Two middle schoolers with secret paranormal powers accidentally swap those powers when they kiss each other at a party in this series opener.
Thirteen-year-old Lena really doesn’t want to be a soul collector, but she’s the one with the power to help the dying along to After. If she refuses to do it, she knows their souls will wander aimlessly, a dismal fate. Likewise, her classmate Marcus, who’s had his eye on Lena as potential girlfriend material for some time, really doesn’t want to be a matchmaker, but he’s stuck with the talent. They even have the same boss, Eddie, who gives them their assignments. Neither, of course, knows the other has paranormal abilities until they kiss on a dare, experience an amazing spark of energy, and later realize that they’ve swapped powers. Both inexperienced in their new fields, they start to make mistakes, driving Eddie to distraction. Try as they might, they can’t seem to switch powers back again. As always, Staniszewski provides a deft mix of comedy and sensitive, deeper themes, making her book not only entertaining, but one that offers wisdom. She knows where to mine the humor from middle school life but does not sacrifice her characterizations for easy laughs.
Light—but not lightweight—fun for preteens. (Paranormal comedy. 10-13)