My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads: Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.
But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling—her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts.
Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.
My take: This is a simply fun book that contains all the elements of an enjoyable read. Let's go through them:
Likeable protagonist. She could be anybody. She isn't any "type" of person. She also isn't a blank slate. She has a personality but can't be pigeon-holed.
Possible love interest: Three dimensional. Not Mr. Popular. Not Mr. I'm-So-Bad. His name is Nathanial because it sounds so proper. So Isobel calls him "Nate." Just to be contrary.
Dialogue: Told first person from Isobel's perspective, it is snarky, clever, and ever so witty. This is my favorite type of humor. Her internal dialogue cracks. Me. Up. Very funny.
Genre: Mystery/Contemporary YA/Paranormal but I promise there are no vampires or werewolves.
How it all meshes: Excellent. What Isobel has is a seriously creepy stepfather with issues, an estranged father since his psychotic break and her mother's prodding of estrangement, possible ghost sightings, the Mean Girls group interested in her hot stepbrother, hot stepbrother which makes things a little on the weird side if they are, indeed, attracted to one another, mother who doesn't seem terribly supportive of her only child's needs, and the child may be going crazy like her dad OR she may be seeing ghosts. Neither sounds preferable.
Long-term message: There actually is one, even if it is somewhat peripheral. Isobel eventually confronts the fact that her father is mentally ill and he does not have the plague. This is addressed in a very appropriate manner and well articulated.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. There are a couple of "f" bombs but swearing and dialogue are not extreme or distracting. The writing is clever which I always love. Humor is snarky which I understand. Story is creepy but not disgustingly so. Just enough to maybe want to sleep with a nightlight.