Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review - A Bad Day For Voodoo by Jeff Strand

A Bad Day For Voodoo
Jeff Strand
Reading Level: Ages 12 and up (YA)
Trade Paperback
251 Pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: June 5th, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1-4022-6680-5


The Intro:
I’ve come to expect a certain level of raucous, titillating humor and, what I might call, impertinence in Jeff Strand’s stories and A Bad Day For Voodoo, his new, Young Adult novel is no exception. In fact, it might be the funniest and most entertaining writing he’s ever done. A Bad Day For Voodoo is a brilliantly humorous and dark take on the high school state-of-mind with irreverent (and sometimes gory) undertones and a number of highly creative and fascinating moments that are well-worth the price of faire. It’ll knock your socks off (Oh, wait…. That’s the main character and those were a couple of his toes, not his socks. My bad.) Voodoo really sucks when it works the way it’s supposed to, right? Imagine what happens when it goes spiraling out of control.

The Tie-in:
When I was in the fifth grade I had a cantankerous, old teacher (name withheld to protect the innocent – mostly every fifth grader who ever crossed her path) that I secretly wished would fall asleep at her desk and do a face plant onto her memo spike. Gasp. No! Yes. True story. (Sorry mom.) Imagine my surprise then when in A Bad Day For Voodoo the math teacher’s leg spurts off during an ill-advised voodoo experiment. I think every kid old enough to understand it will stand up and cheer when they read the opening sequence of Strand’s amusing novel. Only someone truly twisted could create a voodoo-zombie-amputation novel this engaging, let alone one that begins with a voodoo doll accident with epic consequences. Thank you, Mr. Strand for your warped sense of humor. It comforts me to know that I’m not the only perverse SOB on this dusty rock we call home.

The Clever Part:
Speaking to (or directly acknowledging) the audience, known as breaking the fourth wall, still catches me by surprises sometimes and Mr. Strand accomplished this trope with superb skill and not a little tongue-in-cheek humor. The remarkable thing is that he managed to add to the narrative flow while acknowledging his readers which made the story that much more pleasurable to read. Not that the story was NOT NOT enjoyable without it (Does that double negative make any sense?) but the perfect placement of speaking (writing) to the audience with impeccably timed transitions simply added to the overall enjoyment of the story. And the occasions when Mr. Strand employs them are clever, deliberate, and exceptionally comical.

The Premise:
High-school teenagers, no matter how reliable or responsible, should never, ever be allowed to handle voodoo dolls. Unfortunately, for certain members of this high school, voodoo is accidently deployed with serious side-effect. “Wait,” you say, “voodoo isn’t real.” Tell that to the Mr. Click, the math teacher whose leg just popped off, or to Tyler Churchill who is missing two toes due to a misguided pin-pricking. Add a voodoo doll that won’t stay put, a group of car thieves that get caught up in the coolest Abbot and Costello-like gunfight in history, a family of Basers (people that follow every religion on the planet in the firm believe that covering all the bases assures salvation,) a bizarre and spooky neighborhood, a zombie escaped from the morgue, and a pair of mysterious, unsympathetic witch-doctor-ess(es) and you begin to catch an abbreviated glimpse of the bizarre world Jeff Strand has created in A Bad Day For Voodoo. Can Tyler and his friends find and rescue his voodoo doll before someone accidently smashes in his head?

The Artist:
While A Bad Day For Voodoo is clearly marketed for consumption by Young Adults (12 and up) it’s an entertaining and worthwhile read even for those 40 years over the recommended marketing age. Here’s why. Jeff Strand has the incomparable skill of creating acts of gory gruesomeness filled with moments of dark horror and wrapping them around some very funny words in especially scary ways; words that make total sense when he strings them together “his way.” He’s one of the few writers that can make me feel squeamish and make milk squirt out of my nose at the same time. And I mean that in a good way. Sort of…

The Fun Stuff:
Some of the highlights include high-school book review advice, a missing chapter filled by an apology e-mail from the publisher, a chapter numbered to inflate your reading prowess, and a list of forthcoming books in the series. Including: A Bad Day For Witchcraft, A Bad Day For That Guy About To Get Hit By A Bus, A Bad Day For Voodoo II, A Bad Day For Taunting Llamas, A Bad Day For Voodoo 3-D, and Harry Potter Vs. A Bad Day For Voodoo. If you’re still in high school and in a pinch for good book report information Chapter 20 will be an invaluable tool. Read A Bad Day For Voodoo for that chapter alone. I mean it. You’ll go wow, cool! Chapter 28, lost due to a computer glitch, somehow manages to propel the story forward and, if you happen to make it all the way to Chapter 367 then you’ve got bragging rights and all your friends will be envious J (Okay, this probably bears explanation but I’ll let Strand do that himself when you read his book.) So, what are you waiting for? Go out and buy the book. Read it. Have fun. Just don’t stick pins in it…

The Commendations:
Recommended for fans of Urban Fantasy; Young Adult stories; action adventures; humor; dark magic; rude, teenage dialogue (I mean teenage dialogue); hilarious acts involving guns and zombies and frequent amputations; voodoo, car-chases; and anyone that enjoys an intelligent but warped sense of humor. Did I mention it was pretty funny?

The Rating:
4 ½ stars out of 5

The Blogger:
The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

The Extras:
Additional Reading:

Strand’s Official Author Site “Gleefully Macabre”

A Bad Day For Voodoo Amazon Page

Excellent Review by Elizabeth A. White

My previous review of Strand’s “Out of Whack” can be found here

The Post Script:
P.S. A Bad Day For Voodoo literally (okay, figuratively) had me on pins and needles the entire time I was reading it (bad pun intended.) Fortunately, I knew that I wouldn’t be missing body parts before the first Chapter ended. Good thing I’ve given the book a solid review, though. There’s a rumor going around on the Internet that a blogger that panned it is now missing a finger, but that just might be a weird coincidence. Or not…


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