There’s nothing like a good Halloween story that lands right at the exact moment of the actual holiday, but “Ghostgirl” a funny, ironic, and extremely dark book by Tonya Hurley reached the New York Times top 10 bestseller list right during this spooky holiday season. The book is so, well, emo to put it in a musical perspective, and reminiscent of collaboration between Emily Strange and Evanescence (“Bring Me To Life” more specifically). Ghostgirl is about a girl in high school named Charlotte Usher and her hilarious struggles with typical teenage angst, not being popular, liking a boy who barely knows she exists, and of course her trials with feeling invisible -until she really is and comes back as a ghost.
After choking on a gummy bear, Charlotte comes back to a Dead Ed classroom full of other dead teens that still for some reason, even though they’re dead, have to go to school. While the concept may seem morbid, it taps into the growing subculture dubbed “demento mori” by Publishers Weekly meaning dark, witty, ghostly young adult fiction. But really, this book is a reflection of how many young people feel in general and their thoughts associated with the irony of death, humor, young love, and what it takes to be truly seen. It also correlates with current punk and Goth fashion motifs in black, angled dark haircuts, heavy eyeliner, and Hot Topic accessories.
The book is also unique in many other respects, tapping into the growing importance of packaging: it’s bound in a black hardcover with a die-cut (no pun intended) coffin shaped “window” through with you can see Charlotte’s shadow crossed with a pink sash that reads “Rest in Popularity.” The sides are silver and each chapter starts with a window describing a feeling or emotion, or lyrics to words from strategic songs and bands such as The Smiths, The Cure, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Belle and Sebastian, Death Cab for Cutie, My Chemical Romance, or poets such as William Blake and of course Edgar Allen Poe.
Written in teen-speak with references intermingled between music, pop culture, and acronyms, the story progresses quickly with a sense of dark humor, not to mention very cool graphics of roses, shadows, ravens, and scripted fonts. Ghostgirl is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding what’s going on with a growing segment of youth culture today, or to simply get up to speed on what’s bound to be a strong, new young adult fiction genre.
Ghostgirl is published by Little, Brown and Company. Expect part 2 coming out in July, 2009.