ghostgirl, by Tonya Hurley
Charlotte Usher had big plans for this school year. It was going to be her year. She had a whole new look, was planning on going out for cheerleading and was going to snag Damen Dylan the nice-guy BMOC. She was going to be noticed.
But Fate has other plans. On the first day of school, Charlotte chokes to death on a red gummy bear—and discovers that even death can't stop school. She is suddenly the newest student in Dead Ed—and, after a brief perusal of her Deadiquette handbook, decides that just because she's dead, she shouldn't have to give up on Damen Dylan.
ghostgirl has a fantastic design. Thick pages, a black matte cover with pink and silver accents AND a coffin-shaped cutout, silver edging and pink and black floral border on all of the pages, full page chapter headings with a different silhouette illustration and quote (Robert Smith, Oscar Wilde, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, Lou Reed, etc.) on each. It's a nice looking book.
Unfortunately, the text didn't hold up to the packaging. On the back cover, ghostgirl is described as 'satirical yet heartfelt'. I saw the satire*. What I didn't see—at all—was the 'heartfelt'. This book was flatter than flat. The characters said their lines. They did their thing. And I never even remotely cared. When there was a “humorous” moment, the author informed me. Examples:
"What do the Orientals call that?" she asked, showing just how politically incorrect she was. (192)
"That is so junior high," Wendy Anderson quipped. (204)
"I already am," he quipped. (229)
"The best of both worlds," he joked, devouring the cookie. (250)
"That's okay. You can expect these type of outbursts from the calorie-challenged," Scarlet quipped. (262)
I only started dogearing pages towards the end—there would have been many, many more examples if I'd started from the beginning.
Whenever the characters are seen doing something, the description reads like stage directions. It has cardboard characters, dialogue straight out of a lesser-than-mediocre straight-to-DVD teen comedy and situations out of the same. The jokes (even the ones that aren't pointed out to the reader) are obvious and old and fall flat. I hate being unable to find an upside to a book. But in this case, other than the book's design, I just can't.
*Though I didn't find anything original about it—conniving, image-obsessed head cheerleaders with snarky goth-girl little sisters, flighty, flaky, fickle cheerleader sidekicks and popularity-obsessed wallflowers—it's all so 1989.