doubt. She’s annoying, she makes bad decisions, has little common sense and needs a full-time carer to keep pointing her in the right direction. She also obsesses and can never see the wood for the trees. Totally me. Paisley is me on a very bad day and with no verbal filter. Camille is me aged about 14 when I was always turning up to parties in the wrong outfits and secretly still playing with my dolls’ house when all my friends were getting into drugs and under boys.
Which character in the story are you particularly close to?
I empathise with Camille, in the sense that she is trying too hard to find her perfect thing when actually, he’s right in front of her all along. I’m fussy like that too. And I empathise with her strange friend Zoe, who doesn’t let people into her life easily and has just lost someone very close to her. As a result she has put up very high defences around her emotions, which only someone like Camille can break down.
How did writing this book compare to writing Pretty Bad Things and Rockoholic?
This was the hardest of the three to write. I had doubts about it the whole way and it went through two full rewrites. But I felt strongly about the story I wanted to tell and that it was Camille who I wanted to tell it for me so I ploughed on through and I’m really happy with it.
Any advice for a potential reader before they enter the world of C.J. Skuse once again? Is there anything we should know, i.e. Be afraid, be very afraid...?
Just come with your sense of humour intact and leave your sensible head at the door. And don’t phone, it’s just for fun.
Trinity Hickford I really like the way the whole story built up tension......I just wanted to read even more and more and more...Click here to read the full review.
Hollie Compton, 15 Great for people who like romantic books with a twist.Click hereto read the full review.
Chloe Sheehan From the first page I was hooked!! It's a normal teenage life story with a twist…Click here to read the full review.
Delilah Acworth Dead Romantic was a wonderful book with a very unusual but exiting plot. Click here to read the full review.
Daniella Hares Dead Romantic is not like a book I have read before. It is strangely addictive Click here to read the full review.
Georgina 15 The character development in this book is great, as Camille becomes more grounded and Zoe more lovable, making them more of a dynamic duo. Click here to read the full review.
Hannah Glenton The narrative was witty and jam-packed with some real out-of-the-box phrases and descriptions. Click here to read the full review.
About the Author
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Chicken House Ltd
4th February 2013
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