Monday, December 28, 2015

Reader's Review: "Ghost Hand" by Ripley Patton

Synopsis from Amazon:
Seventeen-year-old Olivia Black has a rare birth defect known as Psyche Sans Soma, or PSS. Instead of a right hand made of flesh and blood, she was born with a hand made of ethereal energy.

How does Olivia handle being the girl with the ghost hand? Well, she's a little bit morbid and a whole lot snarky.

Her mother thinks her obsession with death, black clothing, and the local cemetery is a bid for attention. But when Marcus, the new guy in Olivia's calculus class, stares at her like she's a freak, Olivia doesn't like it. And when her hand goes rogue, doing things she never imagined possible, Olivia finds herself running for her life with Marcus from a group of men bent on taking the power of her hand for their own nefarious purposes. 

My Review: 
I am slowly discovering, the more I read, that the single consistent feature of the books I really liked, and conversely my biggest complaint in books I did not like, is the proper care and presentation of the premise. It really doesn't always matter what that premise is (hence the reason I have given high marks to romance and horror novels, in spite of my typical aversion to those genres) but if it's presented right, I can usually tell within the first chapter or so, and it is usually a good indicator of whether or not I will actually enjoy the rest of the book.

When I read YA specifically, I am looking for the portrayal of the teenage characters. My pet peeve is when the assumptions of adult authors seem to infuse the portrayal of the teens with awkward cliches and lackluster stereotypes. This will also affect my enjoyment of a novel, notwithstanding a solid premise.

Chapter 1 of Ghost Hand starts with a clear presentation of how the condition of PSS functions in the parameters of the real world, and it introduces a few, distinct characters: the Narrator, the Best Friend, the Wild Card, and the Plot Twist Reveal Character. In essence, Chapter 1 did everything exactly as it was supposed to.
I knew I was going to love this book. I was not wrong.

Patton draws the reader in with a credible premise: there is a rare condition in which a part of a person's body is replaced with incorporeal energy—in Olivia's case, her hand. 
She adds a compelling conflict: there are those who want to either harness the "power" generated by having a "ghost" body part that is virtually indestructible and can travel through solid objects... Or remove it from the person entirely. And yes, they will kill to get what they want.
She builds a solid team of allies around the main character—including one or two that might end up betraying her later. Those allies are as diverse as they are entertaining! 
The struggles are realistic, and the commentary of personal thoughts provided by the narrating main character are relatable and poignant by turns. The way Olivia's psychiatrist mother tries to rationalize Olivia's feelings over losing her father to cancer, while subsequently repressing her own--to the detriment of actually understanding her daughter--is just one of the many issues Olivia faces outside of her PSS, which many readers can identify with.
I laughed, I gasped, I cheered, I booed—this book took me through all of the feels, and best of all, I am completely attached to the characters and I want to find out what happens next. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

I am giving *****5 STARS***** to "Ghost Hand", and also adding an Upstream Certified Officially Recommended. If you like paranormal YA with a side of romance (and don't mind some cursing) then you might seriously consider returning to the top of this review and getting your own copy today!