Tagline: “There’s a strange new kid on the block…” (Four periods in this ellipsis, which is the worst–everyone knows a proper ellipsis has three.)
Premise: Hannah wakes up in the midst of a nightmare about a horrible fire and, later that day, meets her new next door neighbor, Danny. Danny possesses some odd qualities, including disappearing and reappearing out of nowhere. This leads Hannah to believe that Danny may be a ghost. But when push comes to shove, and Danny’s hand goes straight through Hannah’s stomach with no ill effects, it’s understood that the fire wasn’t a nightmare. Five years before, a fire actually killed Hannah, her parents, and her two younger brothers–and she’s been brought back to save Danny’s life from an equally destructive fire. Meanwhile, Danny’s future ghost is lurking around, just waiting for Danny to die so he can become corporeal. Hannah prevents that from happening by saving Danny’s life; since she can’t die again, she can run straight through that fire and come out unscathed with Danny in tow. She saves Danny, his ghost is gone, and she travels back to the netherworld of ghosts. Or something.
Creepiness factor: Pretty low. Once you find out your protagonist, a generally pleasant tween, is a ghost, nothing can really get to you. Danny’s potential ghost searching for the opportunity to become corporeal is somewhat eerie, though.
Signature Stine moment: This could very well be the best one yet. It happens on page 22.
“Dry as death.”
It seamlessly combines clunky simile with sentence fragment. Outstanding!
Accuracy of title: Perfectly accurate. It’s about a guy the protagonist thinks is a ghost, then SHE turns out to be the ghost, and they’re neighbors! Genius.
Body count: Although by some standards it could still be two, I’m going to raise it to seven with the early death of Hannah and her family.
Moral of the story: If you think your neighbor is a ghost, you’re probably the actual ghost. (This conflicts with the moral of Welcome to Dead House, but no matter.) And you’re probably hanging around so you can save your neighbor’s life. So, you know, get to it.
Overall rating: 7/10. Although I actually had a strong recollection of this book and knew Hannah was the ghost, I didn’t remember the horror of Danny’s ghost. I love a double twist when it doesn’t feel contrived, and this one doesn’t. Next up: one of the seminal Goosebumps titles (and one with a killer TV adaptation to go along with it), The Haunted Mask.