Friday, January 24, 2020

Review: The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

Title: The Ghost and the Goth
Series: The Ghost and the Goth #1
Author: Stacey Kade
Format: Paperback, 281 pages
Pub. Date: May 10th 2011
Source: Little Library

Book Description:

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?



Well, I more or less got what I expected based off of the cover and the back blurb. This book is a fast read that's pretty predictable and not all that deep, so there's not too much to think about, nor is it something I'm particularly going to remember a week from now.

Alona Dare (yes, that is her name) is the wooooorst. She's shallow. Like, insanely shallow, and judgmental. Girls who kiss a guy must be whores and sluts. Every straight guy wants her, and she doesn't think every lesbian in the school wants her, she knows it. She calls Will a goth (uh, not even remotely?), a psychopath (cool insult bruh), and more than anything else, a freak. Wanna know what her supporting evidence is for him being a freak? He wears a hoodie. With the hood up, inside. Are you not clutching your pearls yet? Well get this. He also wears headphones. A teenager with headphones! Burn the freak! It's also super gross that she's friends with a guy that in her own word grooms young girls to sleep with him before he leaves them. Popular or not, it's super skeezy.

Now, I understand I'm supposed to not like her. This book is, at its core, a reverse "It's a Wonderful Life" where Alona gets to see how much better off everyone is when her rude, shallow ass is dead. Then she changes for the better for a better afterlife. Or she's supposed to. I didn't think she really changed that much. She might be nicer to Will but she's still insulting and rude, even as she's helping people. I expected a better arc for her and I was left disappointed.

Will Killian (yes, his name is Will Kill) is the most likable character in this book and is its saving grace. He's empathetic and a little brooding and mysterious. He has a whole web of secrets and masks to wear and it was admittedly interesting to see where his arc goes. His ability to hear and see ghosts, dealing with his father's suicide and the hospitalization of a friend, a doctor who might not have his mental health in mind after all, tangled with the weird and new feelings he has for the very dead cheerleader. There's a lot to unpack there and I think Kade did a pretty good job with this character. I get why Alona got attached to him.

As much as I have issues with this book, I actually liked the romance element. I liked that Alona and Will learned from each other. Alona gave Will some confidence and helped him get out of some trouble. Alona learned to be a little bit nicer and that her bullying actions did in fact have consequences. I liked seeing them warm up to one another and despite my overall "ugh" feeling of this book, I was rooting for them.

And then there's Joonie. Joonie is Will's one Goth friend. She is written as so unbelievably over the top as a "Goth" that it seems to be the only descriptors given to her. She doesn't really have personality, only traits that seem to be copied and pasted from a Wiki article about "Gothic Subculture". All I could picture in my head was Henrietta from South Park, which made all of her scenes hilarious for reasons I guarantee the author did not intend.

Like a lot of other contemporary set books, this one has a lot of pop culture references that really date this book. She makes references to Johnny Knoxville's (seven Razzie award nominated) version of The Dukes of Hazzard. She watches Joonie go to a MySpace page. There's just a LOT of oughts imagery here that I guess now works as a past setting, but since I was a teen in those years brings back definitely un-contemporary flashbacks of nostalgia.

I have to admit, the author does have my attention. I'd read the second book in this series if it came into my possession, though I won't be seeking it out. I'm just intrigued enough with where the Will/Alona romance is going. But, I don't really recommend this book. If you're into cheerleaders getting hit by a bus or fluffy books that don't take any brain power to get through, maybe you'll like it more than I did.


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