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Synopsis: From Amazon
"I knew it was time to move on when a tramp peed on my Uggs..." Meet Lucy Shaw. She's not your average fifteen year old - for a start, she's dead. And as if being a ghost wasn't bad enough, she's also trapped haunting the men's toilets on Carnaby Street. So when a lighting engineer called Jeremy walks in and she realises he can see and hear her, she isn't about to let him walk out of her afterlife. Not least until he's updated her on what's happening in her beloved soaps. With Jeremy's help, Lucy escapes the toilet and is soon meeting up with other ghosts, including the perpetually enraged Hep and the snogtastic Ryan. But when Jeremy suggests Lucy track down the man who murdered her, things go down hill. Can Lucy face up to the events of that terrible night? And what will it cost her if she does?
How can I explain that a story about a murdered girl whose spirit is trapped in a Men's toilet is captivating, heart-warming and hysterically funny. Would you believe me?
Written in first person narrative from Lucy's perspective, murdered on New Years Eve doomed to spend eternity haunting the place she was murdered which unfortunately happens to be the male toilets. Lucy has a wonderful snarky voice that I can relate to. Remember I told you sarcasm is my thing. Yet underneath it all you can feel her vulnerability and for want of a better expression 'heart of gold'.
The introduction of Jeremy as the only person who can 'see' Lucy provided a wonderful contrast of personality between the two of them. Lucy a fashion conscious teenager compared to Jeremy a dowdy geography teacher, conjured fabulous pictures in my imagination. Jeremy's initial shock is replaced by his overwhelming kindness and urge to help Lucy move on. The inclusion of the spiritualist church was well thought out and easy to picture; especially the crowd of ghosts trying to get messages to their loved ones.
The typical teenage behaviour woven into the narrative gave the ghosts a true sense of realism including them having their own ghostly phone network. Teenage cliques were encompassed, the mean girl, the goth, the hot boy. Ryan's inclusion as the romantic interest for Lucy rounded the story off beautifully. He helps other spirits cross over partly due to his guilt over his own death, helping rectify any issues left over from their lives before they can achieve resolution. Lucy and Ryan balance each other perfectly.
Although the writing style is fun and humorous it doesn't distract from the emotions evoked at times, especially concerning the loss of a loved one. The portrayal of a parents anguish over losing a child really hit home to me, making me sob. I couldn't imagine losing one of my children, it is unthinkable. The details of Lucy's death were dark/scary/and far too easy to picture.
The depiction of both Hep's and a parents despair showed how easy it is to be overwhelmed with negative feelings; sucked into a void of darkness and despair if you will. This representation conveyed the need for a system of support/help, at one time or another I am sure that we have all needed that extra bit of support/help and we really shouldn't be afraid to show it or ask for it.
I am not going to give away any details but I have to say I totally adored the lovely resolution to the whole plot, a complete roundness to it.
So now do you believe me that a story about a murdered girl whose spirit is trapped in a men's toilets is captivating, heart-warming and funny??
This book was a fantastic debut that had me smiling everytime I thought about it. It made me laugh out loud, fall off the bed, and had me hooked from the very first sentence, "I knew it was time to move on when a tramp peed on my Uggs.." Seriously! This line definitely wins the 'Line of The Year Award'. If there was one! It's short, sweet, and cute, perfect first line!
Fifteen year-old Lucy Shaw is stuck as a ghost, haunting Carnaby Street's public (men's) toilets after being (quite brutally) murdered on her way back from a party. But everything is changed when, Jeremy, an engineer, strolls into the toilets and can actually see and hear her!
Her boring 'hereafter' is suddenly transformed when she finally manages to escape (for a little while at a time though) and meet other ghosts, just like her, including the gorgeous Ryan and distressed Hep!
Lucy is a vibrant, bubbly character with a very loud voice! Her witty observations, and sarcastic remarks make her the girl you wish could be your friend.
This book has everything a book needs, glittery characters, a fantastic plot, and a remarkable sense of humour, on top of the fact that Tamsyn deals with everything in such a light-hearted way, touching on loss, suicide, and even exorcism (!), but in an optimistic way. My So-Called Afterlife is not a depressing story, but a fun mystery, that does reveal some dark truths, but shows us that you can fall in love even if you're dead..and death isn't always necessarily bad, but something, you will have to encounter and deal with, in the cycle of life.
I'm looking forward to reading more books by Tamsyn Murray, including her upcoming, My So-Called Haunting.
Lucy is a regular fifteen-year-old teenager... until the night she dies and finds herself stuck haunting the toilets in Carnaby Street. With no one to talk to, and nothing to do - she can't leave the toilet for some reason - it's safe to say that being a ghost isn't all it's cracked up to be. However one night a man named Jeremy enters the toilet and can see Lucy - it's just a shame he looks like a geography teacher. Jeremy is able to help Lucy though and soon she's able to leave her toilet and meet up with other ghosts including the handsome Ryan. But when Jeremy demands that Lucy help him find her killer, she has to decide if she's ready to face her greatest fear.
I first heard of Tamsyn's book early last year. I thought it sounded incredibly interesting but at the time I didn't read anything other than chick lit so I quickly dismissed it. However, when I finally got into the YA genre I found myself reading more and more reviews for My So-Called Afterlife. I managed to read the first chapter online which I loved but I was hesitant to spend 6Euro on a book that was barely 200 pages long. However the fantastic first line made me purchase the book and I'm so glad I did.
"I knew it was time to move on when a tramp peed on my Uggs," begins My So-Called Afterlife. As far as opening lines go, that's quite a corker. I rarely pay attention to first lines but there are two that have caught my attention recently and the one above is one of them (the other is the opening line to Heaven Can Wait by Cally Taylor). The opening line of My So-Called Afterlife enabled me to quickly get into the spirit of things and to enter into Lucy's world. If six months ago you had told me I'd absolutely adore a book about a ghost, I would have told you to stop talking crazy and yet I find myself, more and more, getting into books that have a paranormal heart.
The fact that Lucy is stuck in a men's toilet provided many laughs, particularly when we first meet Jeremy, the man who ends up helping Lucy enormously. It set the tone for the rest of the book and I enjoyed the rapport between Lucy and Jeremy immensely. I haven't read many ghost stories but I feel like Tamsyn Murray managed to put her own mark on what it means to be a ghost. I thought the way Lucy was able to leave her toilet incredibly interesting as well as what would happen if she wasn't able to keep a hold of what it was she needed to be able to leave the loos.
I thought Lucy made a fantastic young heroine. She was witty and sarcastic and I loved her right from the word go. When Jeremy suggested they try and find Lucy's killer, I felt hugely sympathetic with Lucy's plight and fear of remembering the night of her murder. I actually really loved Jeremy too, despite him looking like a geography teacher. How he handled being able to hear and see a ghost was fantastic and I loved it when he refused to believe Lucy was really a ghost. The entire ghost community whom Lucy gets to meet were also fantastic. Ryan, although a ghost, definitely sounded like a hot ghost (I never thought I'd ever write something like that)! Ryan had an incredibly sad back story and, yet, he still seemed so sweet and relatively upbeat. Hep, a ghost whom Lucy befriends, also has an incredibly sad background and I also really loved her. I actually just wanted to give Hep a hug. The only other character who makes an appearance is another, more unfriendly, ghost Kimberley. She really wasn't very nice to Lucy and I really didn't like her.
Although it may seem that My So-Called Afterlife is relatively light-hearted you will be surprised to learn that it deals with a plethora of teenage issues: death (obviously), suicide, bullying and many more. Murray handles all of those issues incredibly sensitively. Murray's writing is actually quite fantastic. My So-Called Afterlife is immensely easy to read and Lucy's voice easily shines out from the pages. Murray has gotten into the head of a teenager incredibly easily. Even the length of the book didn't bother me. Obviously I could have continued reading about Lucy and co. all day long but the 170+ pages was seemingly the perfect length for the book.
I hugely enjoyed My So-Called Afterlife, it did deal with some serious issues teens face but still manages to be witty and relatively light-hearted. I never thought the murder of a 15-year-old teenager could be so witty, I must say. If you can pick yourself up a copy of My So-Called Afterlife, I urge you to read the first page and see just how quickly this book pulls you in. Believe me, you won't be disappointed!
"I knew it was time to move on when a tramp peed on my Uggs..."
As if being a ghost wasn't bad enough, 15 year-old Lucy Shaw is trapped haunting the mens toilets on Carnaby Street. After 6 months of being completely invisible and seeing things no girl should ever have to witness, she is overjoyed when lighting engineer, Jeremy can not only see her, but hear her too.
And she isn't about to let him go in a hurry! Befriending him she finds someone who is not only prepared to help her pass some long hours by filling her in with the latest celeb gos, but who also helps her find a way to escape the confines of her stinky prison. Out there she finds there's a whole community of ghosts still caught on earth and soon makes friends with emo goth ghost Hep and gorgeous spirit Ryan. But when Jeremy starts to investigate the murder which ended her life, Lucy isn't sure she can face the events of that terrible night and is afraid of what she may loose if she does.
As soon as I read the synopsis on Amazon I knew I really wanted to read this book. From the catchy first line "I knew it was time to move on when a tramp peed on my Uggs..." to the rest of the fascinating premise, I was intrigued! When I was offered the chance to read this book, I jumped at it and I'm pleased to say I was not disappointed.
Lucy is a fantastic character; she is funny, feisty and witty. As an aggrieved teenage ghost, Murray got her voice just right, so she becomes completely believable. I also really liked the other characters too; in particular emo ghost Hep, who captured my heart completely with her sad and touching story.
Trapping Lucy's spirit in the men's toilet was a stroke of genius and allowed for an abundance of humour from the very first page. And it genuinely is laugh out loud funny, but at the same time it's sweet, sad, and joyful. Tamsyn Murray tackles many teen issues throughout the book, including a blossoming romance, bullying, and suicide. I was a little worried how such dark and serious themes could be mixed with humour, but I needn't have as I thought they were done sympathetically and balanced very well.
While at first impressions My So-Called Afterlife sounds simply a fun read, it actually hides more serious messages. Hep's story in particular is one that many teenagers will relate too. Misunderstood and distanced from her parents and bullied at school, the feelings she experiences and remains bitter about are raw and scarily familiar to myself. There is an incredibly touching scene which had me brimming with tears. The book takes a darker twist at one point where exorcism and the occult are investigated slightly and while not scary enough to keep you awake at night, it was completely engrossing.
Stories about death and the afterlife seem to be a big thing in teen reading at the minute, with the publication of Lauren Oliver's Before I fall and the movie of The Lovely Bones hitting the big screens, but My So-Called Afterlife definitely has something fresh and unique about it. I often say about a book I really enjoyed that 'I couldn't put it down' - in this case, I actually didn't! I wasn't even intending to start it right away but after a quick peek at the first page I was hooked and didn't stop until I had devoured the 180 pages . If I had one tiny complaint it would be that it could have been longer as it was over too quickly! However I think this book will appeal to teens who maybe don't read an awful lot, as well as those who do, as the writing is quick paced and engrossing and the size isn't daunting. It's not only a book for teens though, I think anyone who likes a fun, witty and heartfelt story would enjoy My So-Called Afterlife. I loved it, and will be eagerly awaiting Tamsyn's next book, My So-Called Haunting.
~ Other Information ~
My So-Called Afterlife by Tamsyn Murray
Published by Piccadilly Press Feb 2010