September 8, 2010


by Stacey Kade
281 pages, Hyperion
Review by Melissa Conway

Of the three supernatural YA books I read recently, this was my favorite.

Alona Dare is the quintessential cheerleader—pretty, athletic, popular—and casually cruel to those beneath her (which, in her insulated mind, is just about everyone). Well, she was anyway. Now she’s dead. Everyone at school is whispering that she threw herself in front of that bus on purpose because she found out her boyfriend hooked up with her best friend, but she didn’t discover that little gem until she was already six feet under.

Being a ghost is hard. There’s no user’s manual explaining why she’s here and why she can’t control the frightening fade-outs that keep occurring. Plus, the other ghosts hanging around the school aren’t exactly friendly.

If she ever noticed Will Killan, it was to mock him, at least until she sees him look at her and laugh when she’s doing one of her ghostly fade-outs. He’s the only alive person who can see ghosts, and once word gets out, every single one of the local specters wants a piece of him. They all think he’s the solution to why they’re stuck in limbo—if only he can help them with their unresolved business, they can move into the light.

But Will just wants to get through high school, a task made that much harder by his reputation as a Goth kid with mental problems. He’s been Principal Brewster’s special project for years now, but Brewster’s sadistic disciplinary methods can’t fix him. Nobody knows (or would believe) the reason he listens to music 24/7 is to block out the incessant talking of the ghosts all around him. And now that Alona Dare has burst onto the spirit world scene and given away his secret to the local spooks, they’re making it difficult for Will to act normal. You try listening to your teacher lecture when a bunch of ghosts are all screaming in your face—and since Will can also feel them as if they were corporeal, he can’t disguise his response to their touch.

His friend Joonie is the only one he can count on, but even she’s been acting weirder than usual since their friend Lily’s accident. Joonie’s more Goth than Will will ever be, but even though she might be open to it, he hasn’t trusted her with his secret. She HAS witnessed the malevolent black fog that’s suddenly begun attacking him seemingly at random, but he can’t tell her what he thinks it is. If his psychotherapist ever found out the truth, he’d toss Will into a nice padded room for the duration.

As if Will didn’t have enough on his plate, Alona’s long, tan legs are becoming a disturbing distraction. With her on the scene, it’s getting harder to hide his “gift.” Until she figures out a way to get the other ghosts to lay off pestering him, that is…

Author Stacey Kade has a charming, funny voice that pulled me in and kept me reading long after I would have set another book aside. The Ghost and the Goth is highly polished for a debut novel, and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel, Queen of the Dead, coming out next summer.

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