I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.
Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.
I absolutely fell in love with this book. I read it as a preparation for my US of YA reading challenge (the second book in its trilogy, Arise, counts for Louisiana), and I'm so glad that I took the time to do that. As far as young adult literature goes, this book is awesome.
I will be the first to admit that, even though I fell in love the book, it's got some imperfections. There are some books in which every sentence is like a gift, they're so perfect. In these books, the words are meticulously chosen and they're arranged so wonderfully that it's just mind-blowing. This is not one of those books. Stylistically, there was nothing that wowed me. Hudson's word choice and phrasing, while not boring, are nothing special; they're just extraordinary.
But that's okay, because Hudson doesn't need perfect style to be a great storyteller. I was hooked from the very first chapter. I love that the reader learns everything as the main character, Amelia, does. There's no info dumping, even though Hudson dabbles in world building whenever she discusses the spiritual realms. There's no info repeating, either - even though Amelia learns just about everything before her boyfriend, Joshua, does, Hudson thankfully doesn't feel the need to show us every detail of their conversations as Amelia fills Joshua in on the gaps. And there's just enough mystery to keep the pages turning, but not so much that every chapter ends with a cliffhanger, either. It's really well-done, and it helped me to absolutely fly through this book.
The one thing that kind of irked me was Amelia's relationship with Joshua. I liked Amelia, I liked Joshua, I liked them together, BUT it was definitely a case of instalove. I think the whole story takes place over the course of like a week? And by the end of the book, they were saying "I love you." While I know that there are plenty of teenage couples who do just that, I do think that if Hudson wanted the reader to take Amelia and Joshua's relationship seriously, she should have given them a bit more emotional maturity than that. Also, Joshua is WAY too unphased by Amelia being a ghost. I think I mentioned this in my status update. When she drops that bombshell on him, his reaction is basically, "Hmm. Okay. Cool." Obviously, he's experienced some pretty weird stuff and I suppose it's arguable that since his grandmother's a Seer, he's more accustomed to the idea of supernatural entities than most people are, but I still think that he should have been a bit more skeptical at first - Amelia should have had to work a bit harder to get him to believe her. And finally (and possibly most annoyingly), there was the physical aspect of their relationship - anytime Joshua and Amelia touched each other, they basically felt like a jolt of electricity. When they kiss, Amelia has to struggle not to disappear and materialize somewhere else. The result was a lot of very heavy anticipation, LOTS of build up... and then nothing. Unnecessary, in my opinion.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It definitely has its flaws, but it's a book that I couldn't put down and I seriously cannot wait to start book two! I think that Hudson did a great job of making this a complete story while still leaving room for there to be lots of possibilities for the rest of the series. I'm definitely looking forward to continuing this story, and I'll be looking for more from Hudson in the future!