Author: Alyson Noel
Publisher: Square Fish
From Goodreads:My Review
Riley Bloom left her sister, Ever, in the world of the living and crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. Riley and her dog, Buttercup, have been reunited with her parents and are just settling into a nice, relaxing death when she's summoned before The Council. They let her in on a secret—the afterlife isn't just an eternity of leisure; Riley has to work. She's been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a curious boy she can't quite figure out.
Riley, Bodhi, and Buttercup return to earth for her first assignment, a Radiant Boy who's been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But he's never met Riley...
I'm having a hard time writing this review, because I don't know exactly what to say about it. I didn't love this book, but I didn't hate it. It was just ok. I'm trying to pinpoint what I didn't really enjoy about and I think I have it narrowed down to it being too surface level - to quick - too lacking in explanations. It seemed like things were just said, and I was suppose to know what it meant without a good explanation. An example would be when Riley talks about spending too much in Summerland. It's never really explained what that is - well it is to a degree but you have to kind of put the pieces together. I was frustrated, and I know this would frustrate some of my students. Then it seemed that things were brought up but then dropped or the importance of them wasn't fully explained. An example would be Riley seeing how she bothered her sister when she was alive. Riley learned something about herself, but I didn't fully know why it was important that she learned it or how it was going to help her in the place she was in now. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know why it was important that she learned that about herself and her life, but I feel like it never told me why! The last thing that bother me was how easily things seemed to happen. I won't go into examples because I don't want to spoil anything but things were done very quickly and this seemed to take a lot of the tension out of the story. It just kind've flowed along with a bump here and there but nothing to really make me catch my breath and read quicker.
What I did like about the book was the character of Riley. She reminded me of a lot of 12 year olds I know. She was sassy, thought she knew it all, wouldn't take advice and was over-confident! Much of that was very realistic for that age. I also liked her spunk and refusal to give up. Her reasons for not giving up were perfect or her age too - she didn't want to hear "I told you so" from anyone. She stuck with it just to prove people wrong. That's a great character. I also loved that I did see a change in her throughout the course of the story. She stayed spunky, but she also learned to look beyond herself and see better what others were going through. I really liked her refusal to let go of hope!
Final thought: I wanted some more "below the surface" details. The story seemed to stay just on the surface. Maybe work better for intended age group than it did for this adult!
Best stick-with-you image: The bubble of hope
Best for readers who: Like a quick read and aren't frustrated by some vague details
Best for ages: 10-13