Sunday, September 16, 2012

Review: THE GHOST AND THE GOTH By Stacey Kade

Alona Dare–Senior in high school, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, Homecoming Queen three years in a row, voted most likely to marry a movie star… and newly dead.

I’m the girl you hated in high school. Is it my fault I was born with it all-good looks, silky blond hair, a hot bod, and a keen sense of what everyone else should not be wearing? But my life isn’t perfect, especially since I died. Run over by a bus of band geeks—is there anything more humiliating? As it turns out, yes—watching your boyfriend and friends move on with life, only days after your funeral. And you wouldn’t believe what they’re saying about me now that they think I can’t hear them. To top it off, I’m starting to disappear, flickering in and out of existence. I don’t know where I go when I’m gone, but it’s not good. Where is that freaking white light already?

Will Killian–Senior in high school, outcast, dubbed “Will Kill” by the popular crowd for the unearthly aura around him, voted most likely to rob a bank…and a ghost-talker.

I can see, hear, and touch the dead. Unfortunately, they can also see, hear and touch me. Yeah, because surviving high school isn’t hard enough already. I’ve done my best to hide my “gift.” After all, my dad, who shared my ability, killed himself because of it when I was fifteen. But lately, pretending to be normal has gotten a lot harder. A new ghost—an anonymous, seething cloud of negative energy with the capacity to throw me around—is pursuing me with a vengeance. My mom, who knows nothing about what I can do, is worrying about the increase in odd incidents, my shrink is tossing around terms like “temporary confinement for psychiatric evaluation,” and my principal, who thinks I’m a disruption and a faker, is searching for every way possible to get rid of me. How many weeks until graduation?
Oh my gosh, what a fun book! I almost didn't pick up The Ghost and the Goth, because I really don't do ghost books. I'm so glad I did, though. It looked so light and fluffy, and it kind of is, but that's okay. I had a list of expectations ready as I settled down with this book, and Ms. Kade delivered.

For instance, I expected Ms. Kade to use the new stereotypes. Or maybe I should call them the new character molds? I'm not sure. See, back in the day, cheerleaders were always perfect girls from perfect homes and had absolutely zero reason to be rude little witches other than the fact that they were spoiled. Goths were goths. They were freaky, and that was that. Nowadays, everyone has some tragic backstory, a psychological/developmental reason for being the way they are. That's the new mold, and Ms. Kade follows the new mold.

And that was okay with me. Like I said, I knew this book would be light and fluffy. Still, Alona's problems at home added a bit of heft to her personality, and I liked it. I also liked the fact that Goth boy Will isn't really Goth. (As he points out, he often wears a navy blue t-shirt, not a black one. And being able to see ghosts is a great reason to act a bit weird.)

I also expected some great dynamics between Alona and Will. Boy, does Ms. Kade deliver on this one! Alona has honed herself to be able to cut someone down with just a word or a look, so she has some moments of positively wicked snark that had me smirking. Will, on the other hand, is just as snarky, but he's also a kind-hearted boy with a great deal of responsibility on his shoulders. Also, despite the fact that they're on completely different ends of the popularity spectrum, Will's had a crush on Alona since the sixth grade, which makes their arrangement... interesting.

A developing romance? I expected that. I mean, just look at the cover. They've got the whole romantic tension thing going on from the get-go, which is alright, because Will is oddly cute. There's definitely no insta-love here. There's no love at all. Just catty attraction that was so fun to read.

But I didn't expect the big reveal. From the beginning, Will thinks he knows who the ghost trying to kill him is and why it's out to get him. I'm not saying he's right and I'm not saying he's wrong. I just didn't expect the twist at the end that made me go "Ohhhhhhhh." It wasn't quite as straightforward as I thought it would be, and I liked that.

I also didn't expect the logic behind the ghost method. I never got how ghosts are supposed to be ethereal enough to pass through walls but corporeal enough to, you know, throw things and scribble ominous messages. Totally illogical. But Ms. Kade laid out a pretty solid explanation for why certain things happen certain ways, which is pretty neat. I allow certain leaps of faith in my books (it's fictional, after all), but I expect everything to be logical and orderly. Cause and effect must still preside over events.

Okay, pause. You see that nice little list above? That's me trying to be a responsible, even-keeled reviewer. But the reader in me just wants to sit in a corner and giggle before chucking the book at your heads while chanting, "Read the fun, fluffy book! Read the fun, fluffy book!"

I would LOVE to see this book turned into a movie. Will's principal is a great enough jerk to be a fantastic secondary villain, Will's friend Joonie is just the kind of quirk that make a TV movie a success, the various ghosts that bug the snot out of Alona are a riot, and Will and Alona just have this great chemistry that begs to be translated onto the screen.

So what are you waiting for? Read the fun, fluffy book!

Points Added For: Will and his hotness, Alona and her snark, being logical, being fun and fluffy, Will's mom.

Points Subtracted For: All the language (the story would've been fine without it).

Good For Fans Of: Snark ghosts, fluffy books, romantic tension.

Notes For Parents: Moderate-to-heavy language, ghosts, an Ouija board, drinking, Alona's attitude regarding body types, Will's attitude regarding legs (he likes them a lot), homosexuality, homophobia.

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