Notes from Ghost Town by Kate Ellison
Edgmont USA | Hardcover, 336 pages
February 12, 2013
Young Adult | Mystery | Suspense
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
I struggled with this book; it turns out, I don’t have the capacity to be patient when the book I’m reading contains a much more evolved mystery. And boy, did this book ever tried my patience.
Notes from Ghost Town is a story about a girl whose realization that she was in love with her best friend came a little too late. Because a week after they kissed, he was murdered. As if that’s not enough to push her into a tailspin of emotional and mental chaos, the accused murderer (and admitted guilty party) was her mother.
Olivia Tithe is a talented painter; but when a sudden onslaught of colour blindness took away her ability to paint, she lost interest in everything else: food tasted bland and everything turned grey. A week or so before her mother’s sentencing, she starts seeing the ghost of Lucas Stern, her best friend. Proof that she’s well on her way to insanity. She’s always known it’s in her blood; after all, her mother is suffering from Schizophrenia herself, and why she admitted to being guilty of killing Stern. But Olivia knows her mother is innocent. She could never kill a boy whom she’d loved as though he were her own son. She has nine days to prove her innocence, but with everyone dissuading her from delving further, it will be difficult to find a someone who would sympathize. Time is running out for her mother, and for Lucas, who is slowly sinking into a realm where the restless dead exist without peace.
I didn’t think it would be possible to grow bored with a mystery novel. It’s supposed to keep you flipping the pages until you unravel all its intricacies. At first, I was genuinely vested in the story. But as time goes by, my interest started waning.
I know a good mystery novel does not reveal its secrets until you get closer to the bitter end. Notes from Ghost Town certainly accomplished that. But for an impatient reader like me, it became a painful practice in the art of waiting – waiting for the story to unravel; waiting for the characters to reveal their true selves.
Herein lies the frustration I have with this novel; which, to be honest is probably the same reason it works for fans of this genre. It was stingy with clues; it gave no hints, and gave away no suspects. Oh don’t get me wrong, the author threw me a bone; but if clues were bones, she gave me a stirrup (smallest bone in the human body). As such, it wasn’t substantial enough for me to bite. It took away the enjoyment of solving the mystery in the midst of reading, and as a result, I grew bored.
Olivia, while she was a fantastic actualization of a girl on the cusp of possibly losing her mind, was a little hard to reach. She didn’t appeal to my sense of empathy, to be honest. She was a mixture of a lot of things but nothing definite.
The grey space that Olivia found herself was something I didn’t enjoy reading. I don’t know how a kiss could bring on such a dramatic change to her world. Was the kiss that good that it spurred on such a drastic/traumatic reaction? Not to mention it’s the equivalent to an injury suffered by a blunt force trauma to the head? Perhaps it’s to add on to the sense that she’s completely losing her mind? However, it felt unnecessary to me. As if seeing Stern’s ghost is not enough to warrant a trip to her therapist’s couch.
The novel itself seems a little disorganized, and lacking – from its characters to the small arches that encompasses the entirety of the story as a whole – I felt dissatisfied over all.
If you’re a true lover of mystery novels in a Young Adult milieu, this book is probably more your forte. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy a mystery novel from time to time, but it has to sustain my interest throughout.