One moment 12-year-old Walter Prairie is pulling weeds as punishment for fighting in school, and the next he is standing in front of a curmudgeonly counselor who wants to know how he intends to spend his afterlife.
Even though it means four long years of training at the Afterlife Academy, Walter quickly decides that he wants to spend his time as an afterlife agent, defending unsuspecting humans against the forces of darkness and evil. But while waiting for admission, he is pulled from line and told that he possesses unparalleled natural ability. He is immediately assigned and sent on his way with only a short pamphlet for a guide. His assignment is Charlie, an ordinary boy who happens to possess the most dangerous book in history. Together, the two boys must fight school bullies, dodge well-meaning but misguided parents, and overcome a powerful evil that seeks to overthrow all of humankind. Flat dialogue, a predictable plot, and one-dimensional characters are only a few of this supernatural thriller’s problems. Social and familial dramas consistently upstage the paranormal maneuverings, making the story’s only distinctive element feel almost irrelevant. And evil demons seem more wacky than dangerous, undermining any true tension.
The afterlife never seemed so dead. (Fantasy. 8-12)