October 2012 release.
Poltergeeks is part of the impressive opening gambit of new YA publisher, Strange Chemistry (an imprint of Angry Robot). They were gracious enough to give me an ARC to review, which I was super excited about having seen the cover and blurb beforehand.
The main character, Julie Richardson, is a regular teen girl. She goes to school, fights with her single mother… and rescues old ladies from Poltergeists. The aforementioned rescue is merely the first in a string of increasingly sinister paranormal activities which Julie feels compelled to investigate against her mother’s wishes – wanting to prove her independence. Unfortunately Julie’s investigations soon land her in trouble and her mother is seriously injured in the process. In the aftermath, Julie finds herself racing the clock in a desperate attempt to find the perpetrator – find a cure for her mother – all while navigating strange paranormal alliances, family secrets, and hardest of all: a budding romance.
Poltergeeks is a lively novel, and the action is fairly constant throughout, helping to set a quick and easy reading pace. There are a few stand out action sequences and I was impressed with the variety of settings used for the fight scenes: a living-room, school bathrooms, a graveyard, a baseball arena. The magic used was also fairly easy to follow, a lot of it based on willpower. Though the twists were not that surprising, I didn’t find that it mattered, especially when taking into account the age of the intended audience.
The teen characters in the novel are written from a very real place, and their motivations and actions are honest to their age – particularly in regards to relationships. Not to give too much away, but some of the family scenes, and certain reactions to romance are immediately bought to mind. And though the budding romance could be a bit clumsy at times, I did find it a refreshing change from the instant, soul-deep love that is being portrayed in a lot of YA (in fact, in a lot of paranormal fiction in general) at the moment.
Unfortunately, despite the ease with which I read Poltergeeks, the narrative voice didn’t really resonate with me. This is one of the huge gambles with fiction – especially first-person perspective – and there’s nothing technical I can pull out of the writing to give a reason for it. Maybe it was a bunch of small things which added up, or maybe I just didn’t connect – sometimes it happens.
However, while I won’t be running out to buy a hard copy of this book for my own shelves, I would definitely consider purchasing it for a YA library collection as I genuinely think some readers will adore it. This book just wasn’t written for me.