Title: Invisible Ghosts
Author: Robyn Schneider
Pub. Date: June 5. 2018
Rose Asher believes in ghosts. She should, since she has one for a best friend: Logan, her annoying, Netflix-addicted brother, who is forever stuck at fifteen. But Rose is growing up, and when an old friend moves back to Laguna Canyon and appears in her drama class, things get complicated.
Jamie Aldridge is charming, confident, and a painful reminder of the life Rose has been missing out on since her brother’s death. She watches as Jamie easily rejoins their former friends—a group of magnificently silly theater nerds—while avoiding her so intensely that it must be deliberate.
Yet when the two of them unexpectedly cross paths, Rose learns that Jamie has a secret of his own, one that changes everything. Rose finds herself drawn back into her old life—and to Jamie. But she quickly starts to suspect that he isn’t telling her the whole truth.
All Rose knows is that it’s becoming harder to choose between the boy who makes her feel alive and the brother she isn’t ready to lose.
I’m going to start this post off with a little appreciation post for Robyn Schneider’s other two YA contemporaries – The Beginning of Everything and Extraordinary Means.
Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: In one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.
No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met—achingly effortless and fiercely intelligent.
Together, Ezra and Cassidy discover flash mobs, buried treasure, and a poodle that might just be the reincarnation of Jay Gatsby. But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: If one’s singular tragedy has already hit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?
I’m SUPER picky when it comes to contemporary reads, especially YA contemps. I often find that I can’t relate to the characters, and overall my preference lies with SFF. There are some authors who are automatic buys when it comes to YA contemp. novels, and Robyn Schneider is one of those authors. Back in 2013, when The Beginning of Everything first hit shelves, I remember seeing it in my local Barnes and Nobles. It was bright yellow, bright orange, and bright blue, and the cover just spoke to me. I don’t remember if I even read the synopsis (I probably did) but I bought it.
Remember how I said I’m picky with my YA contemps? Well, I read this, and fell in love. It wasn’t a typical YA, the characters never fully acted in the ways I expected them to, and I loved everything about the novel.
Now, fast forward 2 years. It’s the end of February or March, and I’m at the first ever Apollycon hosted by Jennifer L. Armentrout, and in the swag bag of book and bookish goodies we received there is an ARC of Robyn’s next book, Extraordinary Means. I had no – absolutely no idea that she was writing a new book, so I freaked out, and went to read it instantly.
At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.
There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.
But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down. Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.
This book was perfect. Once again Robyn had managed to tell this darker story, but the humor she wove into it felt so natural and so right. All her characters feel so realistic in the way they act and communicate with each other. They feel like teenagers that you’d go to school with.
I’ve never experienced the tragic backstories that most of her characters tend to have, and my high schools days were pretty ordinary, but her characters always felt like true teenagers, and not some of the idealized or romanticized ones that I tend to find in YA contemps. They feel like lighter contemps, but the messages that they carry are deeper. And overall, I just absolutely love the stories she tells.
Now onto the review for Invisible Ghosts – I managed to get my hands on an ARC of this book, and my review will be completely honest. Like in all of my reviews, the first part will be spoiler free, followed by a section that will contain spoilers.
I may have freaked out when I found out that Robyn Schneider was working on a new book, that ARCs would soon be available and that the title would be Invisible Ghosts.
From the point forward, I entered any giveaway for this book that I could find, because I desperately wanted a chance to read it early ^ see first part of this post.
Then the book arrived in the mail – thanks to #booksfortrade on Twitter – and I freaked out all over again.
Invisible Ghosts follows Rose Asher who can see dead people – namely her dead brother Logan, who is Netflix obsessed (aren’t we all). Not taking the situation for granted she spends most of her free time watching shows with her brother who is forever stuck at fifteen.
That is until her old bff Jamie Aldridge moves back to town, and suddenly Rose’s life starts changing, as Jamie’s charismatic, charming and confident personality fills Rose with life.
But what would your reaction be if the only person you could talk to started hanging out with someone else? Logan is stuck forever at fifteen, and reacts badly to losing his sister.
The writing, pace and message of this book are perfect.
I was listening to Robyn’s Instagram Story the other day, and she said that the reason it takes so long for her to write books is because every day she sits down to write, she edits (from the beginning) everything she has written so far, before starting new words. When I initially heard this my mouth dropped, and I was convinced that doing that was counter productive. But you know what, I’ll eat my words.
The time and dedication is so clearly evident in this novel. I didn’t feel like there was excess information, or unnecessary information – every word, line, phrase, sentence all had a purpose and a reason, and it made the story so utterly wonderful to read.
Okay, I feel like I’m laying it on a little thick, but I honestly loved this book. It was like a breath of fresh air. I’ve read a few books in the month of February and while some have been good, and made me happy and excited, this was the first book to make me actually feel. By the end of the book, I had tears coming out of my eyes. This is easily my favorite novel of her’s and I can definitely see myself re-reading this again and again.
Let’s briefly talk about Rose and Jamie. I loved the two of them. I loved how we got to see Rose grow, and change and become someone who chose to blend into the crowd decide that blending in wasn’t worth it. I loved how we saw Jamie as that catalyst, that final push for Rose to “bloom” – yes, I went there.
Rose was already examining her spot in the high school hierarchy, and wasn’t thrilled with it, but continued to settle. God, we’ve all been there, friends with people just so we weren’t alone. Hell, I did that in High School, even in Middle School – I was the new kid, everyone else had been friends since kindergarten, so I sat with the first people who let me sit with them. It wasn’t until later that I found my group of friends.
Granted, Rose’s case is different, but the sentiments and reasonings are still the same. It’s awful being alone in high school, it actually sucks. You get in your head, and you think everyone is staring and/or talking about you – it sucks. And then there is always this one Queen Bee, who has a bunch of little minions, or followers only so that they can look up upon her and she can look down and berate you. No one is perfect in high school – no matter what they might think – you can only hope that they grow out of it.
I felt like Rose and Jamie progressed as a couple really quickly, and I had to keep reminding myself that they didn’t just meet; that they had been close friends as children and already had a history. So while their relationship was cute and all, it felt a little like insta-love, but they are also teenagers, and teenagers tend to fall in love so fast and so hard and so often, that it wasn’t entirely annoying. I said it in a previous post, I’m iffy on insta-love in books, but it depends on the book.
As for Logan, I really liked Logan. He’s stuck forever at 15 – I wasn’t expecting a lot of emotional maturity from him. I did feel like he was pretty selfish, and not entirely unaware of how he was behaving – he wasn’t stupid, he had brains, so I assumed that he knew he was behaving poorly towards his sister…but again, 15 year old boy.
I definitely recommend reading this book when it comes out. It’s such an amazing story, and I think’s it very relatable. We can’t let the ghosts (literal or otherwise) hold us back from living our lives and doing what we love, otherwise we might just be stuck on the sofa watching Netflix all day. (Not that that’s a bad thing.)
Now onto the spoiler part.
Let’s start with Rose –
Rose Asher can see her dead brother Logan, and since his death, which she places part of the blame on herself, she’s secluded herself off, spending her afternoons sitting on the couch watching shows on Netflix with Logan.
At schools she’s “friends” with a group of girls.
“At lunch, I sat with the same group of girls who’d adopted me out of pity back in middle school. I guessed, we were friends, but it didn’t really matter what we were, because lunch tables are just another version of assigned seating.” (pg.5)
“Some friend groups are defined by a sport everyone plays, or an extracurricular everyone joins, but we were defined by Delia Kelly. We were her subordinates, the adjectives to her nouns.” (pg.5)
I use the term “friends” loosely.
After her brother’s death she gravitated away from her friends, and was picked up by Queen Bitch and co. It’s pretty clear that Rose doesn’t really fit the mold of subordinate, and wants more.
She bikes to and from school everyday, and everyday she has to pass the spot where her brother died. I thought that it was interesting that she only half blamed herself for her brother’s death. I thought it was really mature of her to acknowledge that he was also at fault, old enough to remember that with a deadly life threatening allergy he should have never left the house without his EpiPen. But she held herself accountable for some of the blame because they had an argument and she left the house, which meant that he had to then come after her.
To me, Rose felt like a real high school teenage girl, though maybe she knew who she was a little more than I knew who I was at 16. Or maybe it’s because she lost her brother that this filter was removed from her vision, and she could see people for who they were. Rose didn’t seem to romanticize high school. She knew that she was missing out, that it was her fault for pulling away, that if she had tried harder instead of building walls, she wouldn’t be stuck at a lunch table trying to appease Delia Kelly.
Enter Jamie Aldridge.
The King Tut to her Cleopatra…and then the Antony to her Cleopatra.
I loved that they had a history before Junior year of high school. I loved that Jamie, who is open, charismatic, charming, funny, and able to make Rose laugh, is the catalyst she needs to break free of the cage she’d built around herself. And then to find out that Jamie can see ghosts too. Now, I thought that was a twist – well I mean, I figured someone else would have to be able to see them…So maybe the twist is that he can exorcise them/put them at peace. Regardless I like Jamie.
I loved that he called her Cleo, and that he gave her the strength to be herself. I didn’t really feel like Jamie had much of a role, except give Rose that final push to change her life. I think without Jamie it would have taken a little longer for Rose to realize that she couldn’t spend every day on the couch watching Netflix with Logan – Jamie just expedited the process.
But I also feel like that line of thought is unfair to Jamie, because while everything *seems* to be easy for him, I don’t think it was. I think that if this book had been told from alternating view points, we would have seen Jamie suffering. The way I read it, Jamie really cared for Rose, had for a very long time, and to see her suffering quietly, I think it hurt him.
Great. Now I want a version of this book from Jamie’s perspective.
I loved how natural the two of them felt together. Their cute banter, and teasing – it made me feel warm and fuzzy. The way they interacted with their friends – can I copy and paste myself into that group of friends? Please? It was just so fun and refreshing and the ease at which they were all comfortable with each other. It felt so natural, and I loved how they treated Rose as if she had never left. They just opened their arms, and accepted her back into the fold.
Now I know that this is a YA contemp with ghosts. But I kind of wish that Logan had gone just a little bit more poltergeist, and then came around to having to go. And I also wish that there had been a way for the parents to say goodbye, but at the same time, the parents seemed to have moved on for the most part, and seeing the ghost form of their dead son would have raised so many red flags.
I wish Logan had gone a little more rage filled – I don’t know why. I think it would have added a creepier element?
Though I did love how the book ended, it made me cry. I actually had tears running down my face for the last handful or so pages.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book. I want to wipe it all from my mind, so I can experience it all over again. It’s been a while since I just thoroughly loved a book so much that I just want to sit and start it all over again. I hoped that this book would be as good as her previous two contemps, and it didn’t disappoint.
The last two paragraphs of this book sums up life so perfectly, and since it’s such a huge spoiler, I won’t share it here, even in the spoiler section. But it’s good advice that everyone should try to follow.
Invisible Ghosts is out June 5, 2018. You should pre-order this book, and sit down and read it the moment you get it into your hands. 10/10 would recommend.