DNFed at 42%. I can't trudge through it any longer, not without booze, and I guess this is a sure sign I shouldn't go on.
I wanted to like this story so, so badly. You can't imagine. Necromancy is exactly the kind of magic (or, more generally, power) that fascinates me, for all the possibilities it offers and questions it raises, and from the blurb, I thought I would love this story. Even the acronym for Caleb's ability (AFTD - Affinity For The Dead) got my attention.
But I just can't, for the following reasons:
Juvenile prose, for starters. Granted, the narrator is supposed to be 13-14, However, the jumbled thoughts, run-on sentences and limited vocabulary still made it hard to go through the story. Some sentences were also really weird:
"Mom liked to notice me growing by saying my eyeballs were "taller" than whatever random day she had noticed before."
Too much useless dialogue and everyday life scenes. Those needed serious trimming. I don't demand action and only action, but I really don't need to know about every breakfast food, teenage thought, phone (sorry, pulse) conversation, and so on. There's a fine line to tread between "characters who're still schooled yet are never seen in class/doing homework" and "detailing every school day". Here, it was just too much of the latter. On top of it, Caleb's observations weren't particularly interesting.
Annoying characters, especially Jonesy. Jonesy wasn't funny nor clever. He was just the kind of moronic teenage boy who's probably going to earn a Darwin Award someday. From the start, I just couldn't stand him. With such friends, who still needs enemies?
And then, then: Too Stupid To Live characters. The whole lot, adults included.
The premise seems to be about Caleb not wanting to end up like the one guy who had exactly the same abilities as him (basically, this would mean being stripped of all his freedom and human rights, and be used as a government tool). So why, why does he have to blab about it to everyone, and show off his power? In the most idiotic ways possible?
He faints in biology class due to "hearing" all the dead frogs. However, he doesn't want the two school bullies to think he's a sissy. What does he do? Take them to the local cemetery and raises some random bloke from his grave.
The guys are bullies. They never miss an opportunity to taunt him. Worst people ever to show off to.
He raises a dead dog in the middle of the street. With plenty of witnesses around.
"A cop's interest in our lives couldn't be a good thing, whatever angle you look from."
Then why did you tell said cop about his being AFTD?
"Garcia looked at Mom thoughtfully. [...] I decided to man-up, I wasn't little anymore.
I broke the silence. "I have Affinity for The Dead.""
A cop. Not a bad guy overall, but still, someone whose duty involves reporting people like Caleb:
"If I find out you're a Cadaver-Manipulator, we are lawfully bound to report that to the proper authorities."
And it's not only Caleb. It's everyone.
Jonesy doesn't seem to grasp the basic concept of "talking about Caleb's abilities could mean the government finding out". Of course, he flaps his mouth in front of Caleb's parents and the cop:
"Jonesy piped in, "I still wanna know what happened to the dog.""
(Caleb did a mental facepalm; so did I.)
The two bullies? They don't rat Caleb out. Seriously, if I had been a villain, and disliked some guy like they seemed to dislike him, I'd have used that golden opportunity to get rid of him.
His parents: they're supposed to be the growns-up. His father's the one who mapped up the whole human genome, thus paving the way to the tests and injection that would later awaken latent abilities in teenagers. Like Parker (the first AFTD). Like Caleb. I expected much more from them. They didn't deliver.
Example: they want to test his abilities. The best course of action they devise is to take him to the cemetery to talk to his great-grandmother, and potentially, raise her from her grave (by the time it happens, they already suspect he's not just the basic AFTD kid who can merely see and talk to ghosts).
"Mom began, 'We've thought about it and decided that after this whole mess is over,' her smile said the mess wasn't my fault [...]"
I'm sorry to break the news to you, Caleb, but yes, it is. It is your fault. At this point, you're too stupid to be left running free, because who knows what harm you could do, considering the dumb ideas you and your pals could still come up with?
A wonder he hasn't been discovered/ratted out already. I won't find out on my own, though. I'm giving up.