Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Review: Absent


AbsentAuthor: Katie Williams
Release date: May 21st 2013
Publisher: Chronicle
Hardcover, 184 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

Forever is a long time to be stuck in high school.
Seventeen-year-old Paige is dead, the victim of a freak fall from the roof during Physics class. Now she’s a ghost, permanently bound to the grounds of her high school. It isn’t all bad, she can find out everyone’s secrets, which can be amusing—for a while.
But then Paige hears something that isn’t amusing at all: the rumor spread by the most popular girl at school that her death wasn’t an accident—that she supposedly jumped on purpose. Paige is desperate to stop the gossip, but what can a ghost do? Then Paige discovers something amazing. She can possess living people when they think of her, and she can make them do almost anything. Maybe, just maybe, she can get inside the girl who’s responsible for the stories. . . and have a little fun turning the tables while she’s at it.

Katie Williams’s second novel is a suspenseful page-turner full of eerie wit and a touch of the otherworldly
For a book that is mere 180 pages long, Absent is surprisingly heart-wrenching. It is a poignant story about coming to terms with death, accepting things and moving on. Although short, Absent has many great qualities, such as Katie Williams’ simple, yet beautiful writing and many subtle messages that delicately, but firmly teach us the truths about life.

Paige is dead. She fell off the roof of her high school during her physics class and ended up tied to the school grounds along with two other ghosts, Brooke and Evan. She spends her days in classes, listening to conversations, hoping to hear that she’s missed by someone other than her best friend Usha. Instead, she hears rumors that she committed suicide and she knows exactly who’s to blame.

Paige soon discovers that she can possess any person, as long as that person is thinking about her. The memorial being painted by the school entrance ensures that people remember her, at least in passing, and she’s free to possess whomever she chooses. She uses this ability to stop unwanted rumors, spread different ones and make sure that everyone gets exactly what they deserve.

Paige isn’t a bad person at all, but she’d been deluding herself in life and death has a way of opening your eyes even when you don’t want it to. Her desire to be mourned by the boy she liked despite herself, the same boy who refused to acknowledge her in public when she was alive, helped me see the lonely girl underneath her masks. All three ghosts had to come to terms with their untimely deaths and the damage they left behind. They had many regrets and things to forgive themselves for, but they all learned that it’s never too late to become a better person.

Even with three ghosts at the center of the story, Absent doesn’t address the matter of life after death. Williams never even tries to offer her version of the afterlife, nor do her characters question their ties to the school. I saw this as an admission that the hows and whys aren’t for us to question, which I really appreciated.

The subtle message of this tiny book is that not all wrongs can be put to right and that sometimes the cards you’ve been dealt don’t matter – all that matters is making peace with the things that went wrong and moving on. Absent wasn’t what I expected it to be, but what I took away from it was more valuable than it first seemed. This is a book you’ll think about long after you finish it, and the more you think about it, the more you’ll like it.


26 comments:

  1. Great review Maja! I'm glad you enjoyed this one! I reviewed it the other day & I have to say the first half of the book nearly put me to sleep but the second half really picked up. :)

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  2. 180 pages really is tiny! But it sounds like it's very well done. And it sounds sad! Poor Paige. She does seem like she's deluding herself. I just want to hug her (but you can't do that to a ghost, can you?).

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  3. I'm seeing this book everywhere with all positive reviews- now that is saying something HUGE. For a tiny book, it's surprising to hear it was emotional and all, from what I've read, short stories fail to catch my heart entirely.

    Lovely review, Maja! <33

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  4. I haven't seen this one around (where have I been?) but it sounds like it is quite the emotional and powerful read. I am going to look into it now.
    Great review Maja!

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  5. So happy that you ended up enjoying this one too, Maja! I was so surprised at how much substance was thrown into so few pages with this one and I really fell for the story. I couldn't put it down and ended up finishing it in a short sitting one morning. Great review!

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  6. Wow, Maja! This sounds absolutely fantastic. I love a book that packs a punch in a short amount of time, I think that's really hard to do. Normally I just can't quite settle into so short a story before it's over, but I'm going to give this one a try for sure. Stunning review as usual!

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  7. I haven't heard of this before but I love that it's short yet powerful. Plus, I really like that the author didn;t touch the afterlife subject and made this into a fun. light read. Definitely something to look forward too! Great review, Maja!

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  8. I am planning on starting this tonight. I need a book that packs a punch and I am happy that it is a quick read. I am anxious to check it out for myself. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Fantastic review, as usual!

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  9. Maja you have me curious and I like how you described the authors approach. At only 180 pages, I think I am going to try to squeeze this one in!

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  10. Oh I like a book that stays with you and you end up liking it more and more. I also think it would be hell to be stuck in HS. HELL! LOL I'm surprised that 180p. works. I would have thought it too short. Okay, now I'm really curious. :)

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  11. Huh, I really like that this has such a realistic message. BUT, I feel like I've been burned too many times by stories about ghosts - such as The Catastrophic History of You and Me - so I'm not sure if I'll pick this up. Still, it's good to know that such a short story can still pack such a punch. I love those books that just linger. Great review, Maja! :)

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  12. The message about accepting what you got is a beautiful message that I would love to gain from reading a book. Fantastic review Maja! It was wonderful to learn about this intriguing book.

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  13. Wow!

    Wonderful review! I didn't realize how good this book sounded. I had been very curious about it when I saw the book and premise. The storyline is definitely different sounds like a small but emotionally packed book! Love the sound of it, adding it to my list.

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  14. This is on my reading docket this week, and I'm thrilled to hear you got so much enjoyment and value out of such a short read. I had no idea it's only 180 pages! I think the message is lovely and it's wonderful that the author didn't feel the need to give the reader a fictional afterlife, but let it remain the mystery that it is in real life. Beautiful review!

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  15. I remember seeing this cover but I don't think I ever knew what it was even about. I LOVE books like this though and now I'm REALLY wanting to read it! On my wishlist it goes!

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  16. Your review is the first that I've seen for this book and I honestly really want to try it now! It's hard to believe that this book packed a punch being so tiny, but I suppose that's the author's power of writing? The plot sounds really intriguing and it seems like there's so much depth to it, and I LOVE those types of stories. Beautiful review, Maja! <3

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  17. I'm so happy to hear this! I have this one my to-read list and it really sounds great. Even though it's short it sounds like a nice and heart-breaking book. I can't wait to read it. I haven't read a lot of books about ghosts! Great review Maja :)

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  18. I really love the sound of the message that you came away with from this one, Maja. I thought this one would be sort of a lighthearted read from the synopsis but it seems like it's a lot more serious than I would expect. I'm looking forward to giving it a try. Thanks!

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  19. The theme of making wrongs right sounds great in this one

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  20. Wonderful review! I don't believe I'd heard of this one yet. I was curious about the length, but I'm glad it was still a full, emotional novel despite the shortness. It's always nice to see this one doesn't deal with the afterlife...gives something new to think about.

    -lauren

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  21. Imagine being stuck as a ghost at high school! I think that would be pretty awful. Interesting concept, though. I really like how you phrased the fact that the book doesn't really address the idea of life after death, except I suppose, in having people as ghosts. Too often I feel like authors try to accomplish too much in their stories, whereas it sounds as though this author knows her book's limitations and focuses on what's actually important to the story.

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  22. Wow, I'm impressed. I don't really expect books that are so short to have so much depth to them. So the author must be quite talented indeed! I really love that premise. And I really REALLY love that this is a read that will keep you thinking long after you've finished reading. That's the best. Also, this was a great review!

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  23. Oh this sounds wonderful. I don't think I've really paid much attention to it until now, but I'd definitely like to read it.

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  24. I'm quite glad to hear that Absent doesn't address the matter of the afterlife. That's actually makes a nice change. I've been curious about this one, but, for some reason or another, I haven't really considered reading it yet. I will definitely consider it now. Great review, Maja!

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  25. I've been wanting to read this one for a long time. Even though it is short from most of the reviews I have read it does pack quite a punch. Accepting things and learning to move on. Sounds heart wrenching indeed.

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