Pico, Texas is full of secrets, as Chris discovers when his family unwittingly moves into the town’s haunted house.
As an Asian adoptee relocating from a big city, Chris worries about fitting into a small-town high school still using a Rebel soldier for its mascot. But, to his relief, the attitudes of the town are changing, and soon he has friends, a job, and a cute new neighbor.
Still, the shadow of a less tolerant time lingers.
Sixty years ago, Charlotte Monroe was murdered in Pico, hanged from the oak outside of Chris’s bedroom window. Chris is sure that it’s her ghost he hears every night. As the weeks go by and Charlotte’s midnight wailing gives way to violent outbursts, Chris knows that to save his family he must put the sins of the past to rest.
So even though this book is kind of a young adult horror (and as we all know from my past reviews I am not a huge fan of young adult, and horror just freaks me out), I was actually pretty excited about this book. And here is why, it takes place in my Texas, my home state which I miss terrible, second because the high school has a rebel for a mascot, my high school had a rebel for its mascot, oh and third I’m adopted too! It’s always fun when a book has different parts about it that you can identify from your own life.
For me this book was way more mystery than horror (yay cause I really don’t like horror). It still had some of the standard horror elements like ghosts, but it for me the story felt more about the characters themselves and figuring out what happened/is happening to the respective characters in the book. The fact that it read more like a mystery with a paranormal element made the book easier to read for me. In fact the suspenseful elements and mystery made me have to know what was going on, and made me want to read faster so I could find out what was going to happen next.
I found that I liked the book was written as well. One of my bigger complaints with YA is that the author has a tendency to talk down to the reader or “dumb it down”, but this book did not have that feel about it at all. In fact I think writing was pretty smart. There were so comedic elements throughout the book which I think adds a bit of relief to a overall serious book, which can be important to have in YA. I think that it’s written from a male point of view makes it stand out in a crowd of other YA books, which is important now that so many YA books are coming out. And even though it’s being told from the male point of view I could easily see the appeal of the book for both male and female readers.
I thought the character of Chris was really well written. I think he is well thought out, has enough depth to him that I think almost anyone could find one element of themselves in the character, and therefore identify with him. And I also like that the book didn’t just stick to the paranormal element, Chris’ life is impacted by way more than just the paranormal, he is impacted also by real life, and real things that real people can identify with.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a really easy read. In fact I think it may have been my favorite YA book I have read this year, and shockingly I have read a lot of really good YA books this year, so the fact that this is my favorite so far is saying something. I think anyone who enjoys paranormal would enjoy this book, even if you are a person who doesn’t enjoy YA. But if you do enjoy YA then this book is for sure one that you should check out!