Chinese-Canadian cousins must lay to rest the hungry ghost of an improperly buried ancestor in this debut for teens set in the very near future.
The Lius are cursed: Miranda’s father has never really recovered from an unlucky lightning strike, her brothers are plagued with asthma and encroaching blindness, and her cousins are, respectively, dyslexic to the point of illiterate with a side of ADHD, agoraphobic and anorexic. But narrator Miranda, the normal one (aside from crippling anxiety about any number of things), has a breezy tone even when relaying terrible things, thanks to her boundless self-obsession. After The Grandfather dies, Miranda and Brian (dyslexic) are sent on a journey to recover the bones of The Grandfather’s twin brother, killed a century ago. Due to bad feng shui, he is not at rest, which is the reason for the family’s misfortunes. Conveniently, The Grandfather can take avatar form and appear in a virtual reality, accessible via I-Spex, to guide Miranda and Brian and fight Qianfu’s ghost. Indeed, The Grandfather and convenient technology (the virtual Google Maps–like system includes the ability to see underground, right when Miranda and Brian need to pinpoint the dead body) are the stars of this somewhat belabored and uneven but earnest novel.
Notable for originality but limited by forced writing and shallow characters. (Science fiction. 11-14)