Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ascenders by CL Gaber

"It will keep you up all night reading." USA Today bestselling author Tiffany King.

Walker Callaghan doesn't know what happened to her. One minute she was living her teenage life in suburban Chicago...and the next minute, she was in a strange place and in a brand new school with absolutely no homework, no rules, and no consequences. Walker Callaghan, 17, is dead. She doesn't go to heaven or hell. She lands at The Academy, a middle realm where teenagers have one thing in common: They were the morning announcement at their high schools because they died young.

These high school kids are now caught in a strange “in-between” zone where life hasn’t changed very much. In fact, this special teen limbo looks a lot like life in a quaint Michigan town complete with jocks, popular girls and cliques. "There are even cheerleaders in death," Walker observes. It's not a coincidence that the music teacher is a guy named Kurt who "used to have this band." The drama teacher, Heath, is crush worthy because back in his life, he starred in some superhero movie.

Principal King explains the rules -- there are none. Why? You can't die twice.
There is no homework. No tests. No SATS. You're just there to learn because the human brain isn't fully formed until you're 24.

By the way, you can't get hurt physically, so race your Harley off that hillside. But falling in love is the most dangerous thing you can do ...because no one knows how long you'll stay in this realm or what's next.
"Losing someone you love would be like dying twice," Walker says.

* * * * * *
Walker Callaghan has just arrived at the Academy after a tragic car accident. “Is this heaven or is this high school?” she asks.
She finds out her new life is a bit of both as she falls in love with tat-covered, bad boy Daniel Reid who is about to break the only sacred rule of this place. He's looking for a portal to return back to the living realm.
He needs just one hour to retrieve his younger brother who strangely never arrived at The Academy. Bobby is an Earth Bound Spirit, stuck at a plane crash site that took both of their lives as their rich father piloted his private jet nose-first into a cornfield on Christmas Eve.
Walker loves Daniel and risks it all to go with him.
Have they learned enough to outsmart dangerous forces while transporting a young child with them? Can their love survive the fragmented evil parts of themselves that are now hunting them down as they try to find a way back to the middle?
At the Academy, you learn the lessons of an after-lifetime.

Ascenders was sent to me courtesy of the author. Despite lacking time to read as of late, I couldn't put this book down once I started it. It makes an amazing addition for the YA Paranormal Romance genre. Also, it is a clean read. There is nothing naughty in it to make us parental units worry.

I'd say you caught onto the cues that the female protagonist, Walker Callaghan, often referred to as Callaghan in the story, is deceased and attending an Academy for those in the realm of the "in-between". Most of those existing in her realm are teenagers. Her mother being there is a bittersweet exception to the rule. No spoilers so I won't elaborate. 

Much of the focus on this story is to her adjustments to the realm, a boy of mystery named Daniel, and the plotting of a forbidden adventure. There is only one rule that is enforced at the Academy. Daniel and Callaghan are devoted to breaking it.

As a "ghost story" you can also expect darker elements to be presented, nothing too morbid of course. Along with various celebrities being mentioned, there are also people who are notorious for their heinous acts against humanity. Those were a pleasant surprise!

I cannot wait until my children are old enough to read Ascenders. I was able to enjoy it as an adult so I imagine it will be epic for the teenage generation. It has an extremely entertaining story-line,but I also believe it contains something beneficial for teens to take from it. The other factor I found pleasing is the inclusion of hushed topics that have just recently been trending on social media, such as anorexia or bullying. These may not be the primary focus of the story, but my hopes are that it will trigger a sense of compassion and understanding in teenagers.

Altogether, I loved it! I read the excerpt for Ascenders 2 and I can't get my hands on the second installment quickly enough. I'll be recommending this book to everyone! 5 stars!

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