Book Review: The Ghost Writer by Damon Norko

Title: The Ghost Writer
Author: Damon Norko
Literary fiction/SFF
Date Read:
05/02/2016 – 06/02/2016
Rating: ★★

ghostwritercoverThis book ended up not being what I expected. I probably should have paid more attention to the fact that literary fiction was there alongside the SFF genre categorisation on NetGalley, but it wasn’t just that it wasn’t really my style of book. I found aspects of it confusing and inconsistent, plus the story was quite slow, all of which led to me enjoying it less than I might have.

After dying at age 64, Arnold Showalter becomes the world’s first “literary voice from beyond the grave”. He cannot feel emotions and has to rely on things like diving into volcanoes to get anything close to a thrill, but when he meets Clarisse, a ghost girl who died at age 15, and realises she can feel, he realises that the ghost-life he has been making do with isn’t how it has to be.

Arnold was the type of character you would expect to find in literary fiction, but as I mentioned, literary fiction is not really my thing, so I didn’t really care that much about his kind of crappy life. And even though age is probably not really an issue if you’re dead, I also felt a little bit weird about 64-year-old Arnold becoming as obsessed with 15-year-old Clarisse as he did.

The world-building was what confused me most in this book. Several ghosts seemed to have “jobs” that constituted haunting particular locations during business hours. They signed a contract, and were expected to punch in and out. But then there would be references to Arnold not really having set hours and being able to take off early if he wanted. It also seemed that as ghosts, the post-living could shoot off out of the Earth’s atmosphere, which made me wonder what kept them working. The punishment for breaking the Contract was disintegration, but they could clearly get far enough away that that wouldn’t be an issue. There was also some philosophical stuff at the end about Ghost Winds and this being the next stage of human evolution, but I felt like I missed something earlier in the book leading up to this, so it felt like it came out of nowhere and wasn’t very clear to me.

Overall, I feel like this was a definite case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, but I’m glad it was only short so that I could get all the way through it.

(Thanks to NetGalley and Black Rose Writing for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review)


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