Monday, June 7, 2010

Dreaming of Amelia (The Ghosts of Ashbury High) - Jaclyn Moriarty

This is the story of Amelia and Riley. 

They're bad kids from the bad crowd at bad Brookfield High, and  they've just transferred to Ashbury High for their final year. 

Brilliant, mysterious and probably evil, they have the rich kids at Ashbury spellbound.

This is the story about ghosts and secrets, of passion, locked doors and femmes fatales; of final-year-of high school tension and intrigue.

This is the story of the PAST and the FUTURE that has come to get YOU. (from back cover - and don't you just love the line: Brilliant, mysterious and probably evil...?)

Every time I've read Jaclyn Moriarty's books, I think: Oooh, this book is just so delicious that I can't imagine she's ever going to think up such awesomely wonderful sentences again. But I keep getting proven wrong. Dreaming of Amelia took me longer to read because I kept pausing to re-read sentences, they just feel so good in my brain :)  However, I am determined to maintain my fan-girl tendencies and try to bring you a dignified blog post about it. Some info about the book:

The story's told in a series of student's HSC exam responses (written essays of the gothic - but comedic -  nature), blog posts (with oh-so-awesome comments), memos, emails and meeting agenda sheets, from multiple POV's: students from Ashbury High and staff as well.

And, because Jaclyn is obviously a genius, she presents them all in a sometimes chronological time line, other times not and other times overlapping so you end up with a layered and slightly chaotic telling of the events. Each layer adds intrigue and a different POV that swivels the story around slightly. So... it is unlike any other YA book out there, really. It's like Jaclyn just invented her own thing and I can't really compare it to anything else I've read. Because the structure is so different to many books, you just have to sink into to it and settle in for the ride.

The main thing you need to know about this book is that it is Funny.

Also, whimsical.

Expect to feel good. And smile a lot.

And if you're a laugh-out-loud-while-reading kinda person, you will be laughing out loud, loudly.

Plus, I kind of ached in some of the more poignant moments.

Sometimes, it gets a little bit crazy. But I like that.

And, for me, I just adore the characters.

...and, I'm starting to wonder if they aren't real people, roaming around Castle Hill.

I particularly loved re-visting Em and Lyd and Cassie (of The year of Secret Assignments, who also cameo in Bindy MacKenzie), they are some of my fave YA characters ever. And, Seb. Sigh. Riley's not bad either, I definitely feel the love there.

And och, aye, Toby's Irish history and convict storyline was grand, to be sure (okay, so that sounds lame from me, but from Toby, you will feel the Irish love).

Other random things to love:

  • there's an axe murderer
  • there's a mental asylum of the old fashioned kind
  • everyone's going crazy about Riley and Amelia and the mystery and wonder of them...
  • there's ghostly activity at Ashbury High
  • there's love and broken hearts and kisses in a classroom 
  • the staff at the school are just as gloriously entertaining as the students
  • you will learn about black holes. I know!
  • there's parties and secrets and nostalgic moments that made me feel nostalgic too

Overall though, I am in awe of the lovely chaotic storyline and the weaving of it all together and the beautiful, mysterious climax - how does Jaclyn do that? She's a genius and I don't think her style can be mimicked - it's so deliciously unique.

I keep this one near my bedside, so I can randomly flick through it and re-read passages. It's very therapuetic :)

And, if you've never read Jaclyn Moriarty -- Go here right now and scroll down and click on the link to read the first pages...and you will fall under her spell. Haha :) No, seriously, you will. 

It is the fourth in a series, but also a stand alone. However, if you were to read one before this, read The Year of Secret Assignments (Finding Cassie Crazy). Which you should read asap if you've never had The Jaclyn Moriarty Experience.

I'm feeling a little like this review is all over the place. Heh. My thoughts get all scrambled when I try to make sense of the wonder that is this book. Anyway, the main point of this is: I thoroughly and highly urge you to read this book. And, it's now out in the US. And, as a side note - which cover calls out to you? I have the silver one (Australian). The cute blonde chick is the UK version, and the gothic high school one is the US.


  1. Hmmm. I've never even heard of this author. I really liked the back blurb and while your review sort of bounced around, if you are right, it's a lot like the book itself - chaotic but fascinating. So yeah, that was a compliment.

    I'm going to hop over and read the first few pages. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. aww yay thanks for the review! i'd never heard of these books :D

    must dive in!

  3. I actually just bought this based on the cover (US) I didn't realize it was a series I'll have to check out the first book. Thanks for the great review

  4. I love the way you review your books. Makes me wanna rush to the bookstore right away!

    And I want this too <3

  5. that style of writing is amazing... I would love to read it, another for my wishlist

  6. If you could e-mail me with a few suggestions on just how you made your blog look this excellent, I would be grateful.


Thanks for the commenty love :)