A teenage ghost seeks to help a grief-stricken living boy.
While Ashlyn Baptiste is hovering in the ether wondering why she can’t remember life, Breckon Cody is sulking in his room, wondering why he wants to live. As Ashlyn invisibly engages with Breckon’s life, she begins to recall snippets of her adolescence: orange juice, roast-beef sandwiches, a friend’s betrayal of a devastating secret. She watches as Breckon begins to abuse sleeping pills, breaks off connections with his friends and starts injuring himself in attempts to avoid the pain and guilt he feels over his sister’s accidental death. With her limited influence, Ashlyn tries to save Breckon, even as she wonders why no one was able to save her. Dividing the narrative between Ashlyn and Breckon, Martin brings the same exquisite writing style to this narrative as to her previous works (One Lonely Degree, 2009, etc.). However, overwrought emotions and too-familiar paranormal themes drag down the narrative. Breckon’s moping reaches cartoonish levels quickly, and the revelation of Ashlyn’s mystery is soap-opera–esque rather than emotionally meaningful. Martin’s mastery at depicting real-life scenarios is tainted by the otherworldly element, a needless nod to an all-consuming trend.
Beats only with a dull pulse. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)