Bliss by Lauren Myracle
(Amulet Books, Hardcover)
Bliss has lived on a commune with her hippie parents for most of her life. Then her parents decide they want to flee to Canada and they drop Bliss off in Georgia at her grandmother's house. Georgia in 1969 is full of talk about integration and the Manson murders. Bliss is excited about making friends at her new high school, but when she arrives, she starts to hear voices. A voice that pulls her towards the abandoned third floor of a building and that speaks of a long ago death.
As Halloween looms near, I found that Bliss was the perfect spooky treat. Part horror, part ghost story, this book pulled me in from the beginning. Bliss, as a main character, was instantly likable. Having lived on a commune for most of her life, Bliss was used to honesty and courtesy. Not exactly how you would describe high school. So Bliss stands up for her beliefs and engages in some entertaining internal sarcastic dialogue as she navigates the halls of Crestview Academy. Skip to the horror part. Bliss hears the voice of a dead girl whenever she walks near one of the buildings on campus. Bliss' new friend Sandy has a sick fascination with the occult and with breaking the rules. At the beginning of each chapter is a pop-culture quote from the late 60s, early 70s. Some of these are funny quotes from The Andy Griffith Show, while others are creepy quotes from the Charles Manson murder trial. The quotes added an eerie quality to the book, disorienting the reader by intermittently offering humor, horror, gossip, and time period information. I did get a little tired of these interruptions by the end of the book. It was a device that could have been used more sparingly, at least for me. The book, however, does not disappoint in the horror element. Bad things happen. Relationships are tested and left wanting. Scary ghosts come to life. And the ending is downright chilling. Perfect for reading on a dark and stormy night...
Bliss has been nominated for the 2008 Cybils Awards in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category.