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Wanted: Dead or In Love


Wanted: Dead or In Love

Fiction that involves historical characters interacting with the modern world --- such as WANTED: Dead or in Love --- tend to become derailed by unnecessary dalliances with today’s technology and romance that not only don’t make sense, but are out of character. Thankfully, I was happily surprised with the quality of WANTED.

The premise of the book is that Monroe --- an 18-year old girl with a criminal record to accompany her fragile scholarship to New York University (NYU) --- is knowledgeable about United States history. She was named after Marylin Monroe, and she has a particular interest in the legend of Bonnie & Clyde, romantically involved American outlaws from the Great Depression Era who were famous for several armed bank robberies and the murder of some civilians and police officers. They were eventually gunned down in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, and Monroe’s father buys the bullets that killed them in an auction.

Monroe touches them, and not only are the spirits of Bonnie & Clyde released, but Bonnie’s spirit takes hold of Monroe’s body. The conflict of the book comes from Monroe and her new friend Jack attempting to exorcise the spirits of the outlaws before they lose control of their bodies forever.

I was able to predict little that happened in the story, and I was entertained and surprised by each new plot development.

Going any further than this would spoil the plot, as the novel avoids making the obvious twists and turns. I was able to predict little that happened in the story, and I was entertained and surprised by each new plot development. The characters all felt real --- each had their own motivations and thoughts, as well as depth.

However, this novel was admittedly not without fault. A common problem with historical fiction is having historical figures act out of character, and Bonnie & Clyde were not immune to this condition. Bonnie seemed to stay in character, as most historical accounts detail her to be hopelessly in love with Clyde and consistently loyal to him. Furthermore, she was not actually the machine-gun toting maniac that history made her out to be, and Brunner makes sure that she is accurately portrayed.

However, Clyde felt a little too well-developed. By most accounts, Clyde Barrow was a boy born on the wrong side of life; his family was desperately poor, which led to his arrests in late 1926 for not returning a rental car on time and stealing turkeys. After his prison term in 1930, in which he committed his first murder --- he killed an inmate for sexually assaulting him --- he was never the same; his sister called him “a different man.” From then until his death in 1934, he killed many, many people, and was described as cold and ruthless. The Clyde in this book is, at the worst, vain, lusty and ambitious. He felt rather tame, especially in his interactions with Monroe. However, it’s almost impossible to write historical fiction without changing the character slightly, and I have probably not done as much research on Clyde Barrow as Brunner did, so I shall give her a pass.

 The novel also had a tendency to have convenient plot twists, which became noticeable after a while, and part of the reason that I couldn’t predict the novel’s plot was because I had hoped that it wouldn’t go down that path.

However, in the grand scheme of things, the book was entertaining and a page-turner, and I certainly finished it with enthusiasm.

Reviewed by Brandon L, teen board member on July 23, 2014

Wanted: Dead or In Love
by Kym Brunner

  • Publication Date: June 30, 2014
  • Genres: Thriller, Youth Fiction
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Merit Press
  • ISBN-10: 1440570574
  • ISBN-13: 9781440570575