Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Synopsis: If I Stay meets the movie Ghost in this first book in a teen duology about a teenage-girl-turned-ghost who must cling to the echoes of her former life to save the people she left behind.
Ashes to Ashes is author Melissa Walker’s sweeping, romantic, and emotionally rich story about the things that torment and tempt us, even from the Great Beyond. This book is perfect for fans of Die for Meand Imaginary Girls, and its breathtaking ending will leave readers anxiously awaiting the series conclusion, Dust to Dust.
When Callie’s life is cut short by a tragic accident, she expects to find nothingness, or maybe some version of heaven.
Instead, her spirit travels to the Prism, an ethereal plane populated by the ghosts she thought were fictional. Here she meets a striking and mysterious ghost named Thatcher, who is meant to guide her as she learns to haunt and bring peace to the loved ones she left behind.
However, Callie uncovers a dark secret about the spirit world: The angry souls who always populate ghost stories are real, dangerous, and willing to do whatever it takes to stay on Earth, threatening the existence of everyone she ever cared about.
As she fights to save them, Callie will learn that while it may no longer beat, her heart can still love-and break.
Review: Sadly, this book wasn’t for me. I actually liked the concept of the storyline, and I enjoyed Melissa C. Walker’s interpretation of afterlife (views of, or stories of, the afterlife can be a somewhat sensitive subject for some people, but I personally don’t mind stories involving this) and I thought that the storyline was well thought out – but I felt the book was let down by the main character.
This story follows Callie, who dies in a car accident. One minute she has a near-perfect life: the perfect boyfriend, the perfect best friend and the perfect high school experience. But it is all taken away from her after one stupid decision. Callie finds herself in Prism (which is like limbo) where she meets s her ever-so-serious guide Thatcher, and some other spirits. Callie discovers that when one dies, they don’t go to heaven, but instead must spend time in Prism before they can move on to Solus (heaven like space). Her role in Prism is to haunt her loved ones – but this is not a process that involves scaring and spooking those she cares about, but haunting is a way to help them grieve and eventually accept her death.
So, while I thought the premise of the storyline was good, it was Callie that I found intolerable. While some may say that Callie was determined and headstrong, and to a degree I guess they would be right, but I found Callie to be selfish, thoughtless and impulsive. Callie only listened to what she wanted to hear, and was quick to believe things that she wanted to believe, rather than using any common-sense and questioning things that were a direct contradiction to what she was previously told. She often ignored or dismissed things that Thatcher told her, but was very quick to believe things that Reena and Leo said. And even when she herself thought things seemed wrong, she continued to believe, or go along with, things because she wanted to believe what she being told. She was also way too quick to call people “friends” just because they told her what she wanted to hear. Callie also was so determined to talk to those she left behind that she didn’t bother to question things in this realm – like why she, unlike other spirits, possesses so much human emotion and high energy levels. She was so self-involved with her desire to hang on to her human life, that she didn’t consider that it might be best for her loved ones to move on. There were many times that not only did I roll my eyes at this character, but I actually groaned out loud on a few occasions, and on more than one occasion I wanted to slap her.
Now to the romance. Yes, we have a triangle. Callie leaves behind her perfect boyfriend Nick – and as this romance was already established before the commencement of this story, I cannot really judge this relationship. Although we are told on numerous occasions that Nick is funny, caring and basically text-book perfect. I will say however, that the “thing” with Nick was pretty obvious. Then there is Thatcher. It was quite clear from early on that these two would develop feelings for each other, but, I just didn’t believe it. Yes, I was reading it happen, but I just couldn’t understand why. Although Thatcher is a spirit who shouldn’t have human emotions, I could see that he clearly did (I suppose that is due to his situation which you understand the further into the story), but this wasn’t the reason why I wasn’t buying this budding romance. I just didn’t see or understand what they were seeing in each other – why did they start falling for each other, what is it about the other person that they find appealing on an emotional level. And then of course, there is the fact that one minute Callie is love with Nick, and swooning over Thatcher, then she is back in love with Nick again, and then she acknowledges she is falling for Thatcher, then she back in love with Nick again. The girl gave me whiplash with her feelings bouncing between these two boys.
All in all, I liked the secondary characters much more than our female protagonist. Callie’s best friend Carson was a breath of fresh air with her dedication, loyalty and honesty. And I felt for the struggles of Callie’s dad who had lost his only daughter, and for Nick, who was clearly suffering with something more than the standard devastated boyfriend issues. Reena and Leo were strangely interesting, but I felt these characters could have been fleshed out a little more.
I will admit that Callie did get better towards the end, but it was too late for me to connect to her character. She became slightly less egotistical (I say slightly as there was still a big element of selfishness). Although her ability to question things, or work things out for herself, was still fundamentally missing – this was proven in the ending with her unable to work something out (but to me it was blatantly obvious on how to work it out). But, speaking of the ending… that was one aspect that I did like. But it is certainly a turn of events that some readers may not like. But me personally, I liked this little twist, and I liked how it connected a lot of dots together – why Callie is so different, what Thatcher wasn’t telling her and why he hid certain things her. This story also ends in a good spot; where there is a lot of the story line left open for the sequel, but not quite a cliff-hanger.
“No I just have to wake up. I just have to—“ Get out of this freaking dream!“
“The whole world darkens; my body goes limp. And then I’m gone”
“Not be emotional? How can anyone not grieve when they’ve lost everything?”
“I’m in a nightmare, but deep inside, I know it’s not one I’m going to wake from”
“I knew you were a carousel kind of girl”
“—this is the only way I can protect you”