The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff
review with gifs (do not own any)
Written By Lauren
copy from publisher, but all opinions are my own
Official Summary: In The Undertaking of Lily Chen, Deshi, a hapless young man living in northern China, is suddenly expelled from ordinary life when his brother dies in an accident. Holding Deshi responsible for his brother’s death, his parents send him on a mission to acquire a corpse bride to accompany his brother into the afterlife, in accordance with an ancient Chinese tradition that has many modern adherents. Eligible dead girls are in short supply, however. When Deshi falls into company with a young–and single–woman named Lily, he sees a solution to his problems. The only hitch is that willful, tart-tongued Lily is still very much alive. As Deshi and Lily adventure through a breathtaking mountain landscape, meeting a host of eccentric characters and dangerous adversaries along the way, Deshi just can’t decide whether to kiss the girl or to kill her.
Review: I have seen various bloggers do reviews full of gifs, and while I don’t normally do so here, I often find them enjoyable. Therefore, I thought I’d share my thoughts about this graphic novel with a gif here and there. First off, a bit more about the book – Deshi’s older brother has passed away and his parents believe in this old idea of acquiring a corpse bride for the deceased so they are not alone in the afterlife. Deshi is sent to find a dead body worthy of his brother, but he eventually meets a girl named Lily. As you can see from the summary above, Deshi either has “to kiss the girl or to kill her.” What a dilemma, huh?
When I first thought about the idea of a corpse bride, I was immediately brought to the image of the movie by Tim Burton.
Deshi would only be so lucky to find an adorable, dead girl instead of having to decide whether he should really kill a living, innocent one to fulfill his parents wishes. The idea seems so absurd, but it’s easy to imagine people living by such old beliefs. Plus, Deshi feels fully responsible for his brother’s death and this is the only way to make things up to his parents.
Throughout the book, Deshi is desperately trying to find a suitable corpse bride, while Lily Chen continues to follow him on his journey. She believes he is going to his brother’s wedding, which is true just without all the gory details, and she wants to escape her family as her father wishes to marry her off to one of the town idiots.
This is a long graphic novel, but it does read quickly and there are many illustrations without words, where Novgorodoff shows off the landscape and the various travels the characters are going on. Besides Deshi and Lily, there are moments with Song (who Deshi paid to find him a corpse bride) as well as Lily’s dad, who believes a young man kidnapped his daughter.
I would definitely recommend this to older teens as there are some adult moments, though nothing too graphic.
I’m glad to have had the chance to read this novel as it certainly dealt with some interesting issues. It’s something I would never have picked up on my own, and while I still wouldn’t say it’s “buy-worthy” for me, I’d recommend it to people interested in other countries and their customs. I really appreciated how Deshi and Lily believed in different things. On one side is Deshi who clearly lives a bit in the past, and on the other is Lily, who wants a modern, happy life. It’s an interesting dynamic as their journey continues.