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My God - It’s Full of Stars!

Check out award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick's The Ghosts of Heaven - AND CUE "THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA"

My God - It’s Full of Stars!

BOOK REPORT for The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

Cover Story: Very Vertigo
BFF Charm: Let Me Love (all of) You
Swoonworthy Scale: - 5
Talky Talk: He Said/She Said/He Said/She Said
Bonus Factors: Feelz
Anti-Bonus Factor: I’m Sorry, Dave, I’m Afraid I Can’t Do That
Relationship Status: Coffee Shop Date

Cover Story: Very Vertigo

This cover is nice - the colors are neat, it’s definitely got a great sci-fi vibe; while it might get a tiny bit literal in its depiction of a spiral staircase that may or may not (spoiler: it does) make an important appearance in the text, I think it’s fine.

Except, full disclosure, it makes me a little dizzy.

The Deal:

Here is another book I can say is definitely unlike most books I’ve ever read - which is pretty cool, because hey, it’s an ever-expanding bookiverse, man. Open your mind.

This book consists of four (sort of) connected separate stories, and the author points out in the beginning that it might be fun to try and read them out of order, because that’s just how darn Unconventional it is. And while these stories jump from century to century and continent to, well, outer space, these stories are all united by one very specific theme: The Spiral.

Mesmerizing and haunting, the symbol of the spiral is timeless and pervasive, and as each one of our Main Characters discover, part of the very fabric of our universe. So the spiral speaks to a prehistoric young girl discovering the magic of making marks with sticks, just as much as it does to Anna - who’s accused of being a witch in 17th century England;  and it speaks to a mysteriously troubled poet in a 1920s insane asylum in America, as much as it does to a lonely astronaut on his way to help colonize New Earth.

Confused yet?!

BFF Charm: Let Me Love (all of) You

Oh boy. This book made me cry FOUR SEPARATE TIMES, ok? It has all the feelz. Each and every story has a character that made me so sympathetic to them that when they each dealt with their own incredibly difficult scenario - as they all did - I was like, overcome with this impulse to hug them. The cave dwelling girl? So brave, but so uncertain in an unexplained world. And Anna, the teen girl who’s just worried about her brother - and now she has to deal with getting called a witch! And don’t even get me started on Dr. James, the doctor in an early twentieth century insane asylum who’s just trying to be kind to his mistreated patients. Oh and then there’s the astronaut in the last story, whose isolation was so palpable that I just wanted to tell him everything will work out.

Be forewarned: you will cry all the tears. And then want to hug all the characters, like I did, which is frustrating because they’re not real. Vicious cycle.

Swoonworthy Scale: - 5

Urgh. Um, this was quite a swoonless book - think more crying and like, agonizing over the unfairness of the world, and not so much with the swooning and smooching. The Official Break Down, for the record:

+ 5 to the heartbroken Doctor James, who misses his beloved wife and is having a really hard time getting over her sudden death. Awwww.
- 10 to Robert Hamill, teenage son of Local Fancy Pants Sir George, who decided he was going to marry peasant/labourer Anna whether she was interested in him or not. And then pulled a classic “she doesn’t like me - SHE’S A WITCH!” move. Booooooooo.

Talky Talk: He Said/She Said/He Said/She Said

Because the stories are all separate things, the style changes from section to section. So in the first part, Cave Girl’s story is told in this lovely and evocative free-style poem approach. Groovy. Parts two and three are the historic section of our tour - one taking place in 17th century England, one taking place in early-twentieth century US, the language was historically appropriate - i.e., no annoying slips into slang. And THEN, just when you think you’ve seen it all, we get to the Final Frontier - the super sci-fi adventures of the astronaut who’s leading a ship to colonize New Earth. This one was great because instead of avoiding the science-y explanations of space travel, Sedgwick dives right in.

Fascinating!

Bonus Factors: ALL THE FEELZ

Ok I already mentioned this, but I think it bears repeating: this book is cathartic, which is my fancy way of saying I was IN A GLASS CASE OF EMOTION. Don’t get me wrong, I think this can be a really good thing - just, like, be prepared. Maybe keep this one for a sunny day.

Anti-Bonus Factors: I’m Sorry Dave, I’m Afraid I Can’t Do That

This book - but especially the last section, which I’ll get to in a sec - reminded me a LOT of my reaction to that seminal classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Which was, to sum it up, a lot of this:

HUH? WHA? BUT I DON’T - I DIDN’T - WAIT - WHAT?

And so on and so forth. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing - but this is an unconventional story structure, and frankly, I was left wanting more. But wait, you say, doesn’t that mean that it was pretty good, if you wanted more of it? Well yes, I’d say, but...I wanted more of it, and didn’t get it. So I don’t know. I guess just be prepared for that. Want a stimulating/cathartic/leave-you-hanging mental puzzle to wake you up this New Year? Great, this is the one for you. But if that’s too much for you...well, you’ve been warned!

Also? The last story was almost certainly written after having watched that seminal classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey. I mean...the astronaut’s name? Keir Bowman. As in...actor Keir Dullea, who portrayed character Dave Bowman in the above mentioned seminal classic movie. Um. To be fair, I may not have caught that had I not myself just finished watching that very same movie...

On the other hand - the third hand I guess - this story is also similar in a good way; you get a stunning sense of the isolation, fear, and just plain weirdness of long-distance space travel. I got the Sci-Fi jollies and the spooks with this one, and that was fun.

In a word? COMPLICATED.

Relationship Status: Coffee Shop Date

Book, I have to be straight with you: you remind me A LOT of that time I went out with that guy from Philosophy class; I can’t decide if you’re actually like way smarter than me, or if you’re just a weirdo with a commitment problem. Maybe we should go out again, and then I’ll probably definitely be able to tell...

FTC Full Disclosure: I recieved my free review copy from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. I recieved neither money nor chocolate for this review, even though I asked really nicely and said Please. The Ghosts of Heaven will be available January 6.

Savannah Kitchens's photo About the Author: Savannah Kitchens is doing the Lord’s work spreading YA lit to the masses as the head (and only member - but who’s really counting?) of the YA department at her library near Birmingham, Alabama. When she’s not disappointing her parents, she’s bottle drinking wine and playing board games with her husband.