By Daniel Waters
Publisher: Hyperion Books CH
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Thriller
Living in the aftermath of the Event means that seeing the dead is now a part of life, but Veronica wishes that the ghosts would just move on. Instead, the ghosts aren’t disappearing–they’re gaining power.
When Veronica and her friend, Kirk, decide to investigate why, they stumble upon a more sinister plot than they ever could have imagined. One of Veronica’s high school teachers is crippled by the fact that his dead daughter has never returned as a ghost, and he’s haunted by the possibility that she’s waiting to reappear within a fresh body. Veronica seems like the perfect host. And even if he’s wrong, what’s the harm in creating one more ghost?
From critically acclaimed Generation Dead author Daniel Waters, comes a delectably creepy and suspenseful thriller. Break My Heart 1,000 Times will leave readers with the chills. Or is that a ghost reading over the page?
I had the hardest time choosing a book to review for my stop during the Something Wicked Comes event! Killers, beasts, creepy crawlies, demons, mothers-in-law, vampires – all great sources of terror, but nothing really jumped out at me – ha, see what I did there – so I went with a classic and chose ghosts.
In the years following an unspecified Event that instantaneously killed millions of people, ghosts are everywhere, visible to everyone. They look like they’re reenacting little scenes by themselves over and over each day, always at the same time for just a minute or so. For teenager Veronica, one of the ghosts she has in her house is her father, who shows up at 7:13 every morning to read his paper and have a sip of coffee at the kitchen table.
As odd as life has become with the ghosts, there’s still school, work, friends and dating. Veronica’s classmate Kirk has a crush on her and he’s been given permission from one of his teachers to do some research on ghosts for extra credit, knowing it won’t take much to entice her to come with him for most of his field trips. They start with some notorious local ghosts and start checking out people who were murdered, fatefully picking the one girl who would lead them to the next girl in a serial killer’s collection.
Cue The Twilight Zone music. This was weird. I think it was the juxtaposition of so much normality with the freaky: the slightly strange ghosts that do everyday things like Veronica’s dad, then the ghosts who are caught in the middle of dying or something horrible, then the downright creepiness of the serial killer plot that gave me the shivers. Let’s add in some psychological problems, shall we?
Veronica has, let’s say, issues. The girl is more comfortable with ghosts than she is with people. She can’t commit and has gotten very good at placing the blame on the guys that she’s constantly dumping. She’s not a flirt, it’s not her fault they attach themselves to her. Even with her best friend Janine, she’s happy to declare under what circumstances she’s willing to be needed. She can be difficult to like unless you give her some slack for being such an emotional chicken.
You find out almost immediately who the killer is, since it’s as much his story and why he kills as it is Veronica’s. He lost a daughter when she was a teenager and he and his wife never recovered. Since she was born on February 29, a leap year, he believes that if he kills another girl who was born on that day, on that day, that the veil will lift and his daughter will be able to come back to life. There are some shades of Psycho happening with this family that add more creepy-crawly onto the story.
The other characters play important roles just supporting Veronica and the killer which is good since their perspectives are drowned out by theirs. Kirk is a nice kid, probably too nice for Veronica. He doesn’t have any frame of reference for her, not having lost anyone in The Event, having a big family and not feeling any particular attachment or affinity for ghosts. Her best friend Janine was terrified of ghosts but ended up being an asset and a new ghost in Veronica’s bathroom who was related to one of the murder victims tried to help. All of them did what they could for Veronica and tried to make some kind of relationship with her which didn’t always make sense since she was as cuddly as a cactus.
My Summary: I wasn’t terrified and I can turn the lights off but this was still very creepy. Ghosts, serial killers and Psycho are a guaranteed trifecta of chill-makers for me though, and this worked for that. I haven’t read anything quite like this before and I look forward to rereading it during the next dark and stormy night.
My Rating: B+