Sythyry (sythyry) wrote,

OOC: Ghost Hand (occasional review)

I found "Ghost Hand", a young adult novel by Ripley Patton, distinctly inspirational. Not *good* exactly, but when I read it I wanted to write a YA novel about a girl with snakes for hands... anyways, that's outside the scope of this review.

Olivia was born with a ghost hand — a hand made of some mysterious glowing-blue ectoplasm stuff. It's not common, but it's hardly unheard-of: there are a few hundred cases of Psyche Sans Soma, PSS, worldwide. (Quibble: PSS seems to be a recent thing — as in, kids of Olivia's generation sometimes got born with it, but no one earlier. This is not stated and kind of makes a huge difference.) PSS replaces a body part, but apparently (and unknown to the characters) with some mysterious magical powers as well. One character's PSS seems to make that character all but immune to death.

The story starts with Olivia's ghost hand going out of control and reaching into a classmate's body and pulling out a bag of magic razor blades which hadn't existed before that. Then there's Marcus, this hunky newcomer to her school, who helps out. And a mysterious stranger who chases her into a cemetary, from which Marcus only barely rescues her. And then the local fire chief burns her house down.

And then things start to get strange and bad.

The central mysteries of the book are certainly intriguing. What is this PSS stuff? Why is there a whole massive conspiratorial organization, CAMF, devoted to destroying it and/or using it as a nonpolluting power source and/or some-freaky-thing? What is Olivia's hand up to? What's going on at all here?

Other features are weaker. Olivia is an interesting person. Marcus is so perfect it's annoying to the reader. The other characters are flat. The main villain is a wickedly-chuckling caricature. The minor villains are inexplicable. And Olivia's crush on Marcus shows up at the stupidest times, and is very flat.

And could the central names PSS and CAMF get any less evocative?

Two ectoplasmic fingers out of five. It's an exciting read, at least. As is often the case, there are more books in the series.
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