By Edith Pattou
Available now from Skyscape (Amazon)
I love Edith Pattou's young adult fantasy novels and I'm a big fan of novels in verse, so I couldn't resist giving GHOSTING a try. It is a contemporary novel about the last night of summer before school starts again. A group of (semi-) friends heads out: Emma, Maxie, Felix, Brendan, Chloe, and Anil. There are also two more narrators: Emma's younger sister and a strange boy with a shotgun.
(Okay, and a few poems from the police chief.)
It's very obvious from the beginning of GHOSTING that something is going to go awry. There's a building tension, right up to the point where it all explodes. But there's also lots of little human moments between the six teens who are mostly just trying to have a little fun. Even the cruel Brendan is very humanized.
Some might be put off by the free-verse format, but I think it is well done. Most of the voices are pretty distinct, and the directness of the address works. There's a clear logic to how a series of not-that-bad decisions lead to tragedy. I will admit though that I felt the authorial strings at time. The way Faith (the little sister) arrives on scene felt blatantly artificial. And Walter (the boy with the shotgun) felt like a caricature, which was a shame given how deeply the other teens were drawn.
I think GHOSTING will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson. It has a similar feel, both realistic and concerned with social issues. I'd recommend GHOSTING for the upper YA range, given some of the violence in the novel.