I received a copy from Netgalley.
Oh dear. This was a hot mess of a book. I really didn’t like it much at all. For the post part it was okay, but then something at the end made me really want to throw something at it.
This book tells the story of teenager Eileen “Echo” Stone. Echo has a pretty decent life. She has two loving parents, and her boyfriend of 2 years, Andy, practically worships the ground she walks on. Then one day Echo wakes up in a mysterious location after blacking out, a sort of boarding house/orphanage surrounded by weird and mean kids of various ages and a strict matronly type lady over seeing everything.
Echo is very confused and tries desperately to convince everyone she’s not an orphan. So with the help of the good looking Cole, the only person being nice to her, Echo manages to escape and runs home. Only to discover to her shock and horror – a car passes right through her. She’s dead. And has no memory of how she died or the last few months of her life.
The plot of the novel revolves around Echo solving the mystery of her murder and coming to terms with her memories of her life – she’s not the good sweet girl she seems to think she was. She also has to learn how to be a ghost. The place she’s stranded in is a sort of a half way point, the other kids staying there are all ghosts like her, who have been murdered. They have to find their killers and dole out justice before they can “pass over”. Each ghost has a unique ability. Echo learns this quickly on her first revenge outing with the other ghosts. Echo’s power is (unsurprisingly) the rare and unique ability to take over human’s bodies and learn their memories and secrets. Only one other ghost has been able to do this in the last ten years or so.
The plot doesn’t actually sound too bad. The different abilities of the other ghosts and their backstories were mildly interesting. The actual story telling came across to me as kind of bland and rather boring. And I can’t actually say I liked any of the characters. Echo was a brat. She came across as moody and entitled and more often than not I found myself wanting to slap her. Granted, it can’t be easy seeing people you used to know and discovering you’re not as well liked as you thought, and discovering disturbing things about yourself you had forgotten. But I really just had no sympathy for this girl.
The boyfriend was madly in love with her and is understandably heartbroken. Echo is watching him go through this, she can’t communicate with him. And his parents and everyone else are already telling him she wasn’t so great – get over it. Hard to do when you’ve been crazy in love for some time. And of course the really popular mean girl who snubbed Echo has her sites on him and Echo is jealous. Again, understandable. But after two or three interactions, she finds herself enamoured with Cole.
At the same time she’s feeling very guilty about it. You can sort of see why she might feel conflicted. She’s had the same boyfriend for years, he’s still alive and grieving, but she’s sharing smoochies and new experiences as a ghost with a hot new guy. It’s a fairly interesting predicament, love triangle with a paranormal twist. Problem for this reader is I just hated the characters and as I said earlier due to my severe dislike of Echo I had little to no sympathy for her.
The actual plot itself as Echo uncovers what happens to her, is quite intriguing and to be fair, quite surprising and disturbing when the truth about what happened is revealed. I didn’t actually guess or see it coming. The investigation is really what kept my interest as Echo and Cole with the help of the other ghost kids dig into Echo’s past and look at the suspects.
This is a bit of a big spoiler for the end of the book but it really pissed me off and I want to rant about it.
After solving the murder, Echo still hasn’t moved on. She’s decided she needs to say goodbye to the people who loved her. Mom and dad and boyfriend Andy. Okay. Makes sense. However, she’s decided the way to help Andy move on without her is find him a new girlfriend. Not to say her goodbyes, leave him alone and let him grieve, hopefully in his own time he’ll accept things, deal and move on. It’s only high school, he has his whole life ahead of him. No, Echo decides that he needs a girl to help him. He’s been flirting tentatively with Dani, the mean popular girl. So Echo decides she’s going to “help” them get together with her ghost powers.
Dani and Andy have a date. Dani has a more out-going style of dress and makeup tastes than Echo. So Echo spies on Dani as she’s getting ready. Dani’s really excited – but Echo knows Andy likes her to dress a certain way, do her make up a certain why. This really really pisses me off to no end. Why should any girl have to change their appearance to suit what their boyfriend likes if they like things done a bit differently? If he doesn’t like the way she dresses or how she does her make up, then it’s his fucking problem and he can deal with it or find someone else.
So Echo hides the clothes and makeup she knows Andy won’t like. And Dani doesn’t seem to freak out or anything. She goes on the date in the clothes and the subtle make up Echo left for her. And it’s a success. So successful that Echo with her ability of possessing people has finally hit on the idea of possessing Dani so she can be with Andy again. Why this didn’t idea didn’t circulate before in Echo’s mind is a bit beyond me. Especially since she’s been possessing people throughout the story to learn their secrets. Which would have made for a more interesting plot, with the moral implications of this decision. Which she deals with fairly rapidly.
This particular part made me really hate the book, which I already didn’t like much. It was definitely an interesting idea, the story and characters just didn’t work for me at all. It’s concluded but left with a possibility that it could be a series. I certainly wouldn’t read any more of this.
Not for me at all.
Thank you Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for approving my request to view the title.
I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get round to reading this lovely book. It’s been waiting patiently on my Kindle for ages.
But better late than never, as they say. And so at last I’ve been able to enjoy Rebecca's excellent novel about Rachel’s experiences as a TEFL teacher in Greece. Anyone who’s ever lived or worked abroad, or thought about doing so, will revel in this story, with its ups and downs of foreign life, the faux pas and the frustrations but the endless fascination of discovering another culture. I’ve never been to Greece and so I eagerly soaked up every detail we get of all the places our heroine describes to us, and, of course, the people she meets.
There’s not only the geographical journey, there’s a spiritual journey too. Rachel feels that she has a point to prove to unsympathetic family when she undertakes a year of TEFL: that she’s independent and perfectly capable, thank you. But you do get the distinct feeling she’s not quite happy in her own skin at the start of the book, but by the end, when she’s the girl gone Greek, then she most certainly is. Greece is her spiritual home, the place where she can be who she’s meant to be. Through friendships and minor but significant triumphs at work, Rachel puts down her roots and blossoms.
It’s a delightful, uplifting book, full of sharp observations, humour and determination.
[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]
This ended up being a very uneventful read for me. The premise felt really cool: a girl finds herself in a creepy orphanage, realises it’s actually a kind of purgatory for murdered kids, and tries to find out who killed her so that she can move on. The beginning was intriguing, especially since, like other ghosts in the orphanage, Echo first has to piece together memories of her death—reliving the trauma at once would be too shocking—, and investigating why you’re in an orphanage when last you knew your parents were definitely alive, well, that’s tricky.
The problem lied mainly in how all this was executed. Not particularly thrilling, for starters. Echo has a couple of culprits in mind, so she and the other kids go to ‘haunt’ them and see if they’re going to wield under pressure, or are actually innocent, but… it wasn’t anything scary or memorable, more like pranks, not like the really creepy kind of haunting you could get when adding children/teenagers to the mix (in general, I find kid ghosts scarier than adult ones). The mystery itself—finding the murdered—wasn’t exciting either, nor were the murderer’s reactions. Perhaps this was partly due to Echo’s power as a ghost: entering living people’s bodies in order to perceive their thoughts. The investigation part, in turn, was more about vaguely picking a maybe-potential culprit, scaring them, popping in their mind, then be gone. Then the story. And then Echo’s past as a ‘bad girl’ was revealed, and it turned out it wasn’t so much bad as introduced without much taste.
Definitely cringeworthy was the drama-addled romance. Echo’s living boyfriend, Andy, is all about moping and wanting to kill himself over her death, and… well, call me hard-hearted and callous, but you’re 16 and that kind of relationship is by far NOT the first one you’re going to experience in life, so pegging everything on it always feels contrived to me. Then there’s cute ghost boy Cole, who’s not about murdering the hypotenuse (thanks goodness), yet was strange, considering Andy is not aware of his presence, and so the triangle is… incomplete? (Its attempts at becoming a square later didn’t help either.) Also contains examples of stupid Twue Wuv/The One/soulmate 4evah/Doormat Extraordinaire. Such as Echo being so happy that her corpse was dressed in her favourite dress at her funeral… Favourite because her boyfriend Andy liked it. I still have no idea if Echo herself liked the pattern or colour or whatever. In any case, these are the kind of tropes I dislike in novels in general, and in YA even more. Why always make it look like couple love is the ultimate end, as if nobody (whether girl or boy) couldn’t have a good life in different ways?
In fact, I was more interested in the orphanage’s headmistress (whose back story plays a part for a chapter or so) and other inmates, all with their own murders to solve. These I would’ve liked to see interact more than just as Echo’s sidekicks. But we don’t get to learn much about them, apart from how they died. Too bad.
I received this mystery for free and I voluntarily choose to review it. I've given it a 4.5* rating. This mystery had a lot in it. It had a little romance, a lot of action, some humor. and adventure. It was very hard to put down, just wanted to know what happened next. Because of the sex and the violence, it is not suitable for the under 18 readers. I really like Doris, the heroine in the story. Between her ex military training and her brain, she ends up getting the job done. I really enjoyed this series so far.