Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Slightly disappointing nightmares

This is the second book in the Golden & Grey series by Louise Arnold, a series that deals with an unpopular new boy at school (Tom Golden), who is "adopted" by Arthur Grey, a ghost who decides to be Tom's invisible friend. In the first book, a series of events renders Tom able to see ghosts while no other living people can.

There are some interesting ideas in these books -- especially the concept that ghosts are not the spirits of the dead, but are beings unto themselves who coexist with the living. And while many of the situations and characters are stereotypical, the addition of the ghosts' world, a whole other dimension with a culture and way of life all its own, gives an otherwise run-of-the-mill situation a clever and often humorous new angle.

I have to say that I enjoyed the first book (Golden & Grey: An Unremarkable Boy and a Rather Remarkable Ghost) more than the second. The sequel wasn't bad; it just wasn't very gripping. There were so many different characters that not much time was spent on developing them, and consequently I found it difficult to care about them.

At the end of the first book, I was a bit disappointed because Tom was rescued from his dire situation by other characters; I like a main character who is able to save himself. In the second book, not only does Tom fail to save the day at the climax of the book -- another, completely minor character does that -- but he also fails to figure out how to right things at the end of the book. He does manage to right things, but he discovers how to do this completely by accident. I find that very unsatisfying, especially in a children's book.

I will not be reading any more of this series, but I might recommend it to children who love insteresting stories with ghostly characters in them.

Golden & Grey: The Nightmares That Ghosts Have by Louise Arnold (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2006)

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