This is the story of a group of ghost-busting teens in a town where the mayor considers them juvenile delinquents and someone or something has awakened evil forces. The central character is Aubrey, a kid with the ability to see what others can’t. His group of friends includes a chubby geek called Buzz and several less memorable characters.
The bad guys consist of the Mayor and his cronies, a bunch of freaky alien-style creatures and some dubious humans with suspect agendas. At first it’s hard to see how the bad guys relate to each other, or even to be sure who is a bad guy, but things do get clearer as the book progresses. The author certainly has a great imagination when it comes to the physical characteristics of these creatures.
Frankly, though, I had a hard time reading this book. I never related to the characters enough to care what happened to them, and though the basic idea was sound and the plot had ample opportunities for drama, the author never realised its potential. I think this was primarily a case of not being able to see the scenery due to the bumpy ride and rampant weeds. Simply put, the clumsy prose constantly pulled me out of the story.
The sentence constructions lacked variety and sophistication. Sentences often began with a character’s name, even the same one in several consecutive sentences, and far too often (17 in the first 1%) they began with words ending with ‘ing’ – a construction that makes the prose flat and unimaginative. Passive verbs peppered the prose like measles, and the sentences generally didn’t flow into each other. Their regular pattern was, he did this, he did that, she did something else and so on. The effect was somewhat choppy, making it difficult to read.
The prose also suffered from run on sentences such as ‘Aubrey called with a crack in his voice through the rectangular door,’ and ‘the cat landed with every hair raised on the porch railing.’ I also found myself wondering at terms such as, ‘ruffled stillness’ and ‘anguished relief’ or the noteworthy, ‘her eyes snapped forward.’ I had a rather terrifying image of eyes with teeth that snapped together as they leapt from the character’s eye sockets to attack some unsuspecting person. I’m pretty sure that was not the image the author intended.
Plot wise, the basics were there, but the whole thing needed tightening up, particularly the scenes of the kids with their families, or with other kids at school. These scenes should have contributed to character development at least, but they didn’t, perhaps because the author merely told us what the characters did and rarely how they felt about it. Some scenes didn’t appear to move the story forward in any discernible way, for example the science competition.
The best parts are the more unreal aspects of the story, in particular the scenes between the creatures, and the author does manage to set up some mystery with the characters whose origins and allegiances are unclear.
All up, there’s potential here, but the book needs a lot more work before I could recommend it to anyone.