BOOK REPORT for The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff

Cover Story: Spooktastic
BFF Charm: Eventually and Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 3ish?
Talky Talk: Sparse
Arty Art: Old School Meets New School
Bonus Factor: Ghost Marriage
Relationship Status: Starter Boyfriend

Undertaking Lily Chen

Cover Story: Spooktastic

Continue reading >


 

The skull imagery invokes just the right amount of eeriness for this story. And the double meaning in the tagline is the cherry on top of this gorgeous cover sundae.

The Deal:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man no longer in possession of a life must be in want of a wife. Or at least that’s how it goes when Wei Li dies, and it’s up to his brother Deshi to find someone to spend eternity with him.

Enter Lily Chen: beautiful, vibrant...only just not quite dead. Like, at all. You can see where this is headed, right?

BFF Charm: Eventually and Yay

BFF Eventually - Lily chen

Y’know, I feel for Deshi. He’s motivated by the guilt he has over Wei’s death, and he’s always been unfavorably compared to his big bro, who continues to overshadow Deshi even in death. There’s a twisted sweetness to Deshi not wanting to bury his brother with a decayed corpse that, er, he grave robs. But then his objective shifts to making a fresh corpse bride, so being a female friend of his would mean constant fear of matchmaking, if you know what I mean. So, uh, Deshi—let’s hang out after your brother’s funeral, OK?

BFF Lily Chen

When Lily meets Deshi—ghost marriage plan unbeknownst to her—she sees running away with the wandering traveler as a far better alternative to getting married off to settle her family’s debt. (Which: YEAH.) Seeing her through Deshi’s eyes, Lily can come off as too talkative and materialistic, but she’s just a friendly and outspoken girl who dreams of a better life. And who could fault her for that?

Swoonworthy Scale: 3ish?

The whole thinking-about-killing-you-and-marrying-you-off-to-my-dead-brother thing makes Deshi and Lily an unconventional couple to ship, to say the least. She gets on his nerves, and he’s not too keen on getting to know his potential murder victim. But the moment when Deshi’s annoyance becomes infatuation is done so well, that I really did want these crazy kids to make it work—when I overlooked those dubious circumstances, that is.

Talky Talk: Sparse

Even though Lily herself is a chatterbox, there are often pages and pages with minimal, if any, dialogue; that old saying “a picture says a thousand words” def. comes to mind.

Arty Art: Old School Meets New School

Speaking of those pictures, the stylized characters are set against watercolor backdrops of Chinese countryside. The homage to ink wash paintings makes for some incredible illustrations.

Lily Chen Illustration

Bonus Factor: Ghost Marriage

 Ghost Marriage

I’m only familiar with other Chinese traditions for honoring the dead, so it was fascinating to learn more about ghost marriages and how it’s still being practiced today.

Casting Call:

Kelly Sry

Kelly Sry as Deshi

Fred Wu’s endearing charm could do wonders for Deshi’s likability from the get-go.

Nan Zhang

Nan Zhang as Lily

Lily always looks super stylish (I WANT THAT YELLOW DRESS), so who better to play her than a Gossip Girl?

Relationship Status: Starter Boyfriend

I’ve gone out with graphic novels before, but this is the first nonsuperhero one that I’ve read—and a good one to start with. While we might not be spending eternity together, this unique story might just have converted me into a graphic novel dater.

The Undertaking of Lily Chen is available now.

Mandy lives in Edmonton, AB, where she does science-y things for work, bloggish things for Forever Young Adult, and froyo things for always.