I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Smashwords Edition on May 28th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Source: ARC from publisher
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Even being dead isn’t enough to get you out of maths class.
Dying wasn't on sixteen-year-old Riley Richardson's to-do list. And now, not only is she dead, but she's stuck in a perpetual high school nightmare. Worse still, she's stuck there with the geekiest, most annoying boy in the history of the world, ever.
In a school where the geeks are popular and just about everything is wrong, Riley has become an outcast. She begins a desperate quest to get back home, but her once-perfect life starts to unravel into something not nearly as great as she thought it was. And maybe death isn’t really that bad after all...
Welcome to Afterlife Academy, where horns are the norm, the microwave is more intelligent than the teachers, and the pumpkins have a taste for blood.
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Afterlife Academy is a Young Adult paranormal romantic comedy, suitable for approximately ages 14 and up.
Now, the premise was really interesting, I thought, and well done. I know I just published my Favorites Friday: Best Concept of Death post, but if I make a Part II this will definitely be on it. We are constantly wondering what happens after death, and while this may not be one of the more believable answers, it certainly is an entertaining one. Imagine having to finish school…even after death. Clearly school is important, huh? But I have the feeling that the things she learned at the Academy weren’t entirely academic. And that was the whole point.
Some might say this story was a bit typical. The bully realizes her mistakes when she is put in her victims’ shoes (and even falls for one of the victims). But I enjoyed it. It was done in a different way (because it’s the afterlife) and I felt like that changed some important things. There were a lot of second chances going around. A lot of karmic retribution. That seemed to be the point. Riley spent a good deal of her time complaining, but she was slowly learning from her mistakes. No, I did not want to shake her (even though it got annoying after a while), but I was waiting for her to realize her wrongs. I knew she would eventually.
And something about her relationships with people hit home for me. I won’t get into personal details, but the group of friends I hang out with are people like Anthony. I could identify with their relationship. I know how it feels to be new somewhere and have to make friends like she did. Granted, I was more the quiet sort than the prom-queen bully sort, but she changed in time. It was a really interesting story.
Anthony: A really nice, surprisingly patient sort. I probably wouldn’t have been able to put up with Riley at certain times, but he did it admirably.
The setting was limited to the school, and the rest was shrouded in mystery. It was never really revealed what was out there, in the rest of Death World, as they called it. That’s one reason I want a sequel- to have the chance for these things to be explained further.
The end was an equal mix of unexpected and anticlimactic. She made the right choice in the end, but it opened up tons more possibilities that made me wish for a sequel. There were a lot of things left unresolved. Highlight for spoilers:
Where did the portal end up? What would happen if she went through it? Would time travel be involved?
What was the rest of Death World like? How come nobody who graduated ever came back?
What’s up with the demons and magic microwaves and biting pumpkins? These things are only mentioned a few time but never explained.
There’s one in particular that made me stop. I remember thinking, The feels…they’re everywhere….
“You would. Don’t you even care that you’re dead?” [Riley]
He shrugs. “I didn’t really have a lot to live for.” [Anthony]
That makes me stop in my tracks and look at him. [Riley]
PLOT TWIST! Sorry, couldn’t resist yelling that. It’s quite a depressing conversation. And it marks the beginning of Riley’s turnaround.
Good vs. Bad
- characters (most of them)
- ending (I want a sequel)
- Riley (self-explanatory)