Me on Books features reviews of young adult novels, the occasional middle grade or graphic novel, and promotes Canadian young adult authors as much as possible. :)
Moving to a new high school sucks. Especially a rich kid private school. With uniforms. But nothing is worse than finding out the first girl you meet is dead. And a kleptomaniac. No one can hear or see Kimberlee except for Jeff, so, in the hopes of bringing an end to the snarkiest haunting in history, he agrees to help her complete her "unfinished business." But when the enmity between Kimberlee and Jeff's new crush, Sera, manages to continue posthumously, Jeff wonders if he's made the right choice.Life After Theft is a light, cute, and fun high school ghost story. There are touches of tragedy, but also of humour and of maturity. Sometimes, you have to help someone right the wrongs they caused, even if that person is dead and quite often doesn't share the whole truth.Jeff is quite possibly the averagest of average guys. He's seemingly forgettable, not necessarily good at anything but interested in some things, and suddenly he gets wrapped up in this strange and slightly creepy situation. Since he is a nice guy, he's willing to help her out, but he never expected all the things Kimberlee's ghostly hands dump straight into his lap.Kimberlee certainly has her issues, the least of which is that she's dead. She's also self-centered, a kleptomanic, a liar, and hugely unreliable. When she figures out that Jeff is all she has in terms of help, she complains like mad. But underneath all the polish and sparkle is a scared, sad little girl who died too young and with a lot of regrets. Yes, she's abrasive, controlling, and shrewish, but being dead still sucks.There are times when you make choices and regret them, especially in high school. But what if you die in a freak accident and you're left haunting the halls of where you did most of your harm? Then you're trapped between life and the afterlife, seeing the faces of the people you hurt, the people you stole from, knowing the only way out is to make things right. But no one knows your there because they want to forget all the damage you did. Until someone who's never heard of you shows up.As a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, I didn't notice it until I looked up the book itself. In the original, there is someone working in the shadows righting wrongs and saving innocents from harm. Here, I suppose that's true, but as I've not read The Scarlet Pimpernel I can't attest to anything more.Death is a curious thing, and it sucks, dying when you have regrets and you've made mistakes. But knowing you have to make it all better in order to move on is the turning point, and then comes the most difficult decision of them all: whether or not you actually want to suck it up and fix those mistakes.
Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common-they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent and immediate answers. Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? Is she next? As she searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.17 & Gone is haunting and hugely powerful. Dripping with mystery, intrigue, sadness, and determination, this is one girl's journey to discover the truth behind another's disappearance, behind multiple disappearances of teenage girls. Something happened to these girls, something that led them to be declared missing, and one girl takes it upon herself to reveal the truth.The novel is Lauren's account of her experience right from when it starts, when she first sees Abby, when she first sees the visions, and as she sees girl after girl, story after story, until she's surrounded by them. Her voice feels slightly distant from the story as a whole, but I find that it stems from how this is told. Lauren is recounting what happened to her, what happened to the girls who went missing, and what happened as she traveled unknowingly straight to a surprising and revealing ending.While the novel mainly features Lauren, it's not just about her. It's also about the girls who are 17 and gone, gone and disappeared into the mist, into a car, into an adventure, into a life they hoped was better than the one they left behind. It's a serious subject. What happened to those girls who leave and are never found, girls whose family wants them back while the authorities just wash their hands of them as they declare them to be runaways? It's heartbreaking, it's terrible to think about, but there are those who want to find them. There are people who care about them when no one else does.The different stories, the different girls, they're all the different ways someone can become lost. All the girls are lost, but so is Lauren. She's lost in this mission they give her, swept away into the current they create, pushed into discovering the truth no matter how unexpected it might be.What is the truth behind what Lauren is seeing? She thinks she's seeing spirits, ghost, visions of the past, but is she? Or is it all in her head? Is she making it all up? Are they ghosts searching for someone to help them, or is Lauren suffering from a mental illness? In a way, I think it's up for interpretation on behalf of the reader. They can choose to believe that what Lauren sees or not.No matter if you believe Lauren or not, if you think the girls are real and crying out for help or not, this novel will still stick with you, whispering the names of lost girls, whispering their stories. Crying out for someone to find them.