cover image Best Nerds Forever

Best Nerds Forever

James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, illus. by Charles Santoso. Little, Brown/Patterson, $13.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-316-50024-1

Thirteen-year-old Finn McAllister is riding his bike a few days before middle school’s end when a speeding black van forces him over a cliff to his death. But the sharp rocks at the bottom aren’t the end for Finn, who remains on Earth as a ghost, offering wry commentary while viewing his family and friends. Instead of moving on to the afterlife, he stays to take care of unfinished business, such as determining who killed him. When he befriends fellow ghost Isabella Rojas, a quiet girl who vanished four months earlier, the two decide to handle their unfinished business together. As Finn dwells upon the “risk-averse, danger-avoiding life” his cautious insurance actuary father encouraged him to lead, he realizes that he regrets missing hijinks with his friends. With this chatty, introspective ghost story, Patterson and Grabenstein (Scaredy Cat) explore concepts such as regret, being ruled by fear, and embracing opportunity. However somber the premise, the creators inject a lively underlying current and a sense of optimism as the new friends make the most of their spectral status and face the unknown future. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. [em](May) [/em]