Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley
Release Date: August 1, 2008
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Almost all people have wanted to be popular at sometime or another in their lives. Charlotte Usher is no exception. Generally ignored and unnoticed all her life, Charlotte resolves to start anew in the upcoming school year. Her plan is to get noticed--especially by Damen, the hottest boy at school. Unfortunately for her, Damen already has a girlfriend, and Charlotte's first day back at school is hardly triumphant. In fact, Charlotte dies.
Charlotte finds even her death rather undignified--she passes onto the next world after choking on a gummy bear. Right after Damen was going to be her lab partner too! Even her death goes unnoticed at first, but Charlotte has already entered the afterlife, which, as she learns, is quite different than what she had originally expected. Instead of going to the Pearly Gates (or, possibly, that other place), Charlotte finds herself in DeadEd. The new purpose she is given? To resolve her internal struggles from her life, so that she can move on.
But Charlotte hardly wants to move on. Instead, she is trying to find the best ways to use her death and new ghostly form to her advantage--aka getting Damen somehow. When she finds an unlikely ally, the goth girl, Scarlet, Charlotte begins to set her plan in motion. In fact, Scarlet happens to be the sister of Petula, Damen's hot and popular girlfriend. How could someone like Scarlet be related to Petula?! They're practically opposites and waging war on each other! But Charlotte hardly cares, since Scarlet seems to be on the only living person who can see her, thus, the only person who can help her.
However, in all her meddlings with the live world, Charlotte is breaking all the rules of being dead, and getting further from resolving her earthly issues. Being dead is not easy, and with the rest of her DeadEd classes' dwelling in jeapordy, it seems like Charlotte has more than one issue to resolve. Is Charlotte forever doomed to trying to get Damen, even though she's dead and he isn't? Will she and the rest of her DeadEd class be evicted and forced to roam or look elsewhere for a home? Afterall, most people don't take too kindly to having spirits with issues resolving in their homes... Is there something after DeadEd, or is this it? Stuck in school for the rest of eternity?! Charlotte may never find out if she continues butting into the lives of the living...
Life after death just might be a lot more complicated than Charlotte expected!
I found myself enjoying Ghostgirl a bit more than I had originally anticipated! I had thought it would have a lot of cliches, but it was well-written, and I liked Scarlet's character. Watch out, though! That girl's got a sharp tongue--which is the opposite of Charlotte.
I wouldn't say I was entirely thrilled of this book, but it definitely had some high points.
I'll admit that Charlotte was rather ditzy, and I had hoped that she would grow out of it, but sadly, she didn't really. It became mildly annoying after awhile, and Charlotte was hard to connect to, and a little too shallow-minded and materialistic. I can see why someone who's been generally unnoticed wants to be popular, but not in such a close-minded and excessive way.
I will warn you, however, that if you're looking for something deep and more thought-provoking, you're better of skipping this book. It does not deal with some weighter questions about death and Charlotte is only concerned with her popularity and Damen. She hardly thinks of her parents, and does not reflect on how their lives will be after her death. We barely learn anything about her family, which is disppointing, as her family could provide more insight on why Charlotte is so thoroughly obsessed about her popularity. Ghostgirl does not have an emotional struggle over her parents, her worth, and what she has done to help others, etc. It seems to skip over that entirely, which makes me rather annoyed at how single-minded Charlotte is! Popularity is a bit too prevelent in her mind!
That said, it's more light-hearted (I know that sounds like an oxymoron) than most books dealing with death are. It's not a heavy, heady read, so some of you who are not looking for a more reflecting and pensive look at death may enjoy Ghostgirl.
The book itself looks great. The cover is neat and the book is longer than your typical book (makes it look, fittingly, like a coffin!) and it's not just black and white. The little pictures, silver trimming and pink accents actually go nicely with the book in general!
And if you enjoyed Ghostgirl, don't forget to check out the newly relseased sequel, Ghostgirl: Homecoming! It just hit bookstores, and it looks nice, just like Ghostgirl (except purple instead of black)! (Who knew books could be astestically pleasing?)