Book Review: The Ghost Chronicles by Marlo Berliner

Michael is only 18 when he dies in a tragic car accident and, much to his dismay, ends up stuck on earth as a ghost. Eventually ventures away from his grieving family and finds a mentor in a ghost named Tom and love with a ghost named Sarah. But between struggling to let go of his past, being hunted by demons, nearly "joining" souls with Sarah every time they kiss (a forbidden and possibly dangerous thing), and trying to figure out why he's still stuck here and how to move on, Michael's afterlife is turning out to be more difficult than his life was.

Title: The Ghost Chronicles
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 332
My Rating: 3 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


*I received a free ecopy of this book via YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.*

There were some things I liked about this book, but mostly I found it frustrating.

Number one, I don’t feel like I got a complete story. Even though it was not made apparent at the time when I read this that it was the first in a series, I like series and would’ve been fine with that. I’m well aware that series leave threads hanging. But this ended in a really awkward spot with nothing actually resolved. There was kind of a climax, but not one that answered or truly resolved anything. *SPOILER ALERT* Just in case anyone is thinking, “The thing with Matt had a resolution,” yeah, it did, but Matt told Michael himself that more demons would be after him, so the problem of being hunted by demons is still unresolved, regardless of what particular demon is doing the hunting. *END SPOILER* But I also can be ok with that in certain circumstances, except…

Number two, this story took too long to get started. The blurb talks all about Michael falling in love with Sarah and being hunted by demons… except he doesn’t meet her until 40% in, and he doesn’t find out about the demons until even later. Before that (no spoilers), all that happens is that Michael becomes a ghost, hangs around his grieving loved ones, meets another ghost named Tom, and learns a few ghost-y tricks. As it was, I wasn’t bored, but I was just kind of waiting for something to happen. So everything before the 40% mark could’ve been condensed, and the story could’ve continued to a more natural ending without making the book any longer than it is now.

Three, I had a couple issues with the writing. There were a whole bunch of POVs in the beginning, none of which contributed anything (except Michael’s), but thankfully that stopped quickly and it was just Michael’s POV for the rest of the book. There were also way too many emphasized words. Sometimes it seemed like there was one, maybe even two, in every sentence. Not the worst offense, but one that really grated on me by the end.

The last issue I had is one I’m torn about. Michael’s character was well-written and seemed realistic for an 18-year-old boy, and I think his behaviors were purposefully written the way they were because of how other characters reacted, but he still frustrated me. He was stubborn, reckless, and narrow-minded, he didn’t listen or follow the ghost rules, and he felt entitled, like he should get to know everything. I don’t mean to say he had no good qualities though—he also cared a lot about his family, was respectful toward his girlfriends, was driven and curious to learn, and did learn a thing or two about himself. I just mean to say I liked that he was realistic and flawed, but his particular flaws were hard for me to deal with.

Despite all that though, something about this book had me hooked and made me not want to stop reading, especially in the second half. I enjoyed seeing this author’s take on ghosts, the explanation for how they exist, their abilities, etc. And the story, once it got going, was pretty good. It also had me wondering how often ghosts might just be around without me even realizing it, and it’s always fun when books make me wonder those kinds of things.

So overall, my biggest issues were with too many scenes that didn’t seem necessary and an abrupt ending, but the story itself showed promise. If you can forget the blurb and go into this thinking of it as more of the tale of a teenager’s death and how he copes with and becomes accustomed to his afterlife as a ghost, and if you don’t mind an abrupt ending, you may enjoy this more.


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  1. Lola

    I remember this cover of this book, it was in one of your cover posts. I don’t like it when blurbs mention too much about later events. I usually expect a blurb to cover the first 40% and hint at what happens after that. So with the blurb mentioning the demons and falling in love, I would have expected that to happen early on in the story.

    I don’t mind cliffhanger endings, but I do want some sort of resolution at the end of the book or have a few things get resolved usually. It does sound like this one ends in a bit of an awkward place. And it’s always nice to know beforehand if a book is part of a series or not. I feel like you still go into books with different expectations when you think it’s a standalone or first book in a series.

    I can see how those things like too many emphasized words can really grate on your nerves after a while. And I wonder why the author introduces a bunch of POV’s at the beginning, not have them contribute much and the never uses them again later. Then why introduce all those pov’s?

    I recently had a character in a book where I had a similar issue, he acted realistically, but the flaws he had just frustrated me. A character definitely can be written realistically and still not enjoy reading about them. I don’t think I would like to read about this Michael his flaws either.

    I am glad you still enjoyed this one overall and it’s always interesting to see an author their take on the topic and how they explain things like the supernatural/ paranormal. And that’s nice how this one made you think about ghosts. Great review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yep, I did use this one in a cover post šŸ™‚ But yeah, the blurb threw me off. I think the problem was more the book than the blurb though, in this case, because all that beginning stuff just wasn’t necessary, or at least it didn’t need to be so long and elaborated. The romance and demons and all that were the more interesting part.

      Exactly, I’m ok if the story wraps up but then there’s a cliffhanger to make me anticipate the next book. But that just wasn’t what this was. The book cut off mid-conversation just as the guy was about to start explaining something that should’ve been explained in this first one. And I agree, you do go into books with different expectations when you think it’s a standalone or a series. So I was expecting to have all the answers and a resolution.

      I keep seeing that unnecessary POV thing a lot lately. I even wrote a discussion about it that I haven’t posted yet lol.

      It’s tough as a reviewer when you totally respect that the author wrote a realistic character but you still just plain old didn’t like the character.

      Thanks! I did enjoy it more toward the end when things picked up a bit, but I probably won’t continue the series.

  2. Emily Alfano

    I LOVE GHOST STORIES. especially in the YA category! Have you ever read Ghost House by Alex Adornetto? The second book is supposed to come out soon I think!
    Kind of a bummer this one had such a slow start though! Thanks for the honest review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I like reading about ghosts too! Either in YA or adult lol. I haven’t heard of that book, but I’ll look it up, especially if it’s a series šŸ™‚

      Yeah, the slow start was frustrating, but at least it picked up eventually. Thanks for commenting!

  3. AngelErin

    Sorry this one was so frustrating and slow paced for you. Too bad because the blurb makes it sound intriguing. I’ll have to pass though. Great review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, exactly. The love and demon stuff mentioned in the blurb was more interesting, but it took a while to actually get to any of that, and I had expected it to be resolved since I thought it was a standalone :-/ Expectations can really throw things off. Thanks!

  4. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Isn’t it so frustrating when a books summary gives away so much of the story which doesn’t happen until later on? I’d rather it not be revealed and be a surprise instead! And it’s even worse when it feels like the book is leaving you hanging so you’ll read the rest of the series. I mean, I get leaving it open for more but it’s a careful balance that has to be intelligently done so it doesn’t feel like it’s obviously leaving you with so many unanswered questions.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It wasn’t even that it gave away spoilers or anything, I think the parts mentioned in the blurb were the good parts that were the meat of the story, my issue was more that all the beginning didn’t quite seem necessary. And yeah, it is a careful balance with how to end books because I don’t like feeling like I’m being forced to buy the next book. Some unanswered questions are ok, but I want a complete story. If it’s good enough, I’m going to continue the series regardless!