2 out of 4 stars
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In a world where ghosts, poltergeists, and demons exist, comes a ride where fear can never be the feeling you have. Never Fear the Reaper by Ashley Pagano brings supernatural into what seems to be a normal world.
Chase has unfortunately been dealing with an invisible entity in his house for days. Left with no other choice, he enlists Ryder, a ghost exterminator, to take care of the problem. What he learns is not only that ghosts exists, but that he has a strong connection to the supernatural world, as well.
Noticing this new ability, Ryder agrees for Chase to tag along in her next couple of jobs. With the power of Ryder’s weapon, Scythe, directly from the Grim Reaper himself, they find themselves in a wild and dangerous ride that Chase will likely never forget.
I found it great that Pagano uses a strong and very-driven female as one of the leads in this story. Anytime this is done, it positively reinforces that women can be strong, resourceful, and become good role models for young girls.
However, there were a number of aspects of this read that were off-putting. Perhaps one of the biggest concerns I have is the inconsistency of character perspective. In the beginning, the first-person, present perspective is clearly used. After a few chapters, a new voice is introduced – two police officers who become involved in Chase and Ryder’s adventure. In Chapter Nine, though, both of these perspectives mesh together into one, which threw me for a loop. It was still in the first-person narrative using words like “I” and “me”, but focused on the officers; the storytelling goes as far as to share the officers’ thoughts and actions. Presumably Chase is telling the story, but since it is in the present time, how does he know what other people are thinking and doing, especially when he isn’t with them?
Then the characters in general were very bland. The officers had no recognizable qualities, making it difficult to distinguish who was the captain and who was the deputy, or determining if it even mattered. I also found Chase, at times, to be unlikable with his disrespect and odd moments of thinking about sex. Ryder was the most likable and most developed character even though the story was told through Chase’s eyes.
My last thoughts are about the writing style and the grammar. Oftentimes, Chase clearly shows his feelings when he experiences something new, but then he proceeds to explicitly state what his feelings are, causing repetition. For example, when warding off the supernatural, Chase spits out several questions toward Ryder, showing much trepidation. Immediately afterward, he shares “Clearly, I’m starting to panic.” (pg. 57) within his thoughts. This obvious statement is redundant, which causes the intensity in the action sequence to drop.
Grammatically, there are quotation marks missing and words misspelled or misused. Such as, “taping his foot” instead of “tapping his foot” (pg. 71) and “It’s is a ritual...” (pg. 92) including both the contraction and an extra “is”. These were fairly distracting.
Though I can see how teenagers might enjoy this read with its simplicity, casual romance, and straightforward plot, I simply did not. Aside from the younger audience, I cannot easily recommend this to anyone else. With much consideration, I give Never Fear the Reaper a 2 out of 4 stars.
Never Fear the Reaper
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