Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Ghost Job and The Beatles Couldn't Read Music? (Wait! What?)

van Eekhout, Greg. Ghost Job
September 26, 2023 by HarperCollins 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

When a gas leak blows up in a science lab, it kills four students. Nicholas, Vanessa, and Eddie all die, but keep hanging out at their school, usually in the auditorium, where they disconcert the custodian. They all seem to have some superpowers, and decide that even though they are dead, they should keep learning. They come up with some independent study projects, but when Zenith, who is our narrator, realizes that her family is selling her home and moving away, she decides that the group needs to act. They consult a local medium, Maddie, and ask for advice. Maddie suggests that they steal certain magical or ghost related artifacts for her, and she'll help them, and they do conduct a few raids. They also become aware of Campion Slate, a noted but evil necromancer, who has constructed a machine called the Redeemer. It is rumored that it can bring people back to life, so the group decides to steal the machine and test it out. It's not easy to do, and they are foiled by dogs and even try to trick Slate by claiming he's won a neighborhood award, but they get close. Unfortunately, Nicholas is captured in a bottle by Slate's minions, and the group has to learn how to get him out of that situation. Of course, soon they are captured as well. Will Zenith be able to return to her family, or will the group finally embrace the idea that they are dead?
Strengths: Are we seeing a new trend in necromancy? Ellie Engle Saves Herself also relied heavily on this topic, but I can't really think of other middle grade books that do. There are lots of good details about how the children function as ghosts, and the fact that Maddie was able to identify them as different kinds of supernatural creatures was fascinating. Zenith, who can physically move objects in ways that the others can't, is a poltergeist. There are lots of plots and schemes, and the four work together well. I appreciate that van Eekhout generally writes stand alone novels (like Kid vs. SquidCogThe Voyage of the Dogs, Fenriss and Mott and Weird Kid), with humor as well as action and adventure. 
Weaknesses: I don't believe in ghosts or in any supernatural phenomena, but necromancy seems a bit... dark. Things that are dead should stay dead. I also don't believe in demons, but whenever a student checks out Monaghan's Mary: The Summoning, I make them promise that they won't summon demons in their bathroom. 
What I really think: This is a good choice for readers who enjoy Fry's Ghosted, Markell's The Ghost in Apartment 2R, Uhrig's The Polter-Ghost Problem, or Meriano's Love, Sugar, Magic series.  I would have enjoyed it a little more if the characters hadn't been tragically killed. 

Gutman, Dan. The Beatles Couldn't Read Music? (Wait! What?)
September 19, 2023 by Norton Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

If you have readers who love the Who Was biographies, take a look at Dan Gutman's new Wait. What? series, including this title on the ever popular Beatles. Even I learned something, and I have a close friend who is SUPER into them, so I already knew a lot! I've visited Liverpool TWICE, once with aforementioned friend as well as with my daughter, Picky Reader. Picky Reader, coincidentally, was a huge fan of Gutman's work. Lots of good information in this, and arranged in a way that is engaging and well suited to emergent or reluctant readers. 

No comments:

Post a Comment