Hurley, an independent filmmaker, debuts with this glittering comedy, a prime exemplar of what might be called demento mori, a growing subgenre of satire about teens who will not or cannot die. Charlotte Usher's plan to catapult herself from the ranks of the invisible to the heights of popularity at Hawthorne High-no possibility for allusion goes unturned-hits a major snag on the first day of school when she chokes to death on a gummy bear. Sent to Deadiquette school along with other teen spirits, she skips out, still determined to woo her longtime heartthrob, never mind that "he doesn't even know I'm alive." The jokes stay sharp, from the goth girl who gives her a "make-under" to throwaway lines (caught breaking some cardinal rules, Charlotte mutters to herself, "I'm dead"). Plotlines raise the stakes, putting Hurley's consistent wit to the service of classic themes about claiming identity. While the author has a built-in fan base from her ghostgirl Web sites, high-impact design will ensure attention from casual browsers as well. An elaborate die-cut with stamped acetate on the cover dares readers to laugh at a silhouette of a cartoon girl in an open casket, an effect heightened by the extra-tall trim size; inside, pink-and-black graphics liberally adorn the margins, epigraphs to chapter openings, etc. And given the polished dark-and-deadpan humor, it's a natural fit with Gen Y, too. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Geeky and invisible, Charlotte Usher seems to have only one purpose in life: Snag her Prince Charming Damen Dylan-even after she's dead. Hurley's novel never bores, offers humorous advice despite the morbid situation, and allows readers to find hope in the most fruitless of endeavors. As they follow the protagonist through her life and afterlife, readers will love the sweet story, surprising plot twists, complex characters and Hurley's innovative writing style. Reviewer: Denzil Sikka, Teen Reviewer
Charlotte Usher is on a mission: Get noticed by Hawthorne High's elite and score a date with heartthrob Damen Dylan. It is a tall order for mousy and-most significant-insignificant Charlotte. Before the end of first period, however, Damen becomes her lab partner and things begin looking up. Then Hurley throws the first of her ironic curve balls: Charlotte pops a Gummi bear, chokes, ends up . . . well . . . dead and Ghostgirl is (ahem) born. Charlotte is promptly introduced to a creepy class of other departed teens known as Dead Ed. Unfortunately she is not quite ready to accept her new status among the nonliving, thank you. Nor is Charlotte about to let a glitch like invisibility get in the way of her objective, hottie Damen. Hurley launches readers into a raucous and satirical tale of Charlotte's social navigation of two teen worlds, those of the living and those of the dead. Screenwriter Hurley's novel is the first in a much-promoted series based on a character she created online in 2002 (http://www.ghostgirl.com). Readers with a taste for black humor and satire will feast on Hurley's crisp, wise dialogue. Although the back story and plot in the nonliving world could be more substantial, it works. Most characters are superficial, but that is part of Hurley's well-executed point. The book's elongated format-black chipboard featuring a coffin-shaped die cut centered on a silhouette of Charlotte-is intriguing. Readers captivated by the packaging will not be disappointed. Anticipate a well deserved cult following. Reviewer: Lauri Vaughan
Gr 7 Up
Charlotte User, an invisible loser, dies just before enacting a plan to catch the cutest guy in school and achieve popularity. She refuses to accept her fate (death by gummy bear) and returns as a ghost with a mission: to go to the Fall Ball with Damen and get a midnight kiss. Hurley combines afterlife antics, gothic gore, and high school hell to produce an original, hilarious satire. Charlotte ambles through death's door and remains a pitiable, selfish, and somewhat annoying heroine. Readers root for her, but cringe at her blunders, too. She blows off her new dead-kid school and classmates, unable to give up her living, breathing crush. Hurley's pitch-perfect dialogue and clever names (Petula, Rotting Rita, Principal Styx) keep readers laughing. Dark, meditative song lyrics and poetry start each chapter while campy, Gothic illustrations frame the pages. Tim Burton and Edgar Allan Poe devotees will die for this fantastic, phantasmal read.-Shelley Huntington, New York Public Library
The only place social-climbing wallflower Charlotte Usher seems destined to go is Loserville until she chokes herself to death on a gummy bear in physics lab and passes from the world of the living to dead. Even there, though, she's dubbed a scrub by her fellow dead classmates. Longing to hook up with still-living crush Damen, she contrives a scheme with Scarlet, the uber-cool goth-vintage-chic sister of Damen's brainless, bombshell girlfriend. The pact: Scarlet agrees to let Charlotte possess her body to pursue Damen, and Scarlet gets to hang with the cool dead kids. Each of Hurley's two lead heroines perfectly mirrors the other: One longs to be seen, one wants to disappear. Hurley attempts to flesh out their world in true Rowling-esque form, with side plots aplenty and a kooky slew of offbeat minor characters with mixed results; check out www.ghostgirl.com to get the full visual effect. Still, she beats out witty teen-speak like a punk-band drummer, keeping the narrative fast-paced and fun yet thought-provokingly heartwarming. Goofy, ghastly, intelligent, electrifying (Novel. YA)