*I received a free ecopy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.*
Sometimes I hate that I have to give books a star rating, and this is one of those times because there were so many things about this book that weren’t necessarily positive or negative but rather ambivalent and thought-provoking and atypical. I actually have a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head, so I’m going to split this into sections.
1) The Main Character
I looked at a lot of reviews before deciding to read this, and almost every single one talked about how selfish the main character was. And they’re right, she was. She was also immature and made terrible decisions sometimes.
But there was so much more to her than that.
The nice things she did weren’t heroic, grand gestures, but I always say kindness is about the little things. Like the way she shared her last ketchup packet with Jonah (“living” food tasted flavorless but the ketchup crossed over with her, thus it had flavor) even though Jonah wasn’t dead and only had to endure the food for a few meals whereas she had to endure it forever. And the way she tried to give him a suggestion and boost his self-esteem when he was feeling down about not knowing what to do with his life. And the way she gave Amy the sleeping bag and took the plain blanket for herself because she knew she wouldn’t even have anything that night if it weren’t for Amy’s help. And the way she picked up a lighter as a gift for Ernest because she remembered that he ran out of matches. And the way she wanted her body to be found so that her mother would have closure and not wonder forever.
Not only that, her selfishness was realistic. I definitely do NOT support some of her behavior, but many people in real life are selfish, not the self-sacrificing, perfectly imperfect martyrs that we’re used to seeing in books. Plus, she started to realize her flaws and change by the end of the book. So I didn’t feel like she was an inherently bad person, just someone who needed a wake-up call.
2) The (Non-Romantic) Relationship
I realized recently that the books I read tend to either a) have romance, or b) have a gritty, rough-around-the-edges, often snarky male protagonist.
So I really wasn’t sure I’d like a book about a 36-year-old woman (well, ghost) and a 14-year-old boy helping her. But the premise was interesting and the promise of romance in later books was enough, so I went for it, and I’m glad I did because Jonah was a sweetheart and the dynamic between these two characters ended up being my favorite thing about the book. Sometimes they teased and aggravated each other just for fun. Other times they got mad at each other for real. But they always cared about each other and stuck around when it counted. Their relationship was kinda like friends, kinda like siblings, and altogether unique, but it worked. It was awkward, it was funny, it was frustrating, but, most of all, it was adorable.
(As a side note, there was one more-than-friends relationship in the book, and I really liked the guy, but it still wasn’t exactly romance.)
3) The Thought-Provoking Aspect
Not only did I learn lots of tidbits about the afterlife beliefs of different cultures, this book really made me ponder things about ghosts, the afterlife, and even life itself.
I also loved the ghost culture the author created—the market, the barter system, the bar with all its hodge-podge decor, the ghost doors, the way objects can cross over, etc. And the explanations given for the ways humans subconsciously avoid ghosts were kinda freaky because they make you wonder if they could be true!
4) Everything Else
The cover is so pretty! I really like the covers for all the books in the series.
The only complaint I really have is that it was pretty slow-paced. This was not a heart-pounding type of book, but it wasn’t supposed to be. So while I would have liked a bit of that, I still appreciated the focus on the afterlife and character development.
Overall I enjoyed this book and look forward to the next one!
Anyone who likes books about the afterlife, books that make them think, and unique but sweet friendships between characters.