In my opinion, the beauty of its prose is what makes the YA novel, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield stand out. I think Rosenfield made a conscious choice in how she wrote this novel, in terms of style and layout. The end result is certainly an effective and almost poetic read.
Regarding the characters in the book, a number of my classmates felt
that Amelia Anne stood out as a more vibrant character than Becca. I
actually found James to be the most interesting and dynamic character in
the novel. I certainly found him to be the most likable. One student
in our group raised the question of how the author managed to make us
care so much about Amelia Anne when we know from the first page (and
the title) that she is dead. Does the knowledge of her impending death
somehow imbue her scenes with more urgency?
Ultimately, those who were not satisfied with the book attributed it
to the fact that, in their opinions, it did not fulfill their
expectations of the mystery genre, which raised the question of whether
conventions are as well established in the YA market. We seemed to
agree that there is more flexibility in genre expectations of a YA
novel, which allows an author to experiment a bit more in the writing
of a YA novel.
(WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD)
I think it’s interesting that some readers found the added scenes
about the town or about Brendan’s death to be extraneous and perhaps
unnecessary. In my opinion, these were the scenes that added true depth
and originality to the story. The charm of this book, I think, lies
in its depiction of the small town, which certainly served as a
character in and of itself.
The idea that gossip is the lifeblood of the town and that everyone
knows everything literally seeps from the pages. In fact, this is why
the death of Amelia Anne is so disturbing to the inhabitants of the
town. Her identity, her killer, the reasons behind her death are all
unknown. The town’s inability to keep anything secret is a nice
contrast against the one event no one talks about - the day three women
visited the house of a mother in mourning, an outsider who is like a
ghost wandering their town. The fact that James was one of the boys who
witnessed Brendan’s death, to me, makes that scene critical to the
book. James has known too much death in his lifetime and in two cases,
has been asked to become a participant in the act of dying, to provide a
victim the ease of death. In many ways, this too is the poetry and
beauty of this book - that death is horrible and often violent, but in
some cases, can become a blessing in and of itself.