Publication Date: July 15, 2014
In How to Date Dead Guys by Ann Noser, Emma Roberts has seen ghosts all of her life and desperately tries not to see them. She is a sophomore in college when she meets Mike, the brother of her roommate’s boyfriend. When Mike and Emma go for a midnight swim and he dies, she turns to her the Book of Shadows, which belongs to her roommate’s sister, in an attempt to bring him back. Things go awry when she brings back the wrong dead person and as Emma delves into the book, her powers grow. Will she find Mike and correct a terrible wrong for which she feels responsible?
The publisher of How to Date Dead Guys, Curiosity Quills Press, gave me an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this novel in exchange for my review. As usual, content may have changed between the copy I received and the date of publication.
Emma starts out as a fairly stereotypical loner. She’s been bullied by classmates, made to feel inferior and inadequate by her mother (her father’s much younger trophy wife). She is generally afraid of making friends because eventually, they will reject her for being strange and unworthy. She rooms with her polar opposite, a girl she tells us her parents would have been happy to call their daughter. The character name called forward the image of the young actress Emma Roberts, and this Emma is a role she could certainly pull off on the big screen. She is petulant and somewhat intellectually elitist even before Mike’s death, but she has a wistful nature that inspires empathy. Emma, in the aftermath of Mike’s death, doesn’t handle herself in the best way, making things worse and her more sensitive to the critical stares of others and she’s conscious of that to an extent.
A funny thing happened on the way to the dead guy; Emma became someone you wanted to win. She brings her first dead guy Sam, back. He’s an aspiring medical student who threw himself into the river. When Emma and Sam involve themselves in the troubles of a fellow student and Emma seems to become less obsessed with the wholly unattractive loser she feels herself to be, she stops being a Disney movie cookie-cutter and becomes more of a real person. Emma has a focus beyond herself and that focus acts as a bit of a photo developer for the other issues in her life.
Many of the characters rely on stereotypes with a little edge of realism. The roommate is the air-headed, style-obsessed, boy-obsessed character. Her sister is a floaty mystic. The dead guys each have their unique story line with one as an out-of-control frat boy and another a boy who was misdirected from the path he felt he was on. Noser infuses each of her characters with a bit of heart to make them familiar to readers and yet stand out from the crowd of the genre.
Ann Noser’s How to Date Dead Guys is something of a diamond in the rough. Noser’s story line is fresh and unique. The way she wraps the story is nothing short of amazing. Noser makes clear to the audience when Emma embarks on her witchcraft experiment that the desire to act is born from the depths of despair and that Emma doesn’t know what will happen so we’ll just find out along with her. Each back from the water character grows her knowledge and her confidence in her powers. Dogging Emma’s footsteps is Officer Walker who isn’t quite sure that the drownings were accidents and is equally unsure that Emma was innocent in those accidents. To be fair, Emma is showing up where she shouldn’t and that, in itself, is suspicious enough for him to keep her on the maybe list.
How to Date Dead Guys has a clear direction in it’s plotting and the author seems to pace what she reveals to both Emma and the audience. It’s a story of a girl becoming what she’s meant to be and embracing her unique talents. Or, for this reader, a story that started with rolling eyes and ended with a true interest in the character and her abilities.
If you have an older teen or like fun novels with a paranormal twist, pick How to Date Dead Guys up today!
How to Date Dead Guys is the first in a planned series. Noser’s next novel in the series is titled How to Ditch Dead Guys.
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