The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

With a chilling and intriguing beginning, Neil Gaiman instills a desire to keep reading. It’s one of those books that you almost cannot put down once you start. Gaiman’s unique plot line and incredible writing skills create such a vivid image in your head, it’s like you’re standing right there, in the middle of a graveyard.

Starting off with the gruesome death of a family, Gaiman automatically begins his book with an adventure. The story only gets better when the reader realizes the family’s baby slipped away unnoticed by the killer and ventures out the front door to, where else, but a graveyard. Gaiman writes with a dramatic, ominous tone and paints a picture of the dark sky and lonely graveyard. After a suspenseful scene, the baby is hidden by the intrigued spirits of the yard in the nick of time. A problem begins to rise when residents of the graveyard debate if the child should be taken in or not. Soon it is revealed that the human child will be adopted by the spirits and granted the Freedom of the Graveyard. The baby is introduced with a new name, Nobody “Bod” Owens, and the novel unwinds to reveal Bod’s adventures within the graveyard premises. Surely with the hundreds of ghosts to the mysterious man who lives on the borderline of life and death, Bod would be safe. But Gaiman’s novel doesn’t rest on safety and support; rather it’s the complete opposite.

Gaiman spins off into a wonderful journey starting from when Bod is at the young age of four. The graveyard holds many thrills and Bod makes no hesitation to jump right in. He befriends fellow humans and goes on reckless adventures, specifically to the grave of a Sleer: a snakelike creature who is the oldest creature in the graveyard and guards precious treasure. Bod also has a tendency to get himself into trouble; this is a result of his curiosity and mischievous personality. He literally falls into a death trap when he falls through a ghoul gate. He is transported into the Underworld and is on the brink of death before he is rescued by an unlikely soul. The young protagonist continues to stumble through life inside and outside of the graveyard. He encounters near death, celebratory dances, risky friendships and lasting memories until the end.

Neil Gaiman uniquely twists the themes of love, home, safety and family by setting his story in a graveyard, a place normally acquainted with death, gore, horror and dullness. Bod realizes that life is always changing and there’s always more to discover. The reader learns along with Bod, runs side by side Bod in his adventures, fights evil alongside Bod and ultimately, falls in love with the graveyard as Bod does.

-Jessica T.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive and Hoopla

Ashes to Ashes by Melissa Walker

Image result for ashes to ashes by melissa walkerCallie McPhee is prepared to have a great summer. She has her boyfriend Nick, her best friend Carson, and a new BMW. Even though her best friend is still obsessed with ghosts, and Nick seems a little bit off lately, Callie knows that she is going to have a great summer before her junior year. Except when tragedy strikes while Callie is speeding and distracted by a phone call from Nick. This isn’t the summer she imagined.

Callie wakes up in something called the Prism, where she finds out she’s dead and is assigned a Guide named Thatcher. Callie isn’t a “normal” ghost, and develops a rebellious streak. She wants to live a little by hanging out with the “bad” group of ghosts and haunt on her own. But when the poltergeists, the bad group, starts turning more dangerous, Callie must figure what’s right. She has to watch her father, friend, and boyfriend go through different types of grief, and sort out her new feelings for Thatcher. When the poltergeists go past a boundary that Callie didn’t know was possible and Thatcher feared, they must do the impossible. Will the poltergeists stop? Read the book to find out.

I thought Ashes to Ashes was a great paranormal romance novel. Once you read this book, you have to know what happens next in the sequel, Dust to Dust. Ashes to Ashes makes you think a lot about ghosts. I will recommend this book to anyone who wants a good paranormal romance book.

-Rebecca V.

Ashes to Ashes is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Conjuring

the_conjuringThe Conjuring, supposedly a true story, is about a family in the 1960’s that move into a new house and start to experience supernatural occurrences. The plot of the movie focuses on the strange and frightening things happening to the family and the couple who tries to help them because they “hunt” ghosts and demons. The movie starts off with a peek into another horror film, Annabelle, which led me to believe I was watching the wrong movie at first. After the clip ends, the scene shifts to a classroom where the couple teach people about the beings they hunt to stop them from haunting and killing people. Here, they meet the mother of the family and learn about the things living in her house. It’s interesting because there isn’t just one ghost but many spirits haunting the land. After the team of hunters settle into the house, more supernatural action happens which is scary to see at first just because this movie isn’t very predictable, which is one of the things I like about it.

An interesting addition to the characters is that the wife in the couple has a sort of sixth sense which allows her to sense the entities around her, only making her more fun to watch. With most scary movies, you can tell when the scary thing will pop out and what it’s going to be, but this story made it more exciting and thrilling for me. I liked the element of surprise, especially because only certain members of the family seemed able to see the entities at first so you never knew when they would show a scary ghost or not. Lastly, with the ending of the movie, I thought it wrapped up well and left me, not only satisfied with the story, but able to go to bed and not worry about what could be hiding in my closet. I would recommend this movie to anyone who can handle scary scenes in the dark. It’s one of the best horror movies I have seen so far, not too scary but good enough so you’re not bored or expecting what’s to come.

-Sabrina C., 10th Grade

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

shade_jerismithreadyFrom The Encyclopedia of Shade:

Shift – a remarkable period of time that scientists can’t explain. Every baby, called “post-shifters”, born after this time has been able to see ghosts as a strange, purple hue. It happened almost seventeen years ago.

Red – the color that ghosts can’t take very well. If anyone, including a post-shifter, wears red, the ghost will stay away from them.

BlackBoxed – a new and remarkable invention that allows an entire room to be either free from ghosts or keep ghosts in. This means that if a room is BlackBoxed, ghosts can’t get in or out.

Aura– a young girl of sixteen (almost seventeen) years. There is a huge possibility that she is the first post-shifter, but it is not in solid facts yet. Her mother died from cancer and father is unknown, so her guardian is her mother’s sister, Aunt Gina. With her Aunt Gina, she helps ghosts move on to the Afterlife. After her boyfriend Logan died and she was able to see him as a ghost, she decided to also help him move on and prove to others that he didn’t know what he was doing when he died.

Logan- a ghost who died on his seventeenth birthday. He died because he was drinking, and then took drugs to stay awake and alert, not knowing that a combination of alcohol and drugs could kill him. While he was alive, he was in a band with some of his friends. However, he could become a Shade because of all the hatred he has as a ghost. He is still in love with Aura after he dies.

Zachary– a young Pre-shifter from Scotland. There is a possibility that he is the last Pre-shifter, but it is not certain. He has transferred to Aura’s school after his dad had his work transferred to America. Coincidentally, he is also Aura’s astrology partner, and has the same birth date as her.

Shade– what ghosts can become if they get too angry. They appear as all black hues, and make post-shifters sick. Unlike ghosts, they can go anywhere they want. However, they are always angry, and it is a bitter hell for them. If a ghost turns into a Shade, they cannot turn back, ever. Aura is afraid Logan would turn into one of these.

Overall view- very well written. This book will have readers off the edges of their seats as they solve spectacular mysteries, such as Aura’s father and why the Shift happened. Additionally, the characters were just like one would meet in everyday life and seem to be as real as the person who sits next to them. There is also the idea of suspense, with the readers wondering what will happen next and if the story will be a happily ever after. And when the story does reach its end, the readers will be sad that there isn’t more.

Warning- There is mature content such as drugs, alcohol, etc. Additionally, this book is the first of a trilogy, meaning that readers will be craving for the next book.

-Megan V., 10th grade

Shade is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.