Book Review: Notes From Ghost Town

Notes From Ghost Town
Published By: EgmontUSA
Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Page Count: 336
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Paranormal Mystery

There are those fictional characters we envy; we crave their lives and experiences. I can't recall how many times I have wanted to curl up inside a novel and live there for awhile. The fictitious world always seems to hold an allure that real life can't always provide. However, there are also moments when I want to enjoy a story and then leave it when it's done. This doesn't mean a novel is bad, but it does mean that I do not wish to inhabit the characters' lives. Notes From Ghost Town is one of those novels. I loved this book, but I have no desire to trade lives with Olivia - even for a moment.

Olivia, a promising artist, has had her entire world fall apart in the span of ten months. Her parents have gotten divorced, her best friend, Stern, has been murdered, and her mother is in jail awaiting trial for murder.  Olivia can't imagine that her mother was the one who killed Stern, but all the evidence points to that conclusion. Truth and lies meld together until nothing makes sense. She doesn't know who to trust, but she does know that without Stern and her mother nothing makes sense. On top of everything else, Olivia begins to think she might be losing her mind or developing a mental illness like her mother. She can no longer see colors; everything is a smattering of grays. Furthermore, Stern has started appearing to her and he wants her to find out what really happened the night he died. Olivia knows she must be losing her mind because ghosts can't possibly exist, can they?

In Kate Ellison's signature style, Notes from Ghost Town, delivers a compelling mystery told through the eyes of female lead with a questionable outlook. I wasn't quite sure if Olivia was a reliable narrator or if the story was really only playing out in her head. I loved the tension of not knowing what was real and what was imagined. I love how Ellison always seems to add a layer of complexity with her female protagonist. She always places on them some burden that makes the reader question them and root for them all at the same time. Schizophrenia plays a major role in the plot of this one. It is an illness I know little about so I was intrigued to learn more.

One thing that I really enjoyed about this novel was the color symbolism. Olivia's gray world inspired me to refresh my memory on the symbolism of that particular color. According to one website, gray represents loss and depression. Both emotions are tangible throughout the course of this novel. In addition, according to Kate Smith, gray can affect humans physically by unsettling us or creating expectations. Again, I feel that both of those concepts are used throughout the plot of Notes from Ghost Town. The color gray for me sets a somber mood and makes me think of a dismal setting. While this may have been true for the setting of Olivia's mind, it was not true of the physical setting of Miami, Florida, a city that is vibrant and colorful.

Finally, I liked the sense of urgency within this novel. Olivia has nine days to find out what happened to Stern. At the beginning, she is positive that her mother is the murderer, but as time passes, she begins to realize that things may not be what they seem. Olivia's race against time was adrenaline packed and provided a lot of delicious apprehension.

A word of caution - This is not a novel for younger YA readers. There is a considerable amount of cursing, drinking, and sexual situations.

One Last Gripe: My only complaint (and the reason for 4.5 birdies) was that I figured out the twist easily.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The relationship between Olivia and Stern

First Sentence: Think about a moment, a little centimeter of time you'd happily exist in forever, if time could be laid out along the spine of a ruler.

Favorite Character: Olivia

Least Favorite Character: Raina - she got on my nerves at times and I wasn't sure she always had Olivia's best interest in mind

They say first love never dies...

From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it’s only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death. 

There’s a catch: Olivia has gone colorblind, and there’s a good chance she’s losing her mind completely—just like her mother did. How else to explain seeing (and falling in love all over again with) someone who isn’t really there?

With the murder trial looming just nine days away, Olivia must follow her heart to the truth, no matter how painful. It’s the only way she can save herself.


  1. Amazing review. I cannot wait to read this book myself, sounds very deep.

    1. Thanks for checking out the review. I really enjoyed this one. I'd love to hear what you think of it when you have a chance to read it.

  2. I have heard other reviewers mention the twist being easy to spot. 4.5 birds is a great rating! I'll be picking this up soon. Great review!

  3. Glad you enjoyed it!! I've been so eager to read it. I enjoy Kate's writing style. Sounds promising.

  4. this book sounds intriguing. the colorblind thing has my interest perked.

  5. I have often wished to crawl into the lives of fictitious characters but I agree... I would not want to have Olivia's life either.

  6. This looks so mysterious and good! I'm glad to hear you liked the story and characters. I hate when I guess the twists too. Thanks for your thoughts!


Post a Comment

We love your comments!