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The Haunting of Pico (Pico, Texas Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Asian adoptee Chris moves with his family from the big city to tiny Pico, Texas, and he's not sure this is going to be a good move. We start right off with his opening days at school and get an immediate feel for how Kampman is going to handle this story line. The standard approach is some bullying by the football team, mean girls, racist comments, sneering small minded teachers and all of that sort of thing. But no, Kampman moves in an entirely different direction.
Chris meets and almost immediately develops a tight circle of interesting friends. And get this - they are funny, insightful and worth reading about. They fill Chris in on the ghosty history of his new house and just like that we are in a teen dramedy version of Scooby-Doo, with girl issues, some sharp and witty cross-talk, and a lot of wry and deadpan observations about school, family, small towns, being adopted, being Asian in Texas, and, of course, teen life. Did not see that coming.
Meanwhile, the two, (or three or more), interrelated supernatural storylines keep rolling along, providing a scary kick from time to time and giving everybody a reason to keep talking and doing things. A lot of the plotting is vague around the edges and some things that seem important just end up window dressing. There are a few loose ends and a head scratcher or two, but this is a ghost story not a math textbook, and everything doesn't have to add up for the reader to have a good time.
Bottom line - I liked our hero's vibe and attitude, even if he was a bit gormless at times. I liked the strong and capable teen girls, who held their own just fine. I enjoyed the rest of the pals, the secondary characters, Chris's family, and even the bad guys. This was a very appealing ensemble cast, and between the well rendered small town atmosphere, the sharp writing, and the knowing generosity of the author this ended up being a very entertaining read. A nice find.
(Please note that I found this book a while ago while browsing Amazon Kindle freebies. It is currently a kindleunlimited choice. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
I was fortunate to win a copy of this novel via the Goodreads First Reads program. It's delightful, winning, and very well done. The underscoring tension between good and evil, multicultural diversity and bigotry, selflessness and self-centeredness, humility and hubris, is deftly woven and no threads are dropped. Mr. Kampman is also particularly skilled at characterization just as much as he is at plotting; and readers will immediately find themselves drawn into the story, and upon finishing, wishing it could continue.
Chris and his family transfer from San Jose, California, to Pico, Texas consequent on his father's career. Chris, fifteen, and his sister Eve, fourteen, are both of South Korean lineage, each adopted in infancy, but not related genetically, raised by Caucasian Irish parents. In California, that didn't seem odd; in Pico, the occasional Hispanic is about as "exotic" as the town gets, and as Chris and Eve quickly discover in the unfolding plotting, this community has a long history of racism and white tyranny.
This town also has ghosts, other entities, and a statistically inexplicably high rate of missing persons disappearances. For all of these, there are reasons, and Chris and Eve , along with their new friends, are persevering to find out the truth.
Ok, I'm enjoying this book, moving along, waiting to hear what Rose is all about and how she ties into Charlotte and Emily and the missing children and then abruptly as if he were writing this story in a classroom and all the sudden the teacher says "5 minutes", suddenly Rose is telling Chris he has to come with her or his friends will die and he just say's ok? Then all the sudden the friends come along, have all the answers and end it all and then they want to put Rose in the cellar? Huh? First off, who is Rose? Why is she here? What does she have to do with Charlotte and Emily? What about all the other kids that disappeared? What did she do with them and why? If she's now dead and you just brought up a dead body from the cellar because it was haunting you, why on earth would you put another body down there? Is that the set up for book two and I missed it somehow? I'm left with more questions than I should. I think the last chapter needs to be re-written and Rose needs to be explained. Can anyone clear this up for me? I enjoyed 99% of this book, if only the last chapter could be better defined, I'd give it 5 stars.