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)

#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 03 February, 2016

First up on today’s post is WWW Wednesday. All you have to do is answer three questions about what you’ve been reading. Then link up with others in the comments on Sam’s post.

  • wwwwednesdayWhat are you currently reading?

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig. This is my first proper ARC from NetGalley, as the few things I’ve had previously have been published prior to me requesting them. This one is released in a few weeks, so I’m hoping that I’ll get it read quickly. It’s a quite inventive time travel story. Heilig said in answer to one of the questions on her GoodReads profile that she had just figured she’d throw it up on Wattpad, but her mum persuaded her to look for an agent. I’m glad she did!

  • What did you recently finish reading?

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris. It was… mostly okay? The idea is that Loki is looking back over his time with the Norse Gods prior to Ragnarok and telling his side of the story. Except he sounded like an immature, 21st century teenager as he told it. And when he says things like “I flipped Odin the bird” I was just like, “… really? Are you being metaphorical or are you saying that gesture existed a thousand or so years ago?”

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I have a couple of things from the library and another NetGalley item still waiting. The Ghost Writer by Damon Norko is quite short so I might read that to make up for the time I lost by taking a whole week to read Gospel of Loki.

Now onto WIPpet Wednesday. For those unfamiliar, WIPpet Wednesday is a weekly blog hop where a group of writers share a snippet from the current WIP (work in progress) that somehow relates to the date. You can join in by clicking the little blue guy to the right and leaving your link there.

wednesdaybannerYou may have to indulge me over the next few weeks as I try to work out what I’m going to do with Worlds Apart. I reached 9.5k with it in its current form and realised I was biting off more than I could chew, mostly in terms of world-building, as well as how much I would need to return to and fact-check. Yes, I had an outline, but an outline does not a fully-fleshed-out-world make. A More Complicated Fairytale has two main characters, perhaps six major side characters and four locations. Also, there’s no magic. A consistent magic system doesn’t get developed overnight, and it’s not something that comes to me easily, but unfortunately, the entire plot of Worlds Apart relies on magic being a thing. Unless I turned into sci-fi, but then that would present its own problems.

So anyway, all this is to say that at least today’s, and possibly future weeks’, WIPpets will basically be bits of scene I’ve scrawled down in the hopes I can use it later. Two of the things I’ve done in an attempt to scale everything down is to modernise the setting, and instead of being a princess, Adelyn just has a wealthy father. Oh, and I swapped the names of Adelyn and another character, Carrie Cortain. So now Carrie is the daughter of the wealthy businessman, and Adelyn is from a slightly rougher part of town.

Goodness me, this has gone on longer than the WIPpet is going to be. Okay, five lines (adding the day plus the month) from my handwritten notebook. So it’s very short. Rougher-part-of-town!Adelyn is waiting at the gates of Carrie’s fancy private school for Carrie to appear. She understandably feels a bit out of place there.

She pulled the cap further down over her eyes and continued to watch. Some of the other students glanced across at her, but she was out of their minds again by the time they passed her.

I’m not even 100% sure that phrasing works. I’m trying to go for an “out of sight, out of mind” thing. Anyway. I promised myself I would do some house cleaning tonight and it is already 8pm, so I should get this post finished and go do that.

~ Emily