I’m a huge fan of Jaclyn Moriarty’s The Year of Secret Assignments, so I was very excited to have snagged a copy of The Ghosts of Ashbury High at internship. I was surprised on how big the book was, but I was determined to read it anyways. Length usually does not faze me.
This is the story of Amelia and Riley, bad kids from bad Brookfield High who have transferred to Ashbury High for their final year. They’ve been in love since they were fourteen, they go out dancing every night, and sleep through school all day. And Ashbury can’t get enough of them.Everyone’s trying to get their attention; even teachers are dressing differently, trying to make their classes more interesting. Everyone wants to be cooler, tougher, funnier, hoping to be invited into their cool, self-contained world.
But they don’t know that all Amelia can think about is her past — an idyllic time before she ran away from home. Riley thinks he’s losing her to the past, maybe even to a place further back in time. He turns to the students of Ashbury for help, and things get much, much worse.
In the tradition of the gothic novel, this is a story about ghosts, secrets, madness, passion, locked doors, femmes fatales, and that terrifying moment in the final year of high school when you realise that the future’s come to get you.
I was definitely not used to Moriarty’s style of writing. It’s been a while since I read The Year of Secret Assignments, so I was not prepared for it. Around 200 pages in, I confess that I skipped to the end at around page 400 because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I could not stand that the story kept back-tracking. While it is fun and interesting to read the story in different perspectives, learning little things with each new story, the story dragged for me. I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again, and it started to get really bothersome. I was so close to quitting, but in the end, I felt that I would feel guilty if I didn’t. So I picked the book back up and kept reading.
Did it get better? I think so. I got used to the narrative (though I still skimmed the meeting minutes) and I was curious to see how the story would get to the ending. I found that I really did love reading about Lydia and Seb and even the new characters of Amelia and Riley. The ghosts of Ashbury did not interest me at all, however. The ghosts are a big part of the plot which is probably why I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would.
Honestly, if I had quit reading this book at 200 pages in, I would have given this book a rating of 2 stars. I’m glad that I did finish reading it though. I don’t feel guilty for abandoning a book, and it makes me feel better writing a review knowing how the book gets to the end. Still, I feel that The Ghosts of Ashbury High does not live up to The Year of Secret Assignments. It’s disappointing, but I have to remember that Secret Assignments was just that good.