A teenaged boy, killed in a car accident, must come to terms with his existence as a ghost.
Eighteen-year-old Michael seemed to have the perfect life – he was popular, smart, handsome, captain of the basketball team, just accepted to his dream university, loved by his family and his beautiful, intelligent girlfriend – but it was all cut short when a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel. But Michael’s ghost appears to be stuck, unable to move on, and though Tom, an older ghost, offers useful guidance, he can’t help but feel that Tom is holding something back. And when he finds himself pursued by demons, and falling into a forbidden love, he realizes that the afterlife holds even more danger than life did. Can he find a way either to cross over to the other side or find a purpose here?
THE GHOST CHRONICLES is a clever and thoughtful look at the possibilities for an Earthbound afterlife. Berliner beautifully captures the frustration and grief of life lost too soon, as well as the delights of young love and the discovery of new possibilities. Michael’s development from anger to a mature willingness to serve the cause of good is heartwarming. However, some of the ghosts representing the “good” side are rather too overbearing to be really sympathetic. The Elders to whom Tom takes Michael for guidance, for example, do not even condescend to introduce themselves and permit him no questions or even informed consent, demanding that “all souls who hear the Covenant shall be bound by the Covenant.” The book also includes some rather worn and stereotyped tropes, like the peaceful alien appalled by violent humanity. While the ghosts of Babe Ruth and Al Capone, for example, ring true, Lincoln’s seems more Memorial statue than the folksy, charming person he was, spouting noble platitudes with not one funny story. The resolution leaves plenty of room for the promised sequel.
THE GHOST CHRONICLES is a promising beginning to a new series, which manages to be emotionally moving while also asking some thought-provoking moral and ethical questions.