The Dead and Buried

By Kim Harrington
Published on January 1st 2013
Published by Scholastic Point
Source: Netgalley
A haunted house, a buried mystery, and a very angry ghost make this one unforgettable thriller.

Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.

Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school — until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?
Well, 'tis the season for me reading creepy ghost stories. Thanks, Pumpkin Spice Season. The Dead and Buried tells a pretty familiar ghost story: family moves into house, house turns out to be murder house, ghost won't leave, things start to suck. There's a pretty familiar romance buried in there, too - girl meets boy, makeouts ensue.  Familiar is kind of the overall theme here really, for me.

And I think that was my problem with this book - everything felt familiar. There wasn't anything new or different that separated this story from all the other paranormal ghost stories already out there, except for maybe the fact that we get to experience part of the story through journal entries from the dead girl. Even the characters all fit into well-worn molds: Jade, the pretty girl who doesn't care about being popular; her father, loving but hardly ever in the picture; her stepmother, who she has a strained relationship with; her half-brother, who exists mostly to be cute and funnel plot forward.

The mystery aspect was somewhat interesting as Jade tried to figure out how Kayla, the dead girl, really died. Was it suicide? An accident? Murder? And if so, who did it? But Jade's way of figuring it out was mostly to surround herself with the popular kids and listen to gossip. So it wasn't very action packed, and was more focused on Jade creating relationships with the kids at school.  I half-liked the romance between her and Donovan, and half found it sort of creepy, for reasons that are kind of spoilers.  It moved pretty fast -- not instalove, really, but Jade and Donovan are drawn to each other pretty quickly.

The characters do have some layers and secrets, which I won't reveal but which made things more interesting.  For most of the time I didn't really know what the final outcome was going to be, because there were a lot of red herrings throughout the story.  I did figure it out a few steps ahead of the final reveal, though.

Overall, I enjoyed this book but it was ultimately kind of forgettable.  The writing is very simple and keeps the pace moving along, and I read a good 60% of it in one sitting, so it's easy reading.  It was a good distraction for a few hours if you're looking for a creepy ghost story, but it wasn't anything that I ever found myself too invested in.

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