It all begins with our tortured protagonist, Emma, who spends her days roaming the local cemetery where she and her dead boyfriend, Daniel, spent their happiest moments drinking whiskey atop gravestones. Huh…is it just me, or doesn’t that seem like a rather bizarre pastime? Kids these days…
So Emma breaks out of her funk when the mysterious new boy, Alex Franks, enters the scene at the local coffee stand, Mugz and Chugz. Wow of all the names you could give a coffee place…really? Emma soon finds herself enraptured by his otherworldly connection to Daniel.
Keeping with the formula of most YA dark romances, Emma and Alex are bewildered by their instant connection, and after a lot of push and pull they eventually fall headfirst into the deep abyss of teenage love. Sorry if that was a spoiler, but I’m sure anyone who reads the synopsis will know where this is heading.
After encountering the enigmatic new boy in town, Emma’s obsession with the dead boyfriend ebbs away. For this I am very thankful because a lot of teen brooding goes a loooong way. Although she’s out of her funk, she still insists on clinging onto Daniel’s damned hoodie to the point of obsession. My god, the word “hoodie” must have appeared in the book at least 500 times! I was really tired of that effing hoodie. And wouldn’t you know it, Alex wears a hoodie all day, every day too. I’m willing to bet this author is a fan of The Gap.
So as Emma and Daniel grow closer, she finds that he possesses qualities that are intrinsic to the dead boyfriend. He knows her secret pet name. He has the amazing ability to open her temperamental locker with just a wiggle and a punch. It’s all very uncanny. Things get even weirder when she finds Alex’s father is the town’s resident Dr. Giggles. What is going on with Alex’s otherworldly connection to dead animals? What caused all of those ghastly scars that he’s hiding under that darn hoodie? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
To be fair, this book is made for teens, so I’m not going to get down on all the melodrama. Teens are hypersensitive drama junkies, so I’m sure they can totally relate to all the brooding and over-the-top descriptions of high school hell. I was, in fact, thoroughly entertained by the mean girl antics in the “Ugly Room.” Anyone who wasn’t a part of the “in crowd” knows that high school gym was created solely to torment young girls with body and self-esteem issues.
Overall, this is an entertaining book for teens, not so much YA-loving adults. Although the pacing was rather slow, I have to give A.E. Rought props for her lyrical prose. She does a fantastic job setting the scene – complete with moonlit cemeteries, undead night-walking creatures and leering jack-o’-lanterns. I’m not sure if I’ll read another book in this series, but I certainly will look out for other titles by this author because she truly is a gifted writer.