Whisper (Riley Bloom Series #4)

Whisper (Riley Bloom Series #4)

by Alyson Noël

Paperback(First Edition)

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In Alyson Noël's Whisper, Riley Bloom might really have bitten off more than she's ready for. After practically begging the Council for a more challenging Soul Catch, she is assigned an actual Roman gladiator—Theocoles, the Pillar of Doom. How is Riley, a skinny twelve-year-old, supposed to get through to him? Then she meets the beautiful Messalina, who convinces her that her only chance is to become part of this world. To accomplish this, Messalina helps Riley through a dramatic, mystical makeover, transforming her into the beautiful and mature teen she's always wanted to be. Finally, Riley can experience her first boyfriend and her first kiss. With a dream this enchanting, will she ever want to leave?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312641566
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 04/24/2012
Series: Riley Bloom Series , #4
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 256,048
Product dimensions: 5.56(w) x 8.04(h) x 0.68(d)
Lexile: 1070L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Alyson Noël is the #1 New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of Faking 19, Art Geeks and Prom Queens, Laguna Cove, Fly Me to the Moon, Kiss & Blog, Saving Zoë, Cruel Summer, and the Immortals series including Evermore, Blue Moon, Shadowland, Dark Flame, and Night Star, as well as the Immortals spin-off series beginning with Radiance. With over 2 million copies in print in the US alone, her books have been published in 35 countries and have won awards including the National Reader's Choice Award, NYLA Book of Winter Award, NYPL Stuff for the Teenage, TeenReads Best Books of 2007, and Reviewer's Choice 2007 Top Ten, and have been chosen for the CBS Early Show's "Give the Gift of Reading" segment, and selected for Seventeen Magazine's "Hot List" and Beach Book Club Pick. She lives in Laguna Beach, California.

Read an Excerpt



The first thought that popped into my head when we entered the Roman city limits was: Hunh?

I squinted into the wind, droopy blond hair streaming behind me, feeling more than a little deflated as I soared over a landscape that was pretty much exactly the same as all the others before it.

My guide Bodhi, my dog Buttercup, and I had flown a great distance to get there, and even though flying was hands down our favorite way to travel, there was no denying how after a while the scenery tended to get a bit dull—fading into a continuous blur of clouds, and nature, and man-made things, all piled up in a row. And though I'd grown used to it, I guess I still hoped that Rome would be different, but from where we hovered, it all looked the same.

Bodhi turned to me, his green eyes taking note of my disappointed face. He shot me a quick grin and said, "Follow me."

He thrust his arms before him and somersaulted into a major free fall as Buttercup and I did the same. And the faster we spun toward the earth, the more the landscape below came to life—blooming with such vibrant color and detail, I couldn't help but squeal in delight.

Rome wasn't boring. It was more like the opposite—a city chock-full of visual contradictions practically everywhere you looked. Consisting of a maze of crazily curving, traffic-choked streets that curled and swooped around newly renovated buildings and crumbling old ones—all of it looming over dusty old ruins dating back thousands of years—reminders of a long-ago history that refused to go quietly.

Bodhi slowed, his hair flopping into his face when he nodded toward the ruin just below him and said, "There it is. What do you think?"

Buttercup barked with excitement, wagging his tail in a way that made him spin sideways, as I gawked at the massive old amphitheater, marveling at its size, and finding myself suddenly sideswiped by doubt.

I mean, yes, I'm the one who'd practically begged the Council for a more challenging Soul Catch—I wanted to glow brighter, wanted to turn thirteen more than anything else in the world, and I wrongly believed that excelling at my job was the one and only way to speed that along. But the longer I gazed upon that massive stone structure withits arching columns and sturdy old walls—the more I took in its sheer size and scope—the more I thought about the activities it was known for: barbaric cruelty and slaughter, blood-soaked battles fought to the death—well, I couldn't help but wonder if I'd maybe been a little too ambitious, if I might've overreached.

Not wanting to let on to my sudden fit of cowardice, I gulped hard and said, "Wow, that's um ... that's a whole lot bigger than I thought it would be."

Continuing to hover, my eagerness to land all but forgotten until Bodhi yanked hard on my sleeve and got us all moving again. But instead of leading us to the middle of the arena, he landed on the balcony of a very fancy restaurant, its all-white décor serving as the perfect backdrop to what may be one of the earth plane's most spectacular views.

He perched on the balcony's gray iron railing, gazing down at the landscape that loomed several stories below, while I sat alongside him, hoisting a not-so-cooperative Buttercup awkwardly onto my lap, his legs flopping over either side, as I said, "Do we have a dinner reservation I don't know about?" Knowing the joke was a dumb one, but I couldn't help it, nerves made me jokey.

Bodhi gave the place a once-over, taking in the spacious terrace filled with well-dressed diners enjoying elegant candlelit dinners and a sunset-drenched view that bathedthe Colosseum in a glow of orange and pink—all of them blissfully unaware of the three ghosts sitting among them.

Then returning to me he got down to business and said, "Okay, here's the deal, this ghost you're supposed to deal with—his name is Theocoles. No last name that I know of. And, please, do yourself a favor and call him by his full name. No shortcuts, no Theo, or T, or Big T, or—"

"I got it, Theocoles," I snapped, thinking it was certainly a mouthful but it's not like it mattered, his name was pretty much the least of my concerns at that point. "What else?" I stared straight ahead, hoping to appear confident despite the way my fingers were twisting in Buttercup's pale yellow fur.

Bodhi squinted through his heavy fringe of thick lashes, his voice low and deep as he said, "According to the Council, he's been haunting the Colosseum for a very long time." I turned to Bodhi, arching my brow, in need of a little more detail, watching as he shrugged, pulled a dented green straw from his pocket and shoved it into his mouth, where he proceeded to gnaw on it. A habit meant either to calm his nerves or help him think, I could never be sure. "This guy is intense," he continued. "He truly is a lost soul. He's so completely immersed in his world, he has no concept of anything outside of it, or just how many years have passed since his death, which, by the way, number into the thousands."

I nodded, giving Buttercup one last scratch on the head before allowing him to leap from my lap to the ground so he could go sniff all the diners and beg for table scraps—clueless to the fact that they couldn't see him.

"Sounds like business as usual," I replied, with a little more bravado than I felt. While the Colosseum was certainly intimidating, nothing Bodhi had said sounded like all that big a deal. "Pretty much all the ghosts I've dealt with were intense," I continued. "And yet I was still able to reach them, still able to convince them to cross the bridge and move on, so I'm pretty sure I can convince this Theocoles dude to cross over too. Easy-peasy." I nodded hard to confirm it, turning just in time to catch the wince in Bodhi's gaze.

"There's something more you need to know," he said, his voice quiet and low. "Theocoles was the champion gladiator back in his day. Feared by all—defeated by none."

"Did you say ... gladiator?" I gaped, thinking surely I'd misunderstood.

Bodhi nodded, quick to add, "They called him the Pillar of Doom."

I blinked, tried to keep from laughing, but it was no use. I know the name was supposed to sound scary, but to me it sounded like some silly cartoon.

My laughter faded the second Bodhi shot me a concerned look and said, "He was a champion gladiator. A real primuspalus, that's what they called them, which, just so you know, translates to top of the pole. Widely considered to be the toughest, scariest, strongest, most fearless creature in the bunch. This is nothing to laugh about Riley; I'm afraid you've got some serious work cut out for you. But then again, you did beg for a challenge."

My shoulders slumped as I buried my face in my hands, my short burst of confidence dying the moment the reality of my situation sank in.

I mean, seriously—a gladiator? That's the challenge the Council saw fit to assign me?

It had to be a trick, or maybe even some kind of joke.

It had to be the Council's way of getting back at me for always ignoring their rules in favor of making my own.

How could I—a skinny, scrawny, semi-stubby-nosed, flat-chested, twelve-year-old girl—how could I possibly take on a big, strong, raging hulk of a guy who'd spent the better part of his life chopping his competition into small, bloody bits?

Just because I was dead—just because he couldn't technically harm me—didn't mean I wasn't quaking with fear. Because I was—I really, truly was. And I'm not afraid to admit it.

"I know it seems like a lot to ask of a fairly new Soul Catcher such as yourself," Bodhi said. "But not to worry, theCouncil only assigns what they know you can handle. The fact that you're here means they believe in you, so it's time you try to believe in you too. You have to at least try, Riley. What is it Mahatma Gandhi once said?" He looked at me, pausing as though he actually expected me to provide the answer, and when I didn't he said, "Full effort is full victory." He paused again, allowing the words to sink in. "All you can do is give it your best shot. That's all anyone can ever ask of you."

I sighed and looked away. Believing in myself was not something I was used to struggling with—if anything I bordered on dangerously overconfident. Then again, the situation I faced wasn't the least bit normal, or usual for that matter. And even though I knew I'd asked, if not begged for it, I still couldn't help but resent the Council just the tiniest bit for indulging me.

"And what about those other Soul Catchers?" I asked. "The ones who were sent before me and failed? I'm assuming the Council believed in them too, no?"

Bodhi chewed his straw, ran a nervous hand through his hair, and said, "Turns out, it didn't end so well for them ..."

I squinted, waiting for more.

"They got lost. Sucked so deep into his world that they ..." He paused, scratched his stubble-lined chin, and took his sweet time to clear his throat before he said, "Well, let's just say they never made it back."

I stared, my mouth hanging open, empty of words.

I was outmatched. There was no getting around it. But at least I wouldn't have to go it alone. At least I had Bodhi and Buttercup to serve as my backup.

"But please know that Buttercup and I will be right here if you need us. We're not leaving without you, I promise you that."

I looked at him, my eyes practically popped from their sockets, my voice betraying the full extent of my hysteria when I said, "You expect me to go in alone?" I shook my head, unable to believe how quickly things had gone from very, very bad to impossibly worse. "I thought that as my guide it was your job, not to mention your duty, to guide me. And what about Buttercup? Are you seriously telling me that I can't even bring my own dog to protect me?"

I turned, gaze sweeping the restaurant until I'd zeroed in on my sweet yellow Lab all crouched under a table, chewing on a shiny gold stiletto a diner had slipped off her foot. Reminding myself that historically speaking, he'd never proved to be all that great of a backup, when push came to shove he was actually more scaredy-cat than menacing guard dog—but still, he was loving, and loyal (well, for the most part), and surely that was better than going alone.

Bodhi looked at me, his voice full of sympathy when hesaid, "Sorry, Riley, but the Council made it crystal clear that this was your Soul Catch. Yours and yours alone. They asked me to stay out of it, to supervise only, and leave you to work it out on your own. But we'll try to throw you a lifeline if you need it—or should I say soul-line? And while I thought about letting you bring Buttercup along, for the company if nothing else, the thing is, thousands of wild animals died in that arena, and some of them are still lurking in ghost form. Being chased by a lion or bear could be pretty terrifying for him since he doesn't really get that he's dead."

I squinted into the dying light, gazing at the long, rectangular space filled with rows of narrow, crumbling, roofless structures all sprawled out below us—yet another ancient ruin. From what I'd seen, Rome had no shortage of them.

"It'll be dark soon," Bodhi said, voice softly nudging. "The sooner you get started, the better—and you might want to start there." He gestured toward the ruin I'd been looking at. "It's an ancient ludus—the Ludus Magnus—known as one of the biggest, most important gladiator schools in Rome's history. Could be a good place to begin, get your bearings, get a feel for the place ... you know, before you hit the arena."

The arena.

I gulped, nodded, tried not to think about my fellowSoul Catchers who never made it back. I mean, if the Council thinks I can handle it, well, who knows, maybe I can. Maybe they know something I don't.

I pushed my bangs from my face, took one last look at my dog still gnawing that shoe, then pushed off the ledge. Hoping more than anything that the Council was right, that I really was capable of more than I thought.

But already betting against it as I made my way down.

An Imprint of Macmillan

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Whisper 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have a Nook Color, and it lets me highlight anything in the book, so while I read the book I highlighted all of the proof I could find that Bodhi and Riley have chemistry. You can tell the author is trying to hint a budding romance between Riley and Bodhi, and he is totally jealous of Dacian, her new boyfriend! He even told Riley she was beautiful! Does anyone know if there is going to be a following book to this one, what it will be called, and when it will be out? Thanks!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series is just as great as the Immortals series (: !!! (but shorter ): ) It was better than I expected from reading the summary. Alyson Noel did an amazing job describing the ludus. I can't wait to read more about !Dacian! and !Riley! in the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is her boyfriend the Roman boy, or Bohdi? ... TEAM BOHDI!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good! Im zo happy about dacian
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why can't this come out sooner? I can't wait to read it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Does anyone know if there will be another book to the series? I don't want the series to end!
Tokyo More than 1 year ago
I started this at 9 last night and finished it all of five hours (spaced out between sleeping and my college class) i love Alyson Noels books. starting with the Immortal Series, Riley Bloom Series, and continuing with the Soul Seekers Series. Love her books!! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
she cant just leave us hanging like that! She should make one last book or like two more so it shows her life till shes fifteen or if something tragic happens and her sister joins here and now! And i think tht would be a goood fourth book is tht she tries to free a ghost and it turns out to be a family member or one of Rileys close friends from earth. And the last one should end with Ever coming to Here & Now but ever would be like 30 or 20
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVE THIS AUTHOR! She is great, l'm only 12 and have read almost all her books. This book i have to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished it.....love how riley turns out to be in rome! Hope to find more books like this one! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hope there will be another book. I know its dumb to hope there will be but i just love the books so much i just want to keep hearing more amd more about how riley will grow up. Plus they are wonderful books i love reading them. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So cool! It is totally a must read book!
Bookswithbite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is another series that I have been following since the beginning. I really each new adventure that Riley goes on. This times she flashes way back to the time of the coliseum.What I loved most about this book is Riley's own self-discovery. For the past few books. Riley has dealt with issues within herself. I really enjoyed that Riley got honest with herself and came into who she is meant to be. I like her new adventure into the past. Ms. Noel captured the coliseum times well. I enjoyed the descriptions, the people, even the fights. I enjoyed the Riley growth in her own character as she tries to save another soul.The love interest isn't where I wanted it to be but I am hoping that Riley will have her day. Riley has changed so much since the fist book and I am crossing my fingers a certain someone sees it.Whisper is an enchanting story that captures the reader right away. Filled with adventure that blast you into the past, the coliseum times rock. Whisper is an great story!
MaryinHB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
MY THOUGHTSABSOLUTELY LOVED ITRiley Bloom is still in the Here and Now and on a new journey to help a soul move on. In this latest installment, Riley's inner most desire almost comes true. After she dies at age twelve, she thinks she will never, ever become a teenager and reach the magical age of thirteen. After Bodhi, leads her to her next challenge, he leaves her and tells her this will be her most challenging case yet. She travels back to ancient Rome in order to help a gladiator named Theocoles move over the bridge. When she is befriended by Messalina, whose uncle owns the gladiator school where Theocoles trains, she finds her innermost wishes suddenly being fulfilled. She now looks like a teenager and actually has her first kiss! There the story takes a strange turn and Messalina forces her to relive the day that Theocoles is killed again and again. It is a wonder that Riley can escape the madness that Messalina has created. The word whisper plays an important role in this story, where Riley again outwits the souls she is entrusted to help cross over. The world of ancient Rome is seductively described by Noel and you really feel like you are in the Coliseum cheering on the gladiators. I am so glad I just read that this series will continue for another book. I so enjoy Riley's adventures. This is safe for the youngest of teens and is a series that even the most reluctant of readers will get into. I know since I have recommend this series to several kids who say they hate to read but ask me when the next book will be out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is THE BOOK i've been looking for in the series. I wish I had the same ending she had, I mean forget being12 and half when I can just skip to 13 and half and get my self a cute Soul Catcher from my fantasy that a girl supposedly that was my friend like sister trapped me in just she could have the glorly of awakening Theocoles. Hmph, if she thinks she can get away with everything cause shes got the looks then justin beiber can get away with drag racing cause he can he can sing.(which isnt true: both the fact he can sing and he can get away with it.)Anyways, off topic this book shows Riley finally understanding that she needs to not rush life or its message and to stop reaching towards the fantasy of her goal but the reality. The odds are ever in her favor (I indeed am a Hunger Games fan) if she continues on the path she goes and she'll have her unreachable fantasy in a short three Here&Now years. Then she'll dump Dacian for Bodhi and they can live happily ever after.Oh and Bodhi will dump Jasmine, Jasmine and Dacian will be together that's what I call a happy ending.Excuse me for being so fast to turn on Dacian but she needs to see that, that Green-eyed brown-haired, Justin beiber tatic using Bodhi is the one. So read this adventure like,now!!! Start with Radiance though. Thanks for reading!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey if you guys like it so much you should read the series where the book came from, the immortal series. Its about rileys older sister Ever and her adventures and yes i read the series and i loved it... actually it made me want to read this series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tell me all about the book if u have read it above thanx
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book I couldn't put it down read it in two days absolutly worth reading this series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tell me is there more books in serie???tell me must know Only read sample tell me about this
Anonymous More than 1 year ago