06 December 2008

Dead Girl Walking

Hurley, Tonya. (2008). ghostgirl. New York: Little, Brown and Company. 328 pages.

Charlotte Usher has a mission. It's the first day of school and she has worked all summer to change her outward appearance to be more like that of the "popular" girls and get the guy. She's registered for all the same classes, signed up for cheerleader tryouts, and as fate would have it ended up being his Physics partner for the year. Until she chokes on a GummyBear and dies that is.

Enter "Dead School" where you learn about being dead. Housed, conveniently, in the old, condemned wing of the same high school. A fact that you don't actually learn until towards the end of the book. You also don't learn exactly what it is that this group of dead high school kids has to do to pass over to the other side until the end. It's alluded to and somewhat explained, but not really. I did a lot of "reading on faith" with this book, in that I just kept reading with all the questions forming hoping that they'd be explained eventually. Could it be that too much had to be chopped on the editor's block? Not convinced.

So this whole book had me wondering, "When am I finally going to start liking this main character?" I have to say I never really did. I was very ambivalent about her. She was very shallow and ignorant of the feelings of anyone else other than her own. Maybe she was supposed to be? I'm not convinced. The secondary character, Scarlett the little, goth girl sister of the head cheerleader, was much more likable.

This book is sure to piss off many a librarian with it's awkward size (9.3" x 5.2" x 1") and thrill most any tween with it's cut-out cover, cool goth end papers, and silver gilt edges (not real of course) . This book is all about image, both literally and figuratively. Which really doesn't surprise me when you take a look at who wrote it. Tonya Hurley is a publicist and a film maker, she also does all sorts of stuff with those Mary-Kate and Ashley people. I think the writing in the book definitely reflects that pop culture influence and focus. I worry that with so many period specific reference made (Brangelina, Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie) that the longevity of the book isn't going to last. Not that I'd be sad to see it go...

I don't know if I'd booktalk this one. I'd definitely recommend it to the right kid who was into this genre, it's definitely a wanna-be spooky (think all the books about vampires, zombies and the like that are hot right now) girlie book. Junior high all the way.

1 comment:

  1. You write:

    "I did a lot of "reading on faith" with this book, in that I just kept reading with all the questions forming hoping that they'd be explained eventually."

    I felt the exact same way. I couldn't figure out why Ghost Girl was still using her computer, and where, exactly, the tangible world of the living and the world of the dead intersected.

    If you visit the website for the book, it seems almost like the novel was created in service of a greater commercial enterprise. I wonder which came first: the book or the T-shirts.

    Amy P.