Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Deception by Lee Nichols

Deception (Haunting Emma)
From Library School Journal: Grade 8 Up—With her antiquities-dealer parents supposedly away on vacation, big brother Max somewhere abroad, and former best friend ignoring her, Emma Vaile, 17, is alone in San Francisco. Expecting freedom, she finds loneliness and trouble instead. Being abandoned and ratted out to Child Protective Services are bad enough, but there's also the return of disturbing visions she hasn't had for a decade. Then Max's ex-friend and Emma's long-standing crush, Bennett Stern, appears with guardianship papers. Taking Emma to his family's Massachusetts mansion/museum, he enrolls her in Thatcher Academy, where she experiences acute déjà vu.

Concerned for her sanity, Emma eventually admits that she sees ghosts. Aloof Bennett reveals that they both have the ability to communicate with them. Someone or something is murdering ghostkeepers and leaving behind a symbol: the design on Emma's mother's unique pendant. The whereabouts of Emma's family, whether Emma and Bennett will (should) be together, and whether he can be trusted are questions to be answered. In this first book in a series, Nichols has left threads untied for future installments. Occasionally, the dialogue is trite and the action cartoonish, but the ghostkeeper premise, lingering mystery, and Emma/Bennett relationship compel the curious to return. Magical ancestors and passed-down powers aside, the novel is not of the caliber of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's emotionally investing Beautiful Creatures (Little, Brown, 2009), but it will appeal to teens craving a quick read.—Danielle Serra, Cliffside Park Public Library, NJ

My take: This is a good read and starts out strong with an ending that leaves me wanting more. The middle of the story dragged me along a little bit.  Some peripheral characters were introduced but not fully developed to my expectations but that could be why they are only peripheral.  200 year old Bennett seems interesting but withdrawn, although he plays an important part in current Emma's skill development.

The author balanced teenage angst with development of paranormal abilities with finesse.  As Emma adjusts to her new social circumstances, she also discovers much more of her ghostkeeping abilities.  Her gifts far outweigh her ability to deal with her personal life yet she continues her attempts at being normal for as long as possible.

I will definitely read the next book in the series.  The last couple of chapters introduced concepts that adds enough intrigue to the story that I want to see a resolution, although I can't fathom how.  I am anxious to see how the author resolves the new conflict.

3 and half stars.

1 comment:

CountessLaurie said...

Sounds interesting. Thanks for the review!