Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings
Review by Ryan Lawler
15-year-old Julie Richardson is about to learn that being the daughter of a witch isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When she and her best friend and uber-geek, Marcus, witness an elderly lady jettisoned out the front door of her home, it’s pretty obvious to Julie there’s a supernatural connection. The house is occupied by a poltergeist and in order to reclaim it, Julie’s going to have to exorcise the spirit. Of course, she’ll need her mother’s help and what teenager in their right mind wants that? Surely she can do this on her own – right? But there’s a whisper of menace behind increasing levels of poltergeist activity all over town. After a large-scale paranormal assault on Julie’s high school, her mother falls victim to Endless Night – a dark spell that rips her mom’s soul from her mortal body. Now it’s a race against time to find out who is responsible or Julie won’t just lose her mother’s soul, she’ll lose her mother’s life.
The YA binge continues with Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings, my third book from the guys at Strange Chemistry. This is another very solid entry that does a lot of things rights and sets up things very effectively for future novels in the series.
Poltergeeks tells the story of Julie Richardson, a strong willed teenage witch who has a habit of picking fights well beyond her capabilities. When a rogue poltergeist put’s Julie’s mother in a coma and continues targeting Julie and her best friend Marcus, it’s up to Julie to track the source of the poltergeist to stop the attacks and save her mom.
As with most YA books I’ve been reading recently, the story here is pretty straightforward – young girl with special powers runs into trouble, the one person who can get her out of trouble is removed from the equation, and she has to grow up fast if she is going to save the people she loves… Oh and also throw in an awkward teenage love triangle, some secret family drama and a predictable ending. That said, Poltergeeks rarely strays into stereotypical territory, and Cummings keeps from indulging in some of the popular YA tropes like the inept authority figure. Things are always kept fun, light hearted, and there are plenty of geek culture Easter eggs to watch out for on the way through.
The characters have been well crafted here, and they aren’t over the top geeks like I have seen recently in a lot of YA stories. Being a geek is just one element of their overall character, and they all have plenty of little nuances and ticks that get revealed over the course of the story. I really liked Julie, she plays the role of a strong female protagonist with a lot of poise, modesty, and some random ingenuity. She is impulsive, she gets the crap beaten out of her by ghosts, she beats the crap out of other ghosts, and she is smiling the whole time while her brain is working overtime trying to figure out and exploit a weakness. Cummings doesn’t make a big deal out of her being a strong teenage girl, he just lets her be who she is and lets the plot mould around her. Marcus provides a great foil for Julie, he is calm, measured, not quite strong enough to fight his own battles but more than assured in his knowledge of how the world should work. These two feed off each other and make for a very proficient team.
Poltergeeks is a fun coming of age story, one that feels like a cross between Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Charmed, and Ghostbusters. It is one of the more fun stories I have read this year, something that I have needed given all the serious fantasy stories I seem to have been reading of late. This is a book that should have no trouble making you smile at least once.
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