Luckily for teen ghost Lucy, she's only been haunting the loos for six months when along comes someone who can actually see her. Okay, so Jeremy isn't the coolest person Lucy's ever met, but she's not exactly spoilt for choice. He's also willing to help her get out of the public toilets and into a ghostly social life.
Things start looking up for Lucy when she meets Ryan, the hottest ghost in town. But Jeremy doesn't think she can just ignore the circumstances of her death and move on that easily. She's got unfinished business, after all...
My So-Called Afterlife is a cute read. In fact, it's super cute. When the opening scene of a book has its fifteen year old main character - who just happens to be a ghost - lamenting the fact that a tramp has peed on her Ugg boots, you know you're in for a whole world of fun. It's the kind of novel that, if you're anything like me, will have you smiling to yourself as you read it.
However, cute isn't all this one has going for it. Take the world-building, for example. In My So-Called Afterlife ghosts are doomed to always look the way they did at the moment of their death. This works out great for Lucy, who was dressed up for a party on the night she died, but not so much for her new friend Hep (two inch roots). Those fortunate enough to have died with their mobile phone on them get to make use of a ghostly network that lets them text each other, and anyone who happened to cross over with a guitar is in high demand at spirit realm parties. The not so fun side of this is that all ghosts are tied to the place of their death, and can only spend a limited time away before being dragged back there in the harshest way possible.
In fact, My So-Called Afterlife is in places an extremely poignant read. The cast of teenage ghosts have, after all, each died in tragic circumstances - Lucy herself was murdered after opting to walk home from a party alone at night. There are plenty of sentimental, weepy books out there about that very subject, but Tamsyn Murray has instead chosen to tell this story through the eyes of a pretty feisty fifteen-year-old who doesn't tend to hang around feeling sorry for herself. The beauty of seeing the situation through Lucy's eyes is that when she is forced to confront the circumstances of her death, it's a real choker.
As well as Lucy herself, this book has a vivid and beguiling cast of secondary characters whose stories are just as engaging as Lucy's own. My favourite was definitely Emo girl Hep (formerly Rosemary), who committed suicide and now haunts her parents' house, frustrated by the fact that they still don't get why she did it. Her story is also told in a matter-of-fact way that speaks volumes to the reader without ever being preachy or melodramatic. There's a really sweet love story here too between Lucy and hottie Ryan, full of laugh-out-loud banter and understated romance. Ever wondered if ghosts can kiss? This book has the answer.
My So-Called Afterlife is a witty, quirky and moving take on teenage life after death. It's YA chick lit with a supernatural twist, and yes, it's a seriously cute one. Go read it!
Out: February 1st 2010, UK