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{December 18, 2013}   {ARC Review} Ashes to Ashes by Melissa C. Walker

18052849From Goodreads: If I Stay meets the movie Ghost in this first book in a teen duology about a teenage-girl-turned-ghost who must cling to the echoes of her former life to save the people she left behind.

Ashes to Ashes is author Melissa Walker’s sweeping, romantic, and emotionally rich story about the things that torment and tempt us, even from the Great Beyond. This book is perfect for fans of Die for Me and Imaginary Girls, and its breathtaking ending will leave readers anxiously awaiting the series conclusion, Dust to Dust.

When Callie’s life is cut short by a tragic accident, she expects to find nothingness, or maybe some version of heaven.

Instead, her spirit travels to the Prism, an ethereal plane populated by the ghosts she thought were fictional. Here she meets a striking and mysterious ghost named Thatcher, who is meant to guide her as she learns to haunt and bring peace to the loved ones she left behind.

However, Callie uncovers a dark secret about the spirit world: The angry souls who always populate ghost stories are real, dangerous, and willing to do whatever it takes to stay on Earth, threatening the existence of everyone she ever cared about.

As she fights to save them, Callie will learn that while it may no longer beat, her heart can still love-and break.

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While I had high hopes for this novel, especially with its claim to be a mix of the novel If I Stay and the movie Ghost, I felt like Ashes to Ashes moved much too slowly for me.  Likewise, I didn’t really feel any connections with the characters.  Callie dies before we really get to know her, or her friends, for that matter, and once she’s dead, she behaves very much as you would expect a young child to behave when told they can’t have something.  She throws some tantrums and goes off and does whatever she wants, pushing caution to the wind, over and over again.

In truth, I spent much of the novel highly annoyed with Callie because she continues to make the same stupid mistake while ignoring not only her inner conscious, but also her guide, Thatcher.  The fact that Thatcher continually keeps Callie in the dark, refusing to supply answers or clarification, did little to put him in my good graces, either.  Instead, he only frustrated me because there seems to be a disconnect and readers don’t know why.  And, instead of answers, the same scene plays out many a time, nearly lulling me to sleep: Callie messes up and is really sorry.  Thatcher is angry; he tells her not to do it again without really giving any concrete reasons why.  They make up.  Then, Callie does it again and is really sorry….  By the third time this sequence occurred, I was ready to put the book aside.  I just felt like nothing was truly happening in the novel; I had no connections with anyone, and we rarely saw Callie attempting to comfort anyone still left on earth—the aspect I really wanted to see.

And then? Walker surprised me with her quick and fast ending—one I wasn’t expecting but that, in retrospect, makes sense.  I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t, and this surprise actually brought this novel up a notch in my esteem, clarified a lot of my original issues, and interested me to the point that I actually would like to read the sequel when it comes out.  So in the end, while I did finds it someone trivial and stagnant, Ashes to Ashes did throw me for a loop, and as it only takes one small event to really change a person’s perspective of a novel, I liked it, overall.  Three stars.

3 stars

HarperCollins Publishers has been extremely gracious in giving me an ARC of this novel, during NCTE, in exchange for an honest review prior to its release on December 23, 2013.

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