cover image The Ghost and the Goth

The Ghost and the Goth

Stacey Kade, Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4231-2197-8

The sneering heroine of Kade's debut novel, the aptly named Alona, rules her high school's social scene with an iron fist. Alona has secrets, but before readers can discover them, she gets killed ("God, buses are so ugly when you see them that close up"). While Alona is learning to cope with the fact that a ghost can't be the center of attention (and that her friends aren't as genuine as she believed them to be), her narration alternates with that of one of her former classmates, Will, a social outcast fighting a diagnosis of mental illness. Will, in fact, can see and speak with the dead, who overwhelm him with their demands to take care of last requests. Alona is part of the clamoring crowd at first, and by the time she learns to work with Will, it might be too late for him to avoid the mental hospital and make it to graduation. Bumpy initially, the story becomes steadily more engrossing as Kade finds her feet stylistically and her characters' voices and identities develop. Ages 12–up. (July)