I cannot for the life of me remember where I found this book or if someone suggested I read it. It probably came up in one of my giant Amazon searches, though according to Amazon, the sales numbers aren't that high. Not that I care; this was one fun read. Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen has two scheduled sequels to be released next year, and I'm interested enough to read them.
I thought ghosts had been done enough times. A girl can see ghosts, she's being haunted, only she can help them find peace... yadda yadda yadda. But this YA paranormal does what I like seeing, a very real YA situation that deals with grief, death, and loyalties combined with the paranormal. Really, you could take out the paranormal and have a touching contemporary. You could take out the contemporary and have a rather thrilling paranormal haunting. Neither would be quite complete without the other; together, it makes a well rounded, balanced book.
First Sentence: "I was never normal, but I liked to pretend that I was." This one sentence embodies one of the main themes of the novel: acceptance. Charlotte discovers how to accept herself, crazy parents included, just as the other characters learn to accept certain things in their lives. It's a good first line that probably appeals to everyone, not just teens. Who doesn't think they aren't normal?
Beefs: Don't go in thinking you're going to get a Twilight type of romance. Charlotte gets her first serious crush and she becomes friends with moody, possibly dangerous, and totally hot Jared, but the push and pull of forbidden love is nowhere to be found. It's refreshing actually. And helps keep the focus where it counts: out of teenagers' pants and into their hearts.
Beef number two: I didn't completely buy Charlotte's past of being alienated because of what her parents do. I let it go however, and substituted "total humiliation" with "Charlotte was embarrassed and wouldn't let people into her life".
Brownie Points: Besides being well written, you get to know the characters really well. Each character is real and whole. Too bad the book couldn't have been another 50 or 100 pages longer so we could have seen more interactions. But, short as it is, it's sweet.
Ending: Left me smiling. Things were mostly resolved, as you'd expect them to be. But what I liked most, was that the teen drama wasn't magically all better, it was left with the reader knowing their problems still needed to be worked on. That's real life people.
Would I represent it?: I can label this book as "quiet." And that label is the reason for Amazon's low rating. I wish more people would read stuff like this, then I could sell more of it. But, swept up in the post-Twilight thrills of big bangs and bigger sexual tension, a book like this just can't fly up into the spotlight. I would love to represent something like this, it's unique enough to stand apart from "Oh-my-gosh, I'm being haunted by a ghost" books, but familiar enough (the contemporary side) to appeal to teens (and me).