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The Ghost and the Goth (Ghost and the Goth Novels) Hardcover – June 29, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–Alona Dare was the most popular girl in her high school class, or at least she was until she was run over by a school bus. Returning to the scene of her death as a ghost, she anticipates overwhelming grief at her untimely death. To her surprise, her classmates quickly move on. Not only that, but weird outcast Will Killian can see and hear her. Alona, used to getting her own way, haunts Will until he agrees to help her figure out how to progress from ghosthood to the big white light that she keeps expecting. Will has problems of his own; namely that every ghost in Groundsboro High, including a seething black mass of energy, now knows that he can see them, and they all want him to carry out their last wishes. Will and Alona have to work together to get the ghosts to stop tormenting Will, and to figure out exactly what Alona has to do in order to move on from this world. Their new relationship is full of surprises as they each experience a side of the other that neither expected. This tale of friendship from unexpected corners shows how two people can grow tremendously over time. The tale is absorbing, and Kade successfully portrays a typical present-day high school. This novel will appeal to fans of romances and ghost stories alike.Laura Amos, Newport News Public Library, VA
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Alona Dare has it all—a cute boyfriend, elite social status, and a three-year reign as homecoming queen—until she is killed by a school bus. Now she is stuck (with several other ghosts) in some sort of middle ground, and her only apparent hope for moving into the afterlife is social outcast and goth Will Killian. Will needs to tune out the ghosts so his shrink doesn’t lock him up for good, but Alona’s beauty and persistence make her hard to ignore. Factor in a strange love triangle, a dangerous spirit determined to hurt Will, and an angry, belligerent principal, and it’s obvious that Will needs some serious help just to survive, much less graduate. With plenty of humor, this quirky debut will appeal to both genders. The characters are fully dimensional and appealing in spite of their hang-ups, and the sexual tension and alternating narrators are reminiscent of Maggie Stievater’s Shiver (2009). Despite a few implausible plot devices, the story succeeds as an exploration of high-school culture and the benefits of sacrificing yourself for another. Grades 9-12. --Melissa Moore
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Top customer reviews
But onto the review. As with the Nevermore trilogy, I will be seeking out Queen of the Dead (the second Ghost and the Goth book) as soon as it hits the stands in June 2011. Yes, I liked it that much! Alona is the girl you love to hate and boy did I do a lot of both. There were times I wanted to reach through the pages and smack her arrogant butt but other times I wanted to offer her a consoling hug. I like that she's a well balanced character though, snarky enough to pull off the necessary level of contempt but not too evil that you hate her and with enough vulnerability to actually see her potential as a truly nice (person?) ghost. Killian is a doll, the kind of boy you wished you had as a boyfriend in high school, though at times I wished he were slightly edgier. He wasn't as twisted and tormented as I thought he should/could be, but I still loved him as a character.
This is a fun little book with some interesting plot devices, one including a slightly nutty goth friend Joonie who has a disturbing fixation on her and Killian's friend Lily who lies comatose in a local hospital. Yikes. The plot and subplots are all very linear, there are really no BIG surprises, even at the end. Though this is a planned trilogy, there's no cliffhanger at the end. That happened in Nevermore and I'm still pulling my hair out, especially since I know I have to wait a year to find out what happens, so I'm thankful Stacey Kade didn't put me through that with Ghost and the Goth. Thank you!
Okay, now down to brass tax. Here are a few minor niggling issues. Killian's mother was an underdeveloped character and one that I was eager to hear more from, especially since we learn fairly early on that her husband, Killian's father, has committed suicide. I wanted to learn more from her, find out how such a dramatic upheaval affected her life and her relationship with Killian. This was an area of the novel which was underdeveloped and left me feeling a bit disappointed. Another bone of contention was Misty's betrayal of her BFF Alona with Alona's boyfriend Chris. Sure, this wasn't that huge a subplot but it was mentioned enough to warrant a better, more realistic resolution. Alona just decides at the end of the book that she's not angry with Misty anymore? Huh? Pushing aside the fact that I don't think this is terribly realistic, if you're expecting us to believe that it's true, you have to lead us there. It just fell a little flat for me, especially having gotten to know Alona so well.
For those truly invested in the romance elements of your "paranormal romance" this may not hit all the marks for you. The romance is believable and there is the necessary level of tension and interest, but the true "romance" in never fully realized. Sure, there are two kisses, but they're tentative and not overly emotional. Perhaps this element is slated for greater exploration in book two, and from reading the previews it sounds as if that's exactly the plan. Either way, you won't be leaving this book with the heart-wrenching love story in some of the other Y/A paranormal romances as this is a little more chaste and understated. That being said, it's got great potential and I look forward seeing where Ms. Kade takes it.
Irrespective of my minor complaints, it was an fun read and a great cast of characters. I look forward to the next installment!
Paranormals of any sort are pretty much completely outside the realm of my reading experience, but after a friend's review I knew I had to check this book out. Fabulously cheesy title and candy-colored cover aside, it sounded like just plain fun. And oh, I'm so glad I stepped outside my norm and tried this, as The Ghost and the Goth is ridiculously entertaining from start to finish. With Alona and Will, Kade has created two of the most memorable characters to populate YA lit that I've ever had the pleasure of meeting on the page. Just when you think you have Alona all figured out -- spoiled, bratty, and privileged -- sure you could never, ever pull for her as a heroine, Kade gradually lays out the truth of Alona's backstory, revealing her heartache and struggles and just how easy it is to judge her, even as we as readers formed our own preconceived notions about Alona because of how she perceived others. And Will -- oh my WORD, where was a Will when I was in high school (never mind, where is the equivalent now? LOL)? He is quite simply one of the most swoon-worthy heroes ever, the struggling social outcast, burdened by a gift (curse?) he never wanted, absolutely sure he has Alona's character nailed until she begins to prove him wrong.
Kade gives us these characters, their hopes, dreams, and fears beautifully realized on the page, and she nails the teenage point-of-view. All of the uncertainty and angst are there, but that never bogs down the narrative because sparks positively fly from the page whenever Will and Alona meet. The novel alternates between chapters in each principle's point-of-view, allowing us to see their transformation and slow-burning romance gain traction, as the most unlikely romantic pair you'd ever hope to meet starts to discover just how much they've come to matter to each other. And if sarcasm and witty banter are your thing, Kade delivers it in spades. The snarky one-liners fly between Alona and Will non-stop, so much so that they began to remind me a bit of my favorite bickering Shakespearean couple, Beatrice and Benedick of Much Ado About Nothing. Yes, I just pulled the Shakespeare card -- I loved this pair that much. :)
This is a breezy, fast read, the perfect candy-coated brand of escapism I found myself craving this week. Kade keeps the action moving at a snappy pace, never losing sight of her story's greatest asset -- the wonderfully snarky back-and-forth between Alona and Will. And I loved how she gradually metes out the secrets of each character's backstory, constantly dropping tantalizing clues, just enough information to keep you flipping pages at a breathless pace. And while the climax is a bit (ahem) over-the-top, the earnestness it provokes in Will and Alona, their heartfelt desire to help each other more than makes up for it. While I could've done without some of the swearing, this is a surprisingly clean novel with an equally surprising romantic sizzle that guarantees I'll be reading its sequels. The Ghost and the Goth is a ridiculously fun, engaging, addictive read -- very, very well done.
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