The Ghost and the Goth

By Stacey Kade

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Hyperion, 2010

Genres:  Fantasy, contemporary fantasy, paranormal

Series: A Ghost and the Goth Novel; 1

ISBN: 9781423124870

Audience: Young adult

Number of pages: 281

Setting: Groundsboro (state not specified but the town is near Decatur, so it could be Illinois)

Time period: Contemporary

Plot summary: When the most popular girl in high school, Alona Dare,  is struck by a bus and killed, she finds death to be more challenging than life.  As a ghost, there is much she doesn’t understand about her existence.  One of the worst aspects, however, is that the only one who seems to even notice her is Will Killian – one of the most unpopular kids in school.  People think that Will is mentally disturbed, when his real problem is that he has a hard time ignoring all of the ghosts he encounters.  He’s been particularly disturbed lately by a spirit who attacks him every time it’s close.  He has no reason to help Alona.  She’s just one more ghost clamoring for his attention.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Very quick; points of view alter each chapter, which accelerates the pace.

Characterization: Told in first person by both Alona and Will.  The next most important character is Will’s friend, Joonie.

Frame: The title sets the frame for this story – the focus is on both characters and how they interact with one another.

Story line:  A dynamic story with believable characters, as well as some surprises.

Subject headings:

From Pima County Public Library:

Ghost stories.

Families — Fiction.

Interpersonal relations — Fiction.

High schools — Fiction.

Schools — Fiction.

Young adult fiction.

Similar works:

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

Hex Hall series by Rachael Hawkins

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar

The Iron Witch series by Karen Mahoney

Generation Dead series by Daniel Waters

Personal notes: I enjoyed this story.  It was a fun read which mainly skirted the edges of darkness by keeping the tone light.  The story contains many dark elements – characters deal with a range of issues including the aftermath of suicide, peer pressure, and an alcoholic parent.  Kade weaves enough strands of humor and awkwardness into the scenes that the overall tone of the story matches Alona’s “cheery”  spirit.  This is definitely one of those cases where one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.  Had I only seen the cover of this book and not heard anything about it previously, I would not have picked it up.  The story is good, though.

Other: Diversity – psychic (ghost senser), ghosts,  child of an alcoholic, homosexuals – lesbian teen & gay grandfather ghost

Stacey Kade’s website

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