Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Ghosts of Ashbury High

The Ghosts of Ashbury High
written by Jaclyn Moriarty

I had read and enjoyed Jaclyn Moriarty's The Year of Secret Assignments many years ago, and, since then, had also read all of her other books. In preparation for The Ghosts of Ashbury High, I decided to reread her previous books, all set in Ashbury High. The thing you have to love about Moriarty's books is her ability to interweave plots but still have each story definitely hold its own. Characters from one story will unexpectedly cameo (or even play a large role) in the next. Bindy Mackenzie, annoying transcriber from The Year of Secret Assignments suddenly has her own books, The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie. This book goes back to featuring some of our favorite characters from The Year of Secret Assignments, but throws two new characters in the mix, Amelia and Riley. Amelia and Riley have a strange air of mystery around them, throwing the school into mass speculation and rumors of ghosts in their midst. This is their senior year at Ashbury High, and as such, is also the final book in the Ashbury High series. So I was expecting a grand finale, and I have to say, I was underwhelmed. It's not that The Ghosts of Ashbury High was a bad's just...having read Moriarty's other books, I know she is capable of better writing and better storytelling. Ending the (mostly) realistic series with a ghost story seemed oddly out of place, as was the introduction of these strange new characters we had never seen before. I think it would have been neat to culminate the series by bringing all of the old characters together, without necessarily having this strange ghost plotline. At the very least, the ghost plot should have taken a background role rather than being the main story. The book took a while to get anywhere, and it did eventually pick up speed, but the 'gothic literature' needed to go. Toby's journal entries, in particular, rubbed me the wrong way. They were essential to the story, but I couldn't bring myself to care in the slightest, which saddened me, as Toby is a character with very much potential. There were themes in this book that could have been explored more, such as the powerful idea of clinging to childhood, which I would have loved to see more of. The novel wraps up in an explosive finale, and part of me wishes that Part 4 of 4 would have been stretched out to be the entirety of the novel. The ghost storyline actually gains speed and development, and turns into a legitimate plot. I just wish that had been done sooner or not at all. A mess of a review for a great book that just could have been organized better to bring us the finale we should have had.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book from...:Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

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