The Awakening is the first book in Marley Gibson's new Ghost Huntress series. It's about a sixteen-year-old girl named Kendall who moves from her "beloved twenty-two-hundred square-foot high-rise condo on the Gold Coast of Chicago to this creaky old Victorian house here in Radisson, Georgia". Something about moving to a quieter location causes Kendall's previously dormant psychic powers to awaken. Together with a newly acquired group of friends, Kendall becomes a ghost huntress, someone who uses scientific means to detect and prove the existence of ghosts, while also using traditional psychic methods to help the spirits to "pass on."
I must admit that I very nearly put this book aside, unfinished. I was annoyed by Kendall's incessant brand-name-dropping ("At home in Chicago, I'd have my favorite Patagonia Synchilla blanket", "I took the world's hottest shower and got dressed in the Blue Cult jeans that Marjorie gave me", etc.), and constant references to how much better it was to live in Chicago, not to mention her over-the-top hormonal response upon meeting the boy of her dreams (she actually passes out, though this is partly due to the whole psychic thing). But something kept me reading. I think it was the idea that actual teens would be able to relate, far better than I, to Kendall's voice. [Also, please note that I'm reviewing from the ARC, and can't speak to the final form of hte book.]
At any rate, by the end of the book, I was ready for the next title in the series (The Guidance). Kendall grew on me, as she settled in to her new life, and eased up on the brand-dropping. The other characters are engaging and diverse. Kendall and her new best friend, Celia, quote Shakespeare at each other, while another friend reverts to speaking French in times of crisis. I'll be interested to see if the characters develop further in the next book. I also enjoyed the peeks into the science behind modern-day ghost-hunting (reminiscent of Daniel Hecht's Cree Black series, written for adults).
Here are a couple of other passages, to give you a feel for the book:
"I don't want to be one of those messed-up kids on seven different medications for all sorts of afflictions. I want to be a normal teenager who goes to school, has friends, watches too much TV, talks on the cell incessantly, and plans for her future. Not too much to ask, right?" (Chapter One)
"Good thing Mom can't hear the wild pounding of my heart or the ringing in my ears. And that irritating headache from last night has returned. Only this time, it's in the back of my neck. Thump, thump, thump, like there's a tiny elf with an even tinier hammer beating on my cerebellum." (Chapter Two)
"I block out Taylor's photographing and just concentrate on my surroundings. It's so dismal and ... full of lives cut short, of heartache and heartbreak and physical suffering. Of course it is a cemetery, so one would assume these things are in the atmosphere. But the sensations literally encompass me, garroting me with their persistent fingers. Opening my eyes slowly, I see them. All around me. Scattered about the cemetery. (Chapter Twelve)
Overall, I think that many teens will enjoy the Ghost Huntress series. Kendall and her love interest, Jason, have a bit of a Edward and Bella vibe going (instant and irresistible attraction, masked initially by bickering). There's plenty of creepy peril to keep readers turning the pages. And the whole idea that "the science is real", introduced in a foreword, is intriguing enough to make people pick up the book in the first place.
Publication Date: May 4, 2009
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher. Quotes are from the ARC, and may not reflect the final book.
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.