Monday, February 25, 2013

One ghost, two ghost, red ghost, blue ghost

No, they don't really come in colors, I'm just riffing off of Dr. Seuss because it's that kind of day...

I just read Break My Heart 1,000 Times, by Daniel Waters, so I'm feeling a bit haunted. In this suspenseful thriller, Veronica and her suburban neighborhood have survived "the Event," an unspecified disaster that took the lives of millions "in the city" (also unspecified). For some reason, though, it left their ghosts behind--they're everywhere. When I first started reading this, I thought, Geez, yet another book in which some girl has a secret paranormal ability--but no! Everybody sees the ghosts. Some are freaked out by it, some are curious about it, some couldn't care less, but there are regular sightings all over town.

Anyway, Veronica is contemplating dating James (who is kind of a jerk), but the one by whom she is secretly intrigued is his friend Kirk. And Kirk likes her too, which is why, when he decides to do an extra credit project about the ghosts, he asks her for assistance as a pretext to get to know her. But unbeknownst to them, there is a serial killer in their midst, and he also has his sights set on Veronica, for one very particular and kind of creepy reason. And all the ghost-hunting in various out-of-the-way locales may give him the perfect opportunity to strike...

I enjoyed this book! Veronica is a spunky, independent, interesting girl, and Kirk is above average in his own way, but they aren't idealized, they read like real people. I liked the interactions between them as well as their dynamic within their families and community, and I thought the story was told with just the right amount of foreshadowing and suspense. The one small thing that bothered me was, "the Event" is never explained, and I didn't understand how the economy of all the surviving suburbs didn't collapse without the city as a source of jobs. But aside from this quibble about background world-building, I thought the story was well-paced and intriguing, and the characters were engaging. I would give this a 4 out of 5, and I would try reading his other books (the Generation Dead series). This book is good for 8th grade and up. The cover art was a little strange--I think the book might have been better served by something a bit spookier. On the other hand, sometimes it's best to stay vague with a book cover, so you don't pigeonhole the book, and that may have been the case here.

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