I was very disappointed with this book. Really disappointed. Based on the blurb, it sounds like a really good plot. Basically, a boy (Caleb Hart) develops the ability to raise bodies from the dead. During the novel, we also find that he has other cadaver related talents. Other teenagers have various other abilities; astral projection, fire related, empathy related, etc. However, the actual novel was a very poor follow through for the plot.
It basically starts off with a vague explanation of how these abilities and their knowledge of them came to be. A boy (prior to Caleb) was found to have exceptional AFTD (Affinity For The Dead) abilities. He was then kidnapped by the government (something everyone fears since then) and then force to do their bidding. So, anyway, Caleb finds that he has this AFTD. To stop bullies making fun of him, he takes them to a graveyard to show off his new abilities. For some really stupid reason. I don't know why he did it. It was really stupid of him. Basically he was just showing off and then they held his secret over him. Now he's really worried about the government finding out his secret, especially because it's a lot worse than he'd thought; he could actually bring a very
dead body back to life.
It doesn't stop there. Throughout the novel, despite being afraid that the government is going to get him, he keeps on telling people. He tells his parents, he tells his new girlfriend, he tells a police officer, he tells a bunch of complete strangers to him, etc. It's ridiculous. He even then decides to show off his abilities to his parents (his father's idea) by bringing back his long dead great-grandmother (on his mother's side). It's all a pretty stupid thing to do. This is also where those prior mentioned complete strangers (one also being an AFTD) come across him having brought back his dead great grandmother. They fight to get control of her and he ends up needing Tiff's (the other AFTD) help to get the dead body back in the ground. All throughout the book, he (and other people he's told) keep on expressing worry that the government is going to take notice. Yet he keeps on performing these ridiculous feats just to show off. He might not think it's just to show off, but that's certainly what it seems like to me.
Basically, soon after he finds out he's an AFTD, he also gets a new girlfriend. Jade LaClerc. He's been eying her off for a long time. But suddenly she takes notice of him as soon as he becomes interesting to her. It seems kind of tacky. I think their whole relationship is somewhat poorly written. Mind you, the relationships he has with everyone feel forced. With his parents, it seems like the author is trying to be overly cool, but of course he thinks they're lame. With his friends, they're all using various slang and lingo. Much of the time, it just seems like the author is using such poor language just to be offensive because much of the time, they also use a lot of derogatory terms and other offensive comments. It doesn't fit properly with the plot so it all looks out of place. Much of the story is written in Caleb's mind and he thinks a lot of stupid things. Much of the grammar and sentence structure is poor. One would think that being in the future, they would actually teach kids basic grammar. Sadly no. It's tacky and forced. Not to mention, much of the text includes current pop culture references, playing it off as if Caleb is so "old school" and he's better because he actually reads Stephen King (name dropping), has a wind up watch and an old bike (hand me downs). He keeps on trying to make it seem cool, as if he's better than everyone else (even showing off these things to his friends), but it just seems sad.
Going on with that point, the futuristic (not really that far ahead of us in time) aspects are kind of lame and poorly explained. The author first introduces the "Pulse" as if we should all know what they are. It turns out they're just glorified mobile phones that people use a bit like texting. Other pulse related items also have little imagination, being that they're all just basic items we have nowadays, only that they use Pulse technology instead. They basically have television and games connected to the Pulse. They also have the Pulse connected to their house, landline phone (or Pulse, now) and various other things in everyday life. I would have thought that being in the future, there would be much neater things, even though it's not that far ahead in time.
I might go back to that point later. For now, I'll go on about the government stuff. So, basically, he's worried they're after him. He's worried about all the police now in his life. A little bit in the future, he's also going to be going through the AP test where it will be decided what school all these students will go to next. It will also be where these children will be "found out" by the government and what sort of abilities they have (not all of them do). Yet, weirdly enough, the majority of his friends do have abilities, even the bunch he's now gained from the start of the story (which doesn't even make much sense to me, either). So, after doing the test, he's found out as a 2 point AFTD (on a scale from 1-5. Or 6 as they later assume). He'd taken a medication his dad had given him to make sure he didn't test as a full 5, as we all assume he is. The government knows he's a 5, anyway, because they've been keeping an eye on him for a while. Later, he finds out that the government had been sort of tapping his phones and his home. They know he's a high level AFTD because of the information they've gained from this and watching him closely. They end up trying to kidnap him... Because of the awful things said about the government (gossip), we're meant to assume that it's all bad and he'll be made to do bad things with them. They didn't need to try and kidnap him. They could have just had him arrested or maybe "taken him into custody" or something "legal". They're the government and the way the author was making it seem, they could have just turned up anywhere and legally take him. Yet, they try and kidnap him within a large group of teenagers and were planning on taking him away with a helicopter. They didn't need to go to that much effort, even if they were kidnapping him. They could have taken him at any time in the past few weeks- at home, school, shopping, in the graveyard, etc. They could have waited until he was alone. However, for some really unexplainable reason, they decided to wait until he was surrounded by a group of people, other paranormals. It doesn't make sense. Yet, I think for some reason, the author was trying to make it seem cool; the government coming to take him with a helicopter sounds cooler than just trying to gag him and drive him off in a dark van. It was a useless scene.
Much of the novel was useless, though. A lot
of the book is about teenage things. It seems as if the author takes us through a heap of useless things during Caleb's day. We wake up, we get dressed (going through dirty cloths to find the few that smell the least), eat breakfast (he always eats more than his father), we go to school and spend ages in class with him (talking about useless things), having lunch (he hates vegetables and is continually shock that it's all Jade eats), etc, etc, etc. It's really annoying. I'm all for including details in novels, but this was so ridiculous. This was absurd with detail and just went on forever.
It's very condescending, even going so far to explain minor words (that people really ought to already know), yet doesn't explain things more important to the novel (like what Pulses really are, but instead we need to figure it out ourselves). If teenagers are really like this, than this is really sad- not to mention that it will be really sad if teenagers (and adults) become this stupid; that's an awful thought for the future of the human race. The characters are extremely unlikeable to me (trying too hard to be cool, using swearing just because and even showing major bouts of stupidity). The futuristic society doesn't show many decent changes, instead it seems to be a little bit of propoganda. The plot idea was good, but really badly performed. I think the bad performance was predominantly a mix of the bad writing and the author just kept on going with every stupid idea that popped into their head, even if it didn't pan out into anything useful to the plot (oh, I'm going to pretend it's Friday the 13th coming up so they can go to a haunted house... for no reason).
Usually I'm generous with rating books I didn't like. One star is more than generous in this case. I will probably not continue to read this series. I got this as part of a three book pack from Amazon (the first three books in this series) for free. If I had actually paid for it, I would have been really upset. As it is, I'm just pretty disappointed with this book. Really, really disappointed. That's just all my opinion, though.