ghostgirl: Homecoming by Tonya Hurley
Little, Brown 2009
Plot Summary: All of the kids from Dead Ed in the previous book have crossed over into the next phase of the afterlife and they wind up at a help line where people call in with problems. Charlotte doesn’t relate well to her peers and it seems like her phone is never ringing and her advice is never sought after. She feels alone and she misses her living friends with whom she had connections. Her new roommate Maddy claims to be looking out for Charlotte’s best interest but ends up trying to sabotage her. In the world of the living, Petula was held back so she’s repeating senior year. She got a bad pedicure which led to an infection and a coma. She’s stuck in a between worlds limbo much like Charlotte's limbo in the previous book. Having learned her lesson about being selfless and helpful, Charlotte sets out to find Petula in the afterlife limbo.
Critical Analysis: Unlike ghostgirl, this book unfortunately falls flat. While the first was inventive and funny, this is dull and unimaginative. It seems like a thrown together afterthought. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that the plot is not compelling and it is not as funny. Hurley's sequel feels very repetitive in that it is the same conflict: Charlotte still does not relate to her peers and is trying to keep her connection with old friends.
As a result of these problems, ghostgirl: Homecoming feels like it drags on. It feels longer than the first one even though it’s not. While the first featured great characterization, the characters were frustrating and lacking empathy the second time around. They were not relatable at all.
Much like the first, the overall lesson or moral was spot on and unique. The message here is to move on after death or whatever major life event occurs. All of the kids from Dead Ed moved on, but not necessarily to what is traditionally thought of as heaven. I appreciated that they simply did not find closure or perfection, they instead were relegated to helping people via their phone service. This way, it is more realistic in that they moved on to a benign existence, but all of their problems are not solved.
Reader’s Annotation: This time around, undead Charlotte will have to travel to the afterlife to find the spirit of someone she doesn’t even like: a cheerleader!
Author Information: Besides being an author, Hurley has written commercials, independent films, and has produced video games. Since ghostgirl was very music-focused novel, the audiobook versions of it feature original songs.
Genre: fantasy, chick lit, humor
Curriculum Ideas: N/A
Booktalking Ideas:How does this book compare to the first? Does the subject matter remain meaningful?
If you were in the author's shoes, is this where you would have taken the story, is there something you would do differently?
Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 12-16
Challenge Issues: N/A
Challenge Defense Ideas: No challenge issues come to mind when reading this book. The best defense is having a strong knowledge of the book, so becoming familiar with it by reading reviews, finding other opinions, and reading it one's self is a good start. One could also refer to the library's collection development policy here.
Why I included this title: After reading the first book, I thought I’d enjoy continuing the series but it was unfortunately disappointing. For big fans of the series, it does give some insight into the serial novel writing process. It is at least a good opportunity for criticism because it is so different from another book. Despite its faults, the ghostgirl series remains unique and oddly moralistic, which can be charming.