The Girl With the Ghost Machine
By Lauren DeStefano
ARC ebook, 224 pages
ISBN: 9781681194448 (hardcover)
Expected Publication Date: June 6
After the loss of her mother, Emmaline’s father begins tinkering with a strange contraption that he believes will bring back the ghost of his wife. Still suffering from the loss of her mother, Emmaline now feels she’s losing her father to his work on the machine. When confronted with proof that the machine works, Emmaline must battle with how she feels the machine should be used and if the cost is even worth it.
I’m going to come right out and say that I found this book underwhelming and forgettable. I love the concept and how thought-provoking it was, but the characters were weak and I couldn’t connect to the story because of that.
Nothing about Emmaline’s personality stood out to me. Her situation was sad and I enjoyed the way she approached the idea of the ghost machine and how she struggled with her feelings upon discovering it works. For each visit with a ghost, the person using the machine would have to give up a memory attached to the person they’re bringing back. Emmaline was wary of the cost immediately and she posed very thoughtful arguments to her father as to why this machine shouldn’t be used. But her personality didn’t come through so I didn’t really feel for her, more for the situation itself.
The rest of the characters made even less of an impression on me and it caused what I believe should have been an emotional and pivotal part of the book to fall so flat that I found myself wishing I could force myself to react appropriately. I wanted this scene to evoke some emotion in me other than “huh,” but I just couldn’t muster up more than that. I know page counts in middle grade are often on the short end and I think this stopped the characters from feeling developed.
This is still a good book to broach the subject of the loss of loved ones and what we would sacrifice to see them again – and if we should even be allowed to make that choice. Younger readers might find this book more moving and I would still recommend it even though I didn’t get the feels I was looking for.
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.