Canadian, Good Books for Boys, YA

Not a Ghost Story: Pluto’s Ghost

Sheree Fitch’s The Gravesavers is one of my all time favourite middle grade reads, so I was more than excited when Pluto’s Ghost arrived at the store. Fitch writes well in a variety of genres, but I think she writes best in MG/YA.

Stephen King once described The Hunger Games as a “violent speed rap of a novel,” which I am going to steal because I think it is also an apt description of Pluto’s Ghost, not because it shares anything with the concept, style, or subject matter of The Hunger Games, but because of it’s snappy, original, often times breathless narration. The story is narrated by Jake, a bad boy in love with a good girl (Skye) who has gone missing. Rumour has it Skye has fled their small, rural Nova Scotian town for Halifax to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Fitch creates an excellent sense of tension by flipping back and forth from the mystery happening in the present, and a series of flashbacks, in which Fitch introduces us to Jake’s past and the love story between him and Skye.

 As a narrator, Jake is a fast-talking, smart-mouthed meanderer. Despite having difficulty with language in school, something that is exasperated by dyslexia, grammar woes, and synesthesia, Jake’s narration is insightful and contains startling images. Jake is an aspiring singer-songwriter, and often includes snippets of songs and lyrics he has been working on. Fitch manages to take all of these factors and create a unique, believable, and captivating narrator. Jake’s narration is the novel’s greatest strength.

The story, despite a number of dark moments, ends hopefully, if not happily. Jake learns that you can’t always get what you want, but you can move on and find happiness. At the end, there is much healing and soul-searching to be done, but the reader feels that Jake will persevere. Fitch is adept and portraying the world as it is; fractured, rocky, but full of light. Teens both male and female will enjoy this novel, which is more than just a love story.

Check out another great review here.

Pluto’s Ghost is available now from Doubleday Canada.

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