Sunday, January 12, 2014

Jump on this one for a good young adult read

Jump When Ready by David Pandolfe is a well done after-life story about 14-year-old Henry who accidentally drowns while wading in a river during a teen party. He finds himself in the company other “dead kids” and an older woman, Martha, in another place – a nice, “normal” place that changes according to the desires of the kids and Martha. The kids have their own home together, each with their own private room that suits their personalities and interests from the lives they just left. A food court provides any type of meal.

As part of the process of settling in to his new “life,” the other kids take Henry to his own funeral. Although undetectable by the living, Henry discovers that by really trying he can make his family hear him talking to them in their heads – if only they would believe it was really him! What begins as Henry desperately trying to get through to his family and make them understand that his death was accidental rather than suicide becomes a critical ability when his older sister, Bethany, is kidnapped and held for ransom by a sinister online acquaintance.

Henry and his new friends attempt to save Bethany and bring her captors to justice as they come to understand their afterlife, begin to develop their newly discovered ghostly skills, and avoid becoming ghostly shades trapped in their former lives.

The author’s vision of the kids’ afterlife was great and well described. Explanations of “how things worked” were gradually worked into the storyline so there was a nicely drawn out feeling of discovery. Henry is initially confused and the gradual unveiling of the story was nicely done and progressed at what I felt was a natural pace.

I really liked the main characters. The author provided a nice variety of young teenage characters to populate the new surroundings, and their voices, attitudes, and actions sounded true and appropriate to their ages and situations.

The gradual “reveal” of what heaven is, what hell is, and the soul was gentle, positive, and hopeful, and left me interested in knowing where things might go next for all the main characters.

No comments: