Monday, June 1, 2009

ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

First published in 2008.

Sometimes high school really is a matter of life or death.

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my so
ul to keep.
And if I should die
before I wake,
I pray the popular to attend my wake.

Charlotte Usher feels practically invisible at school and then one day she really is. Even worse: she's dead. And all because of a guy and a gummy bear.
(book back blurb)

Seriously, who could resist this pretty cover? It's all 3D and stands out from the regular paperbacks and hard bound books. Not to mention the page quality on the inside goes above and beyond most anything else in books on the shelves. It was so hard to resist but I caved eventually. Being human and all , nothing is 100%. While my Canadian friend and I have a near-identical taste in books, it's not exact. She liked this book and recommended to it me. Another motivating factor to pick it up. I, on the other hand, was very, very torn.

I wanted to like it. I wanted to like it more than I actually did. At the end, I was split two ways on it - one as a writer and the other as a reader.

As a writer, I just can't help but wonder why the editors let this slide. The headhopping at times got just downright confusing. Not only did it hop at breaks, which was much easier to handle, but it hopped from paragraph to paragraph. Walking the line between having a good third person omniscient and headhopping is very, very fine, not to mention subjective. What is a graceful segue from one character head to another over the course of a page is jarring head hopscotch to another. To me, these transitions were just not smooth.

And don't get me started on the dialogue tags. There were -ly words in that book that I didn't even know existed and that I'm pretty sure haven't made their way into Webster's yet. A couple had me going WTF? so that was something else to pull me out of the story.

The reader/writer blends from here on out because you don't have to be a writer to pick up on these next few things.

I thought Charlotte was an amazingly static character. A ghost with tunnel vision that wanted nothing more than to manipulate and use everyone and everything just so she could get the guy. Aside from the thoroughly superficial aspect of it all, and while it takes teenage obsession to what could be a very funny extreme, I don't think it worked here. In all honesty, I think the book was told, for the most part, from the POV of the wrong MC. I think it should have been Scarlet's story. She's a much more dynamic character, much more interesting and changes because of Charlotte to be a more open-minded person. Charlotte, on the other hand, changes not a bit.

Until the end, apparently, where the change is so sudden and out of the blue that you're left going, "did I just get poked in the eye?" I understand the point being made and the difference between the chase and obtaining but considering that whole moment lacked internal thought of any kind that could potentially explain the shift, it had me going WTF? All of a sudden Charlotte and Prue are buddy/buddy and she no longer wants Damen. Huh? No segue, so shift, just bam! 180. Story ends.

Charlotte just really pissed me off as a character. I was ready to call Ghostbusters on her ass and have her incarcerated in one of their traps just so she'd cut out the incessant want to get with Damen. I cared so much more about all of the other characters and her big "lesson learned" at the end seemed written as an afterthought. As if the author forgot the book had to end, wrote that in quickly and everything's all sewn together nice and neat. I just found it unbelieveable. There was no change in the character up until that very moment at the end where everything gets resolved. No change. None. No second thoughts, no second guesses, no "maybe I shouldn't do this." It was all just Damen, Damen, Damen. "How can I get Damen?" And then, as if her meds wore off, "Nah, I don't want him anymore." WTF?

For all the pretty packaging, I don't think what's on the pages is all that stellar. I think there could be a really good story in there but like I said, I think the focus was on the wrong character. It could have been so much better if Scarlet were center stage. On an upside, though, I think it would make a cute Tim Burton movie. Definitely. Saw that the entire way through. And at least the dark humor and jokes wouldn't fall flat in a Burton flick.

This is one of those library books. Really, it could go either way. I've without a doubt read worse but I've absolutely read better. Check it out from your local or borrow it from a friend before getting sucked in by the wrapping and splurging on your own copy. It might not be everything you thought it looked like it could be.


prophecygirl said...

I agree! I enjoyed it, but I felt like something was missing. I think you've hit the nail on the head - Scarlet would have made a much better main character!

J. Kaye said...

Totally agree about the cover and then I looked at the chomps...yikes! I'll look for a library copy then. Thanks for the heads-up!

Insert Book Title said...

I really love this series. Sorry to hear that you didn't feel the same.

Donna said...

Eh, can't please everyone, right?

MissMe said...

I have to totally disagree. I LOVED this book. I thought it was witty and hysterical and heart-breaking all at the same time. Hurley is a master at Satire, but I don't think some people get it. Anyway, there are a lot of profound moments and I can not wait until Ghostgirl Homecoming!

Donna said...

Monty Python are masters at satire. Tonya Hurley . . . not so much. Then again, different people have different senses of humor.

Miss Cindy said...

I just got this book, and I've been skeptical about it :)

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