Saturday, May 11, 2013

Reaching Out, Possessing You

Published:  January 1st, 2013
The Dead and Buried
By: Kim Harrington
Scholastic Point
ISBN-13:  9780545333023

A haunted house, a buried mystery, and a very angry ghost make this one unforgettable thriller.

Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.

Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school — until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?

     Jade and her family have finally moved into a nice house in the city and she's excited to be going to school with people other than the same ones she's always known.  But nothing really prepares her for the fact that their new house is the most notorious in town and for good reason: the former queen bee of her new school, Kayla, died there only a few months ago!  Oh yeah, and she's haunting the place too and won't move on until Jade solves her murder.  And Kayla's not afraid to be vicious and cruel to get what she wants, including possessing Jade's little brother and threatening to kill him.  But with so many people crushed under Kayla's wrecking ball combination of personality and actions, which one of them actually killed her?  With the help of Kayla's ex-boyfriend Donovan, investigating all of her former friends is still a daunting task.  But will the discovery of her secret diary crack the case?  And can Jade save her family from destruction when the truth is finally uncovered once and for all?
     I love a good ghost story and it seems like they're a somewhat rare species in the YA genre lately.  Usually authors go for the shiny, more monsterish paranormal beings.  But I liked the old-school decision on the part of this author to go with a ghost.  Jade as a main character would come across as kind of bland to some I suppose, but I thought she was strong and refused to let herself be bullied by other people into doing things she didn't want, or think were right.  Case in point, her 'friendship' with Faye and also with Kane.  She went along with them, but only to a certain point and then she cut them off and did the right thing.  I loved Jade's sweet interactions with Donovan, and the underlying darkness at first because of the possibility of his involvement with Kayla's death.  A nice touch on the part of the author was making Jade unique, with her gemstone hobby and I liked the fact that her Dad and Stepmom weren't the normal deadbeat/asshole YA parents that inhabit about 90% of all YA novels.  They loved her, even the Stepmom Marie, no matter whether they always got along or agreed with each other.  The whole possession thing freaked me the HELL OUT.  Seriously, could you imagine a ghost taking over your body, let alone the body of someone you love?  Enough nightmare material to last a lifetime.  The avoidance of  love triangle definitely worked in favor of me liking this book.  Super sick and tired of anything even remotely resembling a love triangle.  No more please, writers of the world!  Just no more, my brain begs of you.  
     Kayla's diary entries and the unraveling of her bitchy drama in life just did nothing at all to make me like her.  And after finding out why her killer actually shoved her down the stairs, I kind of sided with the killer a little bit.  The resolution of the mystery wasn't entirely predicatable at first, but I wasn't surprised either, especially with how entirely OBVIOUS it is that the person set up to be the killer couldn't be, unless Harrington was a really lazy and bad writer.  The effort throughout dissuaded me from that thought pretty quickly.  I did like the reactions of her parents when they finally believed her about Kayla haunting the house.  I feel like the scene was supposed to be scary, but it kind of made me laugh out loud.  Overall a fun, quick read and a decent ghost story.  The mystery is basic but not completely cliché, and I would recommend it to those who enjoy ghost stories and a don't mind a bit of sweet romance thrown in, or normal family issues, etc.  I found it refreshing for a change.   
VERDICT:  3.75/5  Stars
**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

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