Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Review: Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen

Title: Past Midnight
Author: Mara Purnhagen
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: 09/01/2010
ISBN: 0373210205

Unless you've been studiously avoiding noticing such titles, there's no mistaking that paranormal teen fiction has enjoyed an enormous raise in popularity in the past few years. As such, more & more authors are putting out their own stories to thrill & entertain readers both young & old. (Let's be honest- teen fiction rocks regardless of how old you are.) With large amounts of similarly themed books entering the market it's difficult to find something that puts a different spin on things. Purnhagen seems to have found a good way to put a spin on the typical "girl & ghosts" story.

Since the moment she was born, Charlotte has grown up in a family of ghost chasers. Not just any ghost chasers but famous ghost chasers with their own television show & bestselling books. While Charlotte will admit that some of the perks are awesome such as traveling all over the world, the rest of it isn't so glamorous. She'd give anything to be able to stay in one spot for a while so she can finally have a normal life with friends she didn't have to say goodbye to a few months after meeting them. When her older sister strongarms her parents into settling into one area for Charlotte using a recent ghost scare as incentive, Charlotte's sure that she'll finally be able to achieve normality. Unfortunately whatever seemed to have freaked her sister out has followed Charlotte. And it isn't leaving until it gets what it wants...

While there's been a lot- and I mean A LOT- of "girl & ghost" stories out there, there hasn't been too many that have a reality ghost hunt show theme or plot element to them. Readers will enjoy this unique idea because it not only helps to set the book apart from a lot of similarly themed books, but it also helps to explain how Charlotte is exposed to ghosts & will continue to be exposed to ghosts. (This is the first book in a series.) Many will be able to commiserate with Charlotte's non-ghostly woes, especially the frustration about having to move & leave friends behind. Others will enjoy that Purnhagen didn't go for the "cheerleader mean girl" stereotype that many other teen books often employ. Charlotte does have the beginnings of a nemesis, but it's not a cheerleader & this girl actually seems to have somewhat of a reason to dislike her.

However where the tale seems to lack is in speed. Things take a very long time to get started & for such a short book, that seemed to detract from the overall enjoyment. This wasn't a huge detractor, but enough of one that many readers will wish for things to happen a little more quickly.

Overall though, the characters are great, the plot is interesting, & Purnhagen really does seem to be on the right track here with this series. This book deserves at least one good read (or three) & I can really see this becoming a favorite with many readers.

(ARC provided by Netgalley)

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