Stanly's Ghost: Book 3 (The Bitter Sixteen Trilogy) by Stefan Mohamed
|Stanly's Ghost: Book 3 (The Bitter Sixteen Trilogy) by Stefan Mohamed|
|Category: Science Fiction|
|Reviewer: Luke Marlowe|
|Summary: Stefan Mohamed's contemporary super hero tale comes to a rousing climax in Stanly's Ghost. Funny, moving and filled with fast-paced action, it's a truly brilliant read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 560||Date: March 2017|
|Publisher: Salt Publishing|
|External links: Author's website|
Cynical, solitary Stanly Bird used to be a fairly typical teenager – unless you count the fact that his best friend was a talking beagle named Daryl. Then came the superpowers. And the super powered allies. And the mysterious enemies. And the terrifying monsters. And the stunning revelations. And the apocalypse. Now he's not sure what he is. Or where he is. Or how exactly one is supposed to proceed after saving the world. All he knows is that his story isn't finished. Not quite yet …
I've been a big fan of the first two instalments in the Bitter Sixteen trilogy – so much so in fact, that The Bookbag are quoted on the covers of both book 2 and 3 of the trilogy. It has to be said then that I was extremely excited for the final part of the trilogy, but also rather concerned – after such a brilliant sequel in Ace of Spiders, could Stefan Mohamed work his magic into a third book? Well, in short – yes. And brilliantly too. Ace of Spiders ended things on a note that was dark and seemingly rather final, but Stanly's Ghost soon plunges the reader (and Stanly) back into action rapidly, shaking up the status quo in just a few chapters, and setting the stage for a hugely explosive climax to this brilliant trilogy. I had stated that Book Two, Ace of Spiders, was a sequel of Empire Strikes Back proportions, so I was a little troubled that Stanly's Ghost may end up like Return of the Jedi – hugely fun, but just not quite as satisfying as one was hoping. Thankfully, Stefan Mohamed's tight, twisting plot keeps things firmly on track, leading things to a conclusion that makes sense for both the plot and the characters involved, filled with heart, action, and personality.
Characters have been at the heart of this trilogy, and that's truer than ever here – with Stanly and Daryl allowed chances to shine, but Stefan shines a spotlight on newer characters such as Lauren, whilst also allowing familiar characters such as Connor and Sharon ample opportunity to convey the layered, relatable personalities that Mohamed has previously built. The Bitter Sixteen trilogy has contained a fair amount of references to Buffy the Vampire Slayer – and part of the strength of that show was the supporting cast built up around the main character, and the lead character's realisation that their powers were nothing without the support and love of his friends and family. Stanly has gone through a similar journey here, resulting in a supporting cast of characters just as vibrant, well written and important as Stanly, which, all things considered, is fairly remarkable, and also rather unique for a book of this genre. Mohamed's love and knowledge of pop culture shines through here too – rather enjoyable updating the references to reflect the passage of time, and peppering the plot with enough geeky references to entertain, but also not to overwhelm those unfamiliar with them.
The action described in Stanly's Ghost is, much like that described in the previous chapters of the trilogy, ridiculously well depicted. I've previously mentioned that I often find prose books about superheroes a little disappointing – missing the pure kinetic thrill of a good comic, but Mohamed depicts things with so much life, energy and action that it truly isn't an issue here – and picturing the action here is a large part of the pleasure. Plotwise, I'm unwilling to share much for risk of spoilers, but Stefan Mohamed has written another engaging and relatable plot, that manages to keep the lead characters utterly realistic, whilst thrusting them into truly bizarre and astonishing situations. These books have been about growing up, and whilst it is sad to say goodbye to Stanly, his journey has been a rather incredible one that I've been delighted to have been a part of. If you haven't read these books, drop everything, go to your local bookshop, and order them in. I'm not normally one for hyperbole, but I can quite honestly say that Stefan Mohamed has written one of the best Young Adult trilogies out there, and certainly, in my opinion, the best by a British writer. Here's hoping we don't have to wait too much longer for more from this author – you'll find me at the front of the queue!
Many thanks to the publishers for the copy – and of course I would strongly recommend starting with the first part of this trilogy, Bitter Sixteen.
You can read more book reviews or buy Stanly's Ghost: Book 3 (The Bitter Sixteen Trilogy) by Stefan Mohamed at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Stanly's Ghost: Book 3 (The Bitter Sixteen Trilogy) by Stefan Mohamed at Amazon.com.
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If it weren't for your excellent review of Bitter Sixteen, I might never have picked up this underrated series, which would've been an absolute tragedy, as this is easily one of the best YA series out there for anyone who loves their superheroes and pop culture. Ace of Spiders was such a rip-roaring epic that I was anxious about whether the finale could match the hype. From your review though, it's clear that Stefan Mohamed has brought the series home in quite some style. Incredibly excited to pick this one up!