February 2010, HarperCollins
271 pages, Paperback
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
Summary from HarperCollins
"I've seen a ghost," said Emily. "Well, not seen one exactly. Heard one. At least, I think I have…" Everything has a rational explanation. Unless it doesn’t. Welcome to Weirdsville… Woodsville is not like other towns. Night falls a little earlier there, the shadows are darker and denser, and everyone knows it's a place where strange things happen. Even if they won't admit it. Bethan would prefer to be anywhere but here. Jay has his theories, but isn't ready to share. Hashim sees more than he'll say, while Kelly's demons are all too flesh and blood. But Emily's freak-out brings them out of denial and face to face with the supernatural. Anywhere else, Friday night would be date night. But not in Weirdsville…
I'm taking a moment to look at the cover. Random, not fully formed faces usually freak me out. Admittedly I was a bit cautious about what would be in the story. Upon reaching the end, I wasn't freaked out at all. It's a good choice for the story, it hints at what it's about. And, following the current trend of paranormal covers, it is a dark background :)
I've read this while being extremely tired due to being kept up through no fault of my new cat...which might explain why I didn't understand the prologue for a long time. I was tremendously glad that Kevin wasn't a protagonist, because there isn't a part of him that I liked. Anyone who is cruel to animals is not a nice person.
I'm getting braver in what I read. Spooky goings on tends to have me on edge a little. Psychic screams with no corporeal body are really freaky and had me gripping the metaphorical cushion quite a bit. However, I don't want this to put anyone off reading it. The elements of the supernatural are very much a part of the book. The super spooky parts are quickly followed up with humour or some light relief. There's a constant undercurrent of something supernatural going on, this picks up pace towards the end of the story (as you'd expect it to). Then the story takes several twists which both had me more relaxed, and then more on edge.
I was making myself read it during daylight hours. At one point I nearly put it down because it was so scary. But I wanted to continue. And I finished it after the sun had set (having a cat on my lap made a lot of difference). And the thing which scared me the most, wasn't paranormal related. That was rather frightening.
I loved the broad mix of characters here. I sympathised with Bethan, who has a positive outlook on life despite her family background. She reminds me of myself a lot, wanting to be good and study hard.
I also related to Emily, in so far as I used to try and fade in the background a little at school sometimes. I felt sorry for Emily, for what she's had to deal with in life, and I was happy when the odd group help her out. Little do they know their lives will change forever.
The seemingly care-free Kelly, who teases classmates actually has a lot on her plate, and has more in common with Emily than she realised. She sprang off the page, reminding me of a few girls back from when I was at school (they weren't all that nice - Kelly is much nicer). Her explanation for what a so-called ghost could really be was actually scarier than if the noise had been a ghost!
Hashim is has a secret that will never leave him alone. It is one which will prove crucial to everyone's survival. Jay's theories leave the reader to think a lot about the universe (or should that be universes?) Individually they aren't strong enough, but together they have the knowledge, strength and the will to face the supernatural forces at work in their home town. Forces which on reflection were always present in their lives, but which are manifesting themselves in more prominent forms.
Slightly random point which came up in the story: I don't like killer zombie video games, but had to smile when it mentioned that Bethan preferred books to these type of games. A girl can like both! The point is referenced again in a roundabout fashion by Hashim's brother.
Themes (yes, I like my themes in books): the story explores how people present themselves to others. Everyone in the group holds a part of themselves back. Some are more true to themselves than others - I'd say Bethan was the most likely the one who portrayed her true nature most accurately to the world. The situations which presented a way for the group to reveal what they'd been hiding were realistic - in real life, random situations lead to personal revelations between friends.
The story also touches very briefly on threats from gangs, children having to go into care, and threat to personal safety.
I like how the reader knows one of the five friends will die. It kept me guessing all the way through who it might be. Naturally, being one of the five it wasn't a total surprise to me. I half-guessed part of it, but by no means all. Knowing the truth, I want to re-read it already. I'll definitely re-read it before the next book comes out this September!