Mary has always been different. She’d like to be normal, but being able to hear ghosts means she’ll never be like everyone else. She starts her junior year of high school hoping to be left alone, but Cyrus Asher is new and doesn’t know or seem to care that she’s an outcast. They start hanging out and all is well until she goes over to his house. Cy’s house is haunted, and not by Caspar, the friendly ghost.
Mary is an outcast at her school. She can hear ghosts, and that, complemented with her macabre sense of humor, has earned her the title of 'Scary Mary' or freak, if classmates don't want to get too formal. However, the new kid, Cy, doesn't seem too bad. In fact, Mary kind of likes him. But when she goes over to his house, she finds that Cy's house is haunted, and not by any old thing, but by a malevolent and dangerous spirit.
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars
This book had a chance at being good, had the writing been better. As it stands, it was written poorly and awkwardly. The prose had no cadence to it at all, making the style about as dry and bland as my mom's overcooked chicken. Though the author did use some 'show, don't tell', nothing ever lifted off of the page, or felt real.
Mary has a sour additute. I'm fine with unlikeable characters, as I've said in my review of Styrofoam Throne. But it should be pretty obvious if the author wants you to like their protag; this author did. I can't say that anything really wanted me to keep reading on about her. She had a lot of internal misogyny to work out, calling Vicky a 'bimbo' and refusing to put a bulk of the blame on anyone but her.
Speaking of the characters, everyone is such dull stereotypes. Mary is the ~good but misunderstood~ outcast; Vicky is the alpha bitch cheerleader; Rachel is the quirky and outgoing fellow outcast; Cy is the new kid, seemingly drawn toward our protagonist, etc. I want to know if this author has ever even been to a high school or if they are taking stereotypes from Hollywood. I was never a popular kid. Sometimes people did make fun of me, or at least try to. You know who didn't? The popular kids. The really popular ones? The ones who have a lot of power in the student body? Those are literally the nicest people you will ever meet. The mean ones actually aren't that popular - everyone stays out of their way but actually hates them. Like, how do people think kids get popular? Being likeable is a hhuuuuuggee part of that, and I'm tired of this idea that cheerleaders are inherently mean. I was getting My Immortal flashbacks. Almost expected someone to say 'goffics rox n preps suck!' because that was the underlying tone of the entire book.
No diversity whatsoever. A bunch of straight white teens plus grandma. Now, could diversity have helped this book? I don't know, I know it wouldn't have saved the writing for sure, but it definitely couldn't have hurt. And it would have been so easy too! For instance: Mary is black (how many black goth girls are included in paranormal books? You would already be breaking the mold!), Cy is bisexual and his lashing out at Mary was in part because he was struggling to understand his feelings for another boy at the school (combined with The Little Mermaid allusion, which was a story created by a bisexual man who fell in love with a man who couldn't love him back), Rachel is genderqueer and frequently changes her hair and look to match her feelings about her gender, Vicky uses a hearing aid. Like, I would have enjoyed that. I might have still been critical of the elementary writing, but I would have enjoyed the characters a lot more.
Dialogue was alright. There were times it seemed to flow well. However, I don't remember 'said' anywhere in the book, the author opting to minimize the amount of dialogue tags used. Which is great and can make dialogue snappy, but there were times I couldn't figure out who was speaking.
Some plot weirdness. Cy is the new kid but seems to know Vicky and dislike her for reasons? Cy is interested in Mary then hates her and can't stand her as suddenly as he liked her? Mary hating everyone then suddenly having support in a friend and becoming spontaneously nicer? Not much is consistent. Also some weird grammar things, particularly with the subjunctive tense. Took me out of the story to scratch my head a bit.
All in all, not feeling it. It's alright, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. I give it a 2 out of 5 stars.