Ghost and the Goth, The by Stacey Kade
Release Date: July 2010
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
After a close encounter with a bus, Alona Dare goes from homecoming queen to Queen of the Dead. She's stuck as a ghost in the land of the living with no sign of the big, bright light to take her to a better place. To make matters worse, the only person who might be able to help her is Will Killian, a total loser outcast. More than anything, Will wishes he didn't have the rare ability to communicate with the dead, especially the former mean girl of Groundsboro High
The Short of It: Interesting concept that held my attention throughout the entire book. There were times that it moved a little slow, but this was mainly when Kade was getting important/relevant background info in. I was pretty excited to learn there will be more books with these two and cannot wait to see their story develop more.
Plot: So, this brings “I see dead people” to a whole new level. Poor Will. While I love to go “ghost hunting”, I can safely say that I would never want his ability. I mean, to hear all those people talking around you whenever you’re in public. How could you honestly NOT go crazy? And of course, he can’t really tell anyone for fear they’ll think he really should be in a mental ward. I have no idea how he made it as long as he did and still stayed reasonably sane. Like I understand his little tricks worked, but how was he ever able to concentrate on school and not hear what was being said? I enjoyed how Alona was able to come in and basically save the day. I figured she would be important, but I never guessed how important she would be. Of course, I don’t think they knew either. After all, Will had spent his whole life avoiding the dead and all Alona wanted was the bright lights. I’m anxious to see how their roles will continue to develop as the series progresses.
Characters: Poor, poor Will. I really did feel sorry for him. Most people thought he was a freak of nature, well, ok maybe he is a little. After all, he can see dead people. However, he isn’t just some goth kid who enjoys wearing black and talking about death. Honestly, he’s just misunderstood. Yes, he’s sarcastic and aloof, but that’s his defense mechanism. As long as people generally leave him alone, he doesn’t care what they think. His main goal is to survive high school and move to where there are less people and less of the dead. It was heartwarming to see how he cared and his few friends and his mom, especially his mom. He would bend over backwards to make his mom happy and on several occasions resisted a fight because he can see how much it wears on his mom. And once you got down to who Will really was, he was a pretty cool guy, one I would easily love to have in my life.
Oh, Alona. Make way for another misunderstood character. Yes, she may be miss popular and look like everything is perfect, but it truly isn’t. Once you learn what her life is really like, you can’t help but have a little sympathy for her. After all, no teen should have to deal with the home life she had. But that’s when she was alive. I’m not sure that death has been all that much kinder to her. I mean, being hit by a bus…ouch! Not to mention, she got to see people’s true colors once they thought she was gone. And the comments she heard and actions she witnessed were probably things that no one would want to hear or see. However, death and Will acted as a small wake-up for her. She was used to being blunt and even mean, but the problem was she didn’t see it that way. When she told someone their sweater was ugly, she was trying to help by getting them to care more. Good intentions, but totally wrong way to do it. In death, she has to learn to say nicer things. (There is a reason but I won’t say why.) She learns how to be honest in more gentle fashion. I also enjoyed that she wasn’t just some dumb blonde. Alona proved time and time again how strong and intelligent she was. It was fun to see Alona grow into someone with much more character and I am excited to see how she continues to transform as their story continues.
Romance: This one is a little…odd. I don’t know how else to describe it. After all, Alona is dead. And while the dead do have a solid substance when they’re near Will so that they can touch and what not, but um still dead. Yet, despite all that I still kind of rooted for something to develop between them. After all, Will has been crushing on her since they were in the sixth grade and, well, being the only living being to see her kind of gives him the advantage. In all seriousness, while there are some sparks flying, at this point it was more about a friendship and getting beyond their old stereotypes to the point of actually caring about each other.
Writing: Another alternating view point book. I’ve read TONS of these lately and I’m discovering that I really like them. I enjoy being able to step into both main characters’ points of view. Adds a whole new depth to what is happening, especially when they’re not together. And the alternating chapters keeps the story from jumping all over the place. Of course, it does annoy me a little. There were times I had wanted to stay with Alona or Will a bit longer and was instead thrown into the other POV.
On the story telling front, Kade does an excellent job. I had this book for months before reading it because initially hadn’t caught my attention. And, honestly, I may have passed it up all together had it not been for some of the buzz going around. I was pulled into the story within the first few chapters and had a hard time putting it down on occasion. In fact, I had a temptation to skip an author event to finish up the book…or at the very least read the whole way there and ignore the person driving. (I promise I did neither!) All in all, this one ended up a very pleasant surprise indeed.
Librarian-Mode: Hmmm, I think one is going to go well with the paranormal readers. Yes, it’s not your typical werewolves or vampires, but ghosts are just as much fun! I would say that those who liked Once Dead, Twice Shy or Shiver would enjoy this one as well. There are still romantic undertones in this one (as with any good paranormal read), but it isn’t your straight out romance. I think the romance-crazed readers will like it as well, but it may be a harder sell for them.
So, now it’s your turn…have you read The Ghost and the Goth? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.