REVIEW: Spirits of Ash & Foam by Greg Weisman

Spirits of Ash and Foam by Greg Weisman
“Spirits of Ash & Foam” by Greg Weisman
THE LOWDOWN:

Welcome to the Prospero Keys (or as the locals call them: the Ghost Keys), the beautiful chain of tropical islands on the edge of the Bermuda Triangle where Rain Cacique lives. When Rain’s maternal grandfather passed away, he left her his special armband: two gold snakes intertwined, clasping each other’s tails in their mouths. Rain soon discovers that the armband is actually a zemi – a very powerful talisman created by the island’s native Arawak Taino Indians – and that it allows Rain to see ghosts, including her own grandfather who is determined to help her uncover the Ghost Keys’ hidden world of mystery and mysticism, intrigue and adventure.

Now, Rain Cacique’s looking for a few answers — and the second zemi, a Taino relic that allows her to see dead people. But it’s the first week of school, so she’s pretty busy juggling teachers, homework, baby-sitting duties, new friends, missing tourist kids… and a vampire with a tribal twist.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

Monday, September 8

I must have dozed off. With a start, I woke up beneath a mahogany tree to find the clearing deserted.  Only minutes before, or so it seemed, the N.T.Z. had been packed with local teens celebrating the end of summer.Or celebrating despite the end of summer, I suppose.  But now there wasn’t a soul in view.  Or a ghost, for that matter.

—Paperback edition

SNAPSHOT:

Filtered through the eyes of Opie the dog–yes, that’s right, a dog–this one is a mixed bag.

The author has a lot of famous friends who gave strong reviews of the first novel (folks like Danica McKellar, Stan Lee, Jonathan Maberry, and Jonathan Frakes). Weisman also mostly writes and produces comic books and animated children’s television (Gargoyles, Young Justice).  For all the positive of having more cultures represented in young adult literature, this one might have been better served up as a comic or tv show.  The narrative shtick of omniscient dog narrator removes a lot of the agency and urgency of the teens’ plots.  Too often we’re cut back to some adult or other, particularly villains–where that might work well in comics and animation, here it serves to pull readers away from the characters they are supposed to identify with.

For characters that are 13-years-old, they often feel much younger than that.  Equally, there are times where the adult behind the curtain is apparent by what comes across as out-dated dialogue and shoehorning in bland romantic tension (a lot of telling how hot someone is or how attracted people are to each other; and every teen sees each other as potential romantic partners to an almost sickening degree in the beginning–but it’s never actively important).  The general plot has the stars taking actions that, again, seem better suited to television.  Definitely a good transition novel in that sense for readers stepping up from Percy Jackson and Harry Potter.

Appropriate for ages 12+.  Some mild language and bullying, intense situations, moderate violence.

Deals with family, responsibility, loss, friendship, and culture.

 

GET IT ON YOUR SHELF

If you…

  • Enjoy Magical Girl ensembles
  • Are a a fan of shows like Jackie Chan Adventures
  • Need a little harmless fun for a while

 

THE ESSENTIALS:

YA Paranormal

Paperback & Ebook, 368 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by St. Martin’s Griffin (ISBN 1250029821)

(Review copy provided by Bridget Hartzler at St. Martin’s Griffin.)


Review by Olivia Hennis, originally published 9/24/2014 on YoungAdultMag.com

http://www.youngadultmag.com/the-killing-woods.html

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