Author: Shirley Marr
Publication Date: 4/1/12 (Aus)
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
[Goodreads | Fishpond]
Blurb (GR):If you had a second chance at love, would you do it all over again?
Amy has enough to deal with for one lifetime. A superstitious Chinese mother. A best friend whose mood changes as dramatically as her hair colour. A reputation for being strange. The last thing she needs is to be haunted by someone only she can see.
Logan is a ghost from the Eighties. He could be dangerous. He's certainly annoying.
He might also be Amy's dream boy.
When I found out that Preloved involved ghosts, I immediately wondered what I’d gotten myself into because ghosts and I just don’t get along. If a movie with ghosts is in the theaters and my friends want to go see it, my face starts to have this weird twitch and then my voice raises a few octaves. "Oh that one? Oh, I've heard it is, like, TERRIBLE. Like worse than that Adam Sandler movie where he plays a guy and a girl. Worse than the worst Lifetime movie ever was. No I'm not just saying that because it has ghosts in it!" (that last bit is because they know I am saying it solely because it has ghosts in it.) As it turns out, I will have to carve out an exception in section of my ghost hatred for Preloved. Here's a very scientific chart to explain my interest in literary and/or cinematic ghosts:
Whether or not you are familiar with Marr's debut novel, Fury, doesn't matter one iota going into this book because it reads in an entirely different way. Say Shirley Marr's books are Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fury would be at the serious level of a big fight scene. Preloved is like reading a book about Willow meeting a ghost from the 1980s, if Willow were Chinese with a superstitious mother who ran an antique shop. Amy Lee, the protagonist, is someone who would be the "wacky best friend" or "forgotten girl" in most other stories and television shows. Her best friend is always overshadowing her, she isn't really exceptional in any way, and guys seem to look right through her. On a costume day at school, she finds a locket that makes Amy the only person able to see a boy from the 1980s. The plot follows Amy on her quest to figure out who Logan is and why she is the only person who can see him.
Overall, I liked the campy tone and the numerous pop culture references. I liked being reminded of just how far technology has come in such a short time. And honestly, I don't know if there is such a thing as too many movie references in a book for me, especially when it comes to The Princess Bride and Labyrinth. Another highlight throughout the book was Amy's mother, who peppered the story with her little anecdotes about ways to avoid ghosts or other superstitions. I wish Marr dug deeper into the emotional elements in the story--the moments with Amy and her mother were lovely, but I wish there was more development of their relationship. Preloved moved very quickly, which is fun, but it was to the detriment of the story. Near the end of the book, there is quite a surprise, at least it was surprise to me, and the book takes a more serious turn. I'm not going to say I wish it hadn't done that. It was refreshing to be surprised, even if I felt a bit foolish to not see it earlier, but I still think the resolution was too hurried. All in all, the book could've used about twenty more pages of emotional depth. I have a lot of unanswered questions.
I think readers who enjoy humorous YA will eat this one up. It is a fast read with entertaining characters and I learned a thing or two about Chinese culture. Don't forget to enter to win a copy from us (and Walker Books!) here and visit Shirley on her blog tour stops starting next week. There will be tons of fun information to be had, for sure.