Charlotte Usher is a marginalized teen who fantasizes about dating the most popular boy in school. She has big plans and schemes, but one day, in school, she chokes on a gummy bear and dies. She finds that the afterlife is just as difficult to deal with as her life was, as she still has a strange version of afterlife "school" she must attend. Her fellow dead students are just as hard to take as the live ones were, and she still finds herself obsessing about her crush, Damen Dylan. She finds a way to interact with the living, despite the fact that she is warned against such methods, and despite the fact that her fellow ghosts are in dire need of her help. She slowly comes to understand that she has people counting on her, but all that really matters to her is Damen and her "popularity plan."
The packaging on this book was what first caught my eye - the sequel arrived at my library, so I put this first one one hold to check out. It appeared to have many elements that I enjoy - an intriguing version of the afterlife, interactions between the living and the dead, a humorous take on a dismal situation, etc. But I found Charlotte to be so very self involved and superficial that I could not really care what happened to her. Plus I have very little patience (ahem, Bella!) with characters who only define themselves based on their relationships with boys. I find "You complete me" to be a creepy, suffocating and unhealthy sentiment. At first I thought the book was going to be funny and satirical - choking on a gummy bear, for instance, seemed to indicate that the story was headed in that direction. But it felt as though the story wavered between taking itself very seriously and not taking itself seriously enough, if that makes any sense. Either give me a character to care about in a situation with consequences that make sense, or give me a story that is clever and funny enough that I don't care if I connect very well with the characters. This one was right in between, and I guess that's why it didn't work well for me. Teens at my library seem to love the series, though, if the books' dilapidated condition is any indication, and this may just be one of those novels that younger readers will enjoy on levels that adults(at least this adult) just don't get.
Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley (Little, Brown and Co., 2008)