Top critical review
Boy meets ghost girl, boy falls in love with ghost girl, boy loses ghost girl
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on June 28, 2012
First of all, I want to point out that the star-rating I gave this book is completely based on my personal enjoyment of the book - not my judgment of the quality of the writing.
This book went on sale a few weeks back and after reading a few reviews that said this was really "too dark" for Young Adult classification, I decided to give it a go. After all, I love ghost stories and I loved the Harry Potter books which were intended for children. It seemed like a good fit.
"Anna Dressed in Blood" started off with great excitement and was a pleasant read all the way through. I liked the characters (dead and alive) and felt they were "fleshed out" enough for the purposes of the story. But here is where the story, although well constructed and populated with interesting characters (mostly teenagers), lost me - it was, despite opinions to the contrary from several other reviewers, most definitely a Very Young Adult/Teen novel.
The "darkness" cited by everyone as the reason it was inappropriate for young readers was safely within the tolerance range for 11-15 year olds in my opinion. Keeping in mind that this is the opinion of someone who read "Rosemary's Baby" at 12-years-old because she couldn't get in to see the "R" rated movie in 1968, so this seems pretty lightweight compared to that.
The story is told from the POV of the 17-year-old protagonist who has to move frequently giving him the typical outsider status that most teenagers can relate to. But he is also a very confident and likable character who manages, despite his outsider status, to make a few close friends. The plot, although it does have its very scary moments and a bit of gore, is mostly fluff. I started to get a little bored about 60% through the book, but not because of any fault of the writing or plot, just that the story was taking a path that was no longer compelling to me, but most certainly would be interesting to a younger audience.
Although several reviewers commented on the inappropriate use of profanity in a book targeted at a Young Adult audience, I found:
1) there wasn't very MUCH profanity,
2) considering the situations in which the 17-year-old protagonist used profanity, it would have been unrealistic if he HADN'T used profanity, and
3) any time profanity was used in the presence of adults, the protagonist was reprimanded and he was appropriately and sincerely apologetic.
I would definitely recommend this to the 11-15 year old group, but I don't feel that it has the kind of universal appeal that would make it a compelling read for anyone over 16 years old.