Let me make something clear. I don't like writing negative book reviews. I'm sorry Scholastic, you're a great publisher, a favorite of mine since I was a child. I gave the last review I wrote for you, Better To Wish, 5 out of 5 stars. To the author, I'm sorry also. I could never write a book, so you at least have better writing talent than I do. However, I did not enjoy this book. AT ALL. I actually stopped reading for about a week because I just could not force myself to read this. Somehow I prevailed, mostly because I'm doing a group reading challenge and I didn't want to let my teammates down.
I'm trying to analyze and determine why it is that I don't like this book.Was it because it was Young Adult? That can't be it, because I have rated many Young Adult books between three and five stars. Was it because it was a paranormal romance? Eh, it's not my favorite genre, but I do have a soft-spot for ghosts. I don't feel like the fact that a ghost was a love interest ruined the book, at all. So what could it be? I think it really just boils down to the writing. It was almost like the book was written by someones mother who was trying to convince her teenage daughters that she can be cool. She obviously failed miserably. Here are some examples of times I shook my head throughout the book:
"The shirtless guy riding on the mower checks us out as we pull into the gravel driveway. He is maybe a year older than me, and as tan as a muffin, with longish blond hair sweaty on his shoulders. He reminds me of a border collie."
LMBO, really? REALLY? He was "tan as a muffin"? What kind of muffin would that be? Blueberry? Chocolate? I don't even think my grandma ever described a man as being "tan as a muffin". Who says that?? And this is supposed to be a 16-year-old girl talking. I'm not even going to go into the border collie comment.
"He's wearing a Dallas Cowboys T-shirt today, I see from way up here. I grab my glasses off my desk to inspect closer."
She had to grab her glasses to checkout a guy. Oh wait, she didn't check him out, she "inspected" him.
"What a fair-weather friend Gertie's turning out to be."
Look Lois, no teenager says "fair-weather friend". Did the author write this book while watching The Golden Girls and taking her arthritis medication?
"In the front parlor there are about a million copies of her book for sale. It's called What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle. Maybe I ought to buy a copy. Sixteen dollars? Forget it."
I usually love first-person narratives. However, the main character's mind is so simple. She thinks nothing deep. This is basically the complexity of her thoughts. The reader gains nothing by having insight into the main character's personal thoughts and feelings.
""Oh Hello!" You're the daughter of that new couple running Coolspring Inn," she says, clapping her hands as if she's smashing gnats."
How exactly does one clap their hands as if smashing gnats?
"We yammer like magpies, and I tell her everything I know about Nathaniel."
She and her friend not only "yammered", but did so as if they were magpies.
Okay, so I could go on and on. At this point, I'm 25% into the book. This could take all day. So, what it comes down to is this book was torture to read. It could have been good... the Civil War is an era that has always intrigued me as well as haunted houses. Unfortunately, the writing put up a block that stopped me from enjoying this book at all. 1 out of 5 stars. Sorry.
I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Scholastic in exchange for an honest review.