Among the Stars (Ever After Trilogy) by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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Among the Stars (Ever After Trilogy) by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: May, a living girl thrown into the world of the dead and undead wants to get home. I wanted a better sustained sense of humour to add to the inventiveness.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 272 Date: September 2007
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
ISBN: 978-1847380616

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Ten year old May doesn't want to be here. Not at home, in the rural West Virginia part of America, where she is shunned by her school-mates - that looks a lot more peachy than it ever did - but where an encounter with an evil spirit and a lake at night in the first book of this trilogy put her. She now wanders the world of The Ever After - a star many light-years from Earth, inhabited by the dead of the world. A bit odd when she's still alive.

Still, here she is not so alone - she travels with three spirits (mostly with redemptive quests of their own), and a bald cat who just can't make himself understood. Nor are they alone - the Bogeyman, and his even more powerful, mysterious and dark superior are hunting this living specimen. Like I say, she doesn't want to be here. A further mysterious character, that of a Lady, might help her return to life with her mother. Then again...

Forever robed in a black swimsuit and shorts, and sometimes wearing a death shroud so she can pass as one of the dead and not be detected, May's adventures in this middle part of her story will include hitching a lift with poltergeists angry at the bad press they get (and ones with a very silly language, indeed!), and a host of dead surfer dudes, having the time of their deaths at the scenic Hope Falls (with unfortunate resemblances to tombstoning - 'ban this encouraging filth now!' shrieks no-one sensible), the place where all internet pop-ups are formed, and lots more.

The book also adds to the characters I will admit to not having met in part one - the dead Italian parachutist turns out to be an awful poet. Pumpkin is still terribly frightened by most things - poltergeists excepted - and in awe of May. Bea, the female companion, also seeking her mother (they both died of the same disease) is a feisty young thing. Somber (sic) Kitty learns karate. And May? Well, I can't imagine a ten-year old girl in those circumstances behaving any differently.

And for a good part those circumstances are very enjoyable, and benefit from a very nice dry sense of humour. It might look like silly tweenage horror, but there is a drollery here that I enjoyed, and I'm sure if it carries this book will achieve success with its target audience.

Until, somehow, the middle third turned out to be devoid of the wit, and humour. Instead it seemed to pile on the silliness, and by the time the show-tunes became a relevant plot point I was a bit disappointed. Luckily the final third seems to kick in gear, the action becomes more coherent and better defined, and the ending gives no clues at all to how the final third book will pan out.

Please accept that without chasing the first book from my library (duty to the Bookbag means of course I have little time for that!) this review is handicapped, but from what I can gather I think the series should be a mildly interesting one. I have formed an overview, rightly or wrongly, however, that there are some unnecessary bits, and there might only be two very quirky, humorous and charmingly inventive books spread out into three volumes. But coming to this volume alone I found the characters (including several left behind by book one and only cropping up late here) well-formed, but not re-introduced with much clarity, and the whole situation May was in a little unclear. I still don't know quite how evil any person or group of people are in this world of Ever After, nor quite what they are going to do.

For those in the know, this book is recommended - with a few quibbles about how bizarre it gets without rhyme, reason or humour in places; for a stand-alone read it can only get the given three stars.

I would still like to thank the publishers for sending the Bookbag a copy to review.

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