Source: MTV/Galley Books
Grade: 4 stars out of 5
Hilda and best friend Benji are obsessed with celebrity deaths. One celebrity death leads them to an apartment room of Hank, an odd old bat. Hilda becomes attached to Hank in his sad, solitary room and a level of understanding when he presents her a tile from Jayne Mansfield’s pool. One day as she stops by his apartment to share in their enjoyment of old American classic films she finds not Hank in her room, but Jake—Hank’s downstairs neighbor. Jake is a 19-year-old high school dropout, Hollywood screenwriter, whose ambition led him where he is today. Jake it seems has been taking care of Hank, but Hilda is the only who will get all of Hank’s secret: One haunting enough to try to commit suicide.John Belushi is Dead is so different from the YA novels I have read so far yet it is not. What makes the novel so different are the characters: Benji, Hank, Jake, and Hilda. I find them all so completely fascinated that I would not mind if my jaw hangs open.
Benji and Hilda are fascinated with death and with Benji that obsession borders on insanity. With Hilda death provides a sense of comfort that is chilling: “Death didn’t just come for me, or my parents, it came for everyone: the rich and famous, the beautiful and privileges. The though made me relax, and I imagined the relief I felt was similar to the feeling some people got when they cut themselves” (page 53).
Hank has his own secrets that won’t necessarily surprise you, but leaves you with a fulfilled answer and a deeper depth of gratitude. Whereas Jake is slightly different than your typical male hero. He is far from the perfect man or gentlemen, but there is an instant connection, a level of comfortableness, and a wholesomeness about him that doesn’t have the need to fill the void of silence. Like Hilda says, being around him brings forth a lightness you won’t find in the many other characters in the novel.
One thing that is both an asset and a frustration was the numerous recounts of celebrity deaths. I particularly do not care for such facts, but if you are interested then John Belushi is Dead is full of them! But this was a big part of Hilda’s personality so I was quite happy with the research done.
What makes John Belushi is Dead so addictive was not for the plot, but the characters. Hilda may be obsessed with celebrity deaths, but I am obsessed with her and wherever her journey took me.
Side note, a quote that made my eyes boggled: "what the hell do ya think I'm gonna do? My cock's been useless for years. I'm lucky to get any piss out of it, let alone make it stand to attention long enough to get ym rocks off" (page 73—Hank).
I absolutely love this cover. The back cover shows the bottom half of the model and while I do not think that is what Hilda wears, it is great fashion
Order your copy: Amazon / Indie Bound / Book Depository