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This Relationship is Dead

When Greg said his girlfriend 'ghosted' him, I assumed she was ignoring him. Brian and his daughter Sophie review Nick Tapalansky's graphic novel Cast No Shadow.

This Relationship is Dead

BOOK REPORT for Cast No Shadow by Nick Tapalansky

Cover Story: The Shadow Knows
Drinking Buddy: You Grew On Me
Testosterone Level: Innocent
Talky Talk: Teen Angel
Bonus Factors: Friendly Haunting,
Bromance Status: And Beyond...

Cover Story: The Shadow Knows

Brian: It's an okay cover, I guess. I would have gone with the back cover, where Greg and Eleanor share an innocent kiss (and Eleanor's feet are not touching the ground).

Sophie: It's pretty good. I will admit when I first saw the back cover, it looked like there were a bunch of tater tots flying around them.

The Deal:

Greg never fit in in his town of Lancaster. He's not an athlete and was never impressed by the World's Largest Hairball, the town's claim to fame. He's embarrassed by Jake, the mayor's son and football star who's always making 'good natured' jokes about Greg. Oh, and Greg doesn't cast a shadow. He just doesn't. Which kind of makes him the local weirdo.

To make things worse, Greg's father has remarried and there's a new woman living in their house. Layla, Greg's brawny yet cute best friend, is now dating Jake. And weird acts of vandalism start happening in town, that all point to Greg as the culprit. He just can't win.

But Greg suddenly makes a new friend. Her name is Eleanor and she lives in the creepy old mansion outside of town. Like Greg, she's kind of a loner. Like Greg, she doesn't really fit in. And she likes Greg. Stands up for him. Thinks he's cute.

She'd be the perfect girlfriend. If she hadn't died eighty years ago.

Drinking Buddy: You Grew on Me

Brian: Greg was kind of a whiner, always assuming the worst in people. He complains about his doting new stepmother, gets angry at Jake's genuine (though buffoonish) attempts at friendship, and doesn't understand why an awkward girl like Layla is thrilled with Jake's attention.

On the other hand, he just kind of accepts Eleanor as 'living impaired' and rolls with it. And when the town is endangered by dark forces, it's Greg who leads his friends in the fight against evil.

Sophie: I thought that Greg could be dramatic at times and acted extreme about problems. I liked Eleanor. She was funny and sarcastic. She's very anal retentive, like me.

Testosterone Level: Innocent

Brian: Greg and Eleanor's romance had a very innocent vibe to it. While they can certainly touch, they're both too shy and awkward to do more than kiss. But when he's a ungainly nerd and she's an almost hundred year old spirit, it's probably best to take things slowly.

As for the action side of the coin, things get pretty intense at the end, with an evil force attacking the town. Something dark, yet familiar to Greg. Something he never should have lost. Something that's part of him...

Sophie: It was kind of slow toward the beginning, but the ending was pretty impressive. I've never liked romance very much, but the romance in the book was well-written.

Talky Talk: Teen Angel

Brian: I think this is the romance all teenage nerds fantasized about: a girl with the confidence-building skill of Lisa from Weird Science, the powers of the genie from Aladdin, and the 'don't you dare hurt my guy' badassery of Eleven from Stranger Things.

Sophie: There was the right amount of action, romance and humor that kept me reading. I was glad Greg didn't kill himself so he could be with the ghost.

Bonus Factor (Brian): Friendly Haunting

Eleanor's been alone for decades, chasing off curious explorers and vandals. But when Greg shows up, she's not afraid to introduce herself. And Greg really isn't scared of this cute translucent girl with stepparent issues of her own.

Bonus Factor (Sophie): Non Angsty Ghost

Eleanor acted like a real girl, not some miserable ghost, crying that everyone she loved has died.

Bromance Status: And Beyond...

I think my friendship with this book will last a very long time. A very long time.

FTC Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, First Second Books. I got neither money nor an 'I Heart Lancaster' t-shirt for my troubles.

 

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.