by Lois Ruby
Date Read: 5/3/2013
Rating: ★ ★
I received this book from Scholastic through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I think I'd give this 2.5 stars. 2 stars seems a little harsh because I really liked the overall concept and story. But 3 stars is too generous unfortunately.
First I want to talk about what I did like. The concept sound so great. I actually visited Gettysburg when I was younger and I've always thought that that history was so interesting. And I have always been one who loves history, but not reading it out of a book, but going some place and learning about it. So I was very excited when I saw this was taking place in Gettysburg and also that it was a sort of ghost story. I read Anna Dressed in Blood recently, and I absolutely loved it. I was hoping this would live up to that. And add to it the murder mystery. It was right up my alley. I felt like the overall concept was great and when you stepped back and looked at the story as a whole, it was interesting. This wasn't a book that I had to force my way through, but it also wasn't engaging either.
I did really like the history that was strewn throughout this book. I think this is a neat way to introduce Civil War history to young people. And I enjoyed the ghost aspect. I actually thought the ghost lore was interesting. Though I was a little unsure about why Nathaniel wouldn't come back after his mystery was solved. I guess he could cross over and actually go to Heaven?
And I actually liked the ending. For one thing, this book did have a beginning, middle and end. I've grown to find that refreshing - so many authors lately write them as a series and they never actually end any of their books until the very last book. And I really liked [spoiler: the fact that Nathaniel still does disappear. He doesn't somehow stay in solid form even though he's dead. And I like that he tells her to go live her life. That he helped save her life because he was selfless and wanted her to live her life.] It was very refreshing. About the last 10% of the book was by far my favorite part.
On to what I didn't like. I felt that relationship was very forced and very unbelievable. First of all, I felt this was insta-love at it's worst. She met and fell in love with a ghost in 3 days? I don't think so. Maybe in lust. But not in love. And that first day, they barely even talked to each other. So in 3 days they probably spent a few hours together at most...and she's in love? But normally insta-love doesn't bother me as much as other readers, so I tried to put my finger on something else that might be bothering me about it. And I realized that I just didn't feel the connection between Lori and Nathaniel. Perhaps that's because they never built a friendship to build a relationship on? Or just that everything was forced to try to make her interest in solving his murder more realistic? I'm not sure. But the relationship was killing me the entire book. Everytime they talked about their feelings or how they loved each other, I just rolled my eyes and would yell "It's been 3 days!!!" So it really jarred me out of the book. Part of the reason this sounded so interesting to me from the summary was that she was solving his murder and then starts to fall in love with him. But the connection between the characters was not executed well. And maybe if this had spanned more time, it wouldn't feel so insta-lovey and I could get on board more. But unfortunately that wasn't the case and it really brought the story down for me.
I was never actually fully engaged in this book. It wasn't bad. But it didn't keep my fully interested. I felt so much more could have been done with this story. It really was a great concept, I just felt that it fell short in the execution.
Other readers might like this more than I did if they don't mind the insta-love. Perhaps they'll feel more chemistry between the characters. I honestly felt more chemistry between Lori and Evan than she and Nathaniel. Which is sad. I almost felt like the author was going to an Edward-like character (sweet, honorable, old world charm). And she just didn't get there.
All the revelations in the end weren't very surprising to me. It's not that I necessarily predicted everything, but it wasn't mind blowing. It's like I had it predicted in the back of my mind the whole time. There weren't enough suspects to really make it a mystery. [spoiler: I had pretty much summed it up to being either Wince or Edison. I just didn't really put together how it was all going to have gone down. And I think I'm left a little disappointed that it actually wasn't a murder. Well, I guess it was supposed to be with Edison coming to shoot him. But it ended up being an accident.]
It is so hard for me to give this review. I really wanted to love this book. The summary sounded so good! And I love the setting. It just unfortunately fell short of my expectations.