on 14 June 2014
Poltergeeks offers a fabulously entertaining new take on witches and poltergeists. Julie might be a witch’s daughter, but she’s not qualified to deal with a poltergeist which takes pleasure in throwing helpless old ladies around and destroying school property. A series of supernatural attacks seem to be targeting her family, and Julie and her best friend Marcus are in way over their heads. With her mother’s life now in the balance, Julie has to find a way to save her whilst figuring out her heritage and who her enemy is.
This is fast-paced and entertaining urban fantasy with its fair share of both comic and creepy moments. The characters are vibrant and leap off the pages, from the smart and snarky heroine, Julie, to her geeky and funny best friend Marcus, and their sidekick, a talking dog which actually hosts a spirit. I really like the way magic works in this book; the author takes familiar ideas like ghosts and spells and makes them his own. The constant laugh-out-loud humour in addition to the supernatural goings-on made this a one-sitting read. I’d recommend these books to anyone looking for a fast-paced and witty urban fantasy read packed with inventiveness and humour.
on 9 October 2014
This is not a bad book. It's firmly 2.5 stars, and whilst in earlier times I would've rounded that up to 3, I'm a grumpy old woman now so I'm rounding it down to 2.
This is a wonderfully unpretentious novel - it doesn't take itself too seriously, and seems presented as an escapist read, and that's fair enough. Still, escapism can be difficult to achieve: It has to be light enough to distract the reader from their personal troubles, but with enough heart to actually connect with the reader. And I didn't connect with POLTERGEEKS at all.
Admittedly, magic is not my favourite part of urban fantasy, but I figure that's only because I haven't read the kind of magic that would best suit my logical/scientific inclinations. That's no reason for me to blacklist all novels featuring magic, so I am willing to try instead of giving up completely.
And yes, apathy is often a symptom of my mental illness, but I felt pretty good around the time that I read this (and that's continued since then - so far, so good).
So POLTERGEEKS is squarely middling territory for me: I didn't particular like it, but I didn't particular dislike it, either.
Reportedly these two POLTERGEEKS books aren't selling as well as the author's self-published adult novels. And I don't really think that has anything to do with this duology being traditionally published (by the now-closed Strange Chemistry) and young adult. Maybe it's just that this book doesn't really appeal.
That said I still plan to read the sequel, STUDENT BODIES. After all, maybe it is my fault for failing to connect with POLTERGEEKS, and it's only fair to give a second chance.
on 8 August 2013
Poltergeeks is the story of Julia Richardson, a teenage witch. It runs in the family, and while they aren't part of a coven, Julia and her mother get by just fine by themselves. That is until, one day, Julia steps in to stop a poltergeist from terrorising one of her neighbours, and in doing so sets off a chain of events that not only lead to danger and tragedy, but also to discovery, and the reason behind her mother's often strict rules on Julia and her use of magic.
Sean Cummings has taken a pretty straight forward - and often overdone - trope and shined it up real good, being rather clever, and working well on many levels. While this is a YA novel, it edges towards the older crowd, and with the main protagonist a 15 year old girl going through many life changing events because of her heritage, it's nice to see them handled well. Julia is a headstrong young woman, and while at many points she goes through with plans that she really shouldn't, they're not done in haste. With her best friend, Marcus, at her side, Cummings allows their relationship to often carry the story without resorting to dragging it out. It's quick and punchy, and does exceedingly well for it.
Julia and Marcus are, without a doubt, the highlight of the novel. The chemistry between them easily carries the story at a quick pace, entertaining you as the plot progresses. It's nice to see them both as fully fleshed out characters, each with distinct personalities and quirks, and each complementing the other very well. The character depth doesn't stop with the main protagonists, but carries on throughout the cast. Perhaps there were moments that could have been explored a little more, but the urgency of the plot allows these to be pushed to one side to be examined later on, and hopefully in future instalments.
One of the main points I was worried about would be the explanations of the use of magic. Rather than bore the reader with long and in-depth info-dumping and history, Cummings delivers everything you need to know within the story. It once again adds to the ease with which Poltergeeks can be read, and is very appealing to anyone not wanting to be bogged down with a slow-moving narrative.
In short, Poltergeeks is a quick, easy, and enjoyable read with characters that make the story. The plot is interesting and quirky, with surprises in store throughout. A recommended read.
on 17 November 2012
Sean Cummings writing style was the first thing that grabbed me when I started reading. It flows naturally, and perfectly encompasses Julie's character including her sassiness, wit and outspoken teen voice. It reads so naturally like a teenager that I instantly got a sense of what Julie's personality was like and I loved her.
Although I guessed pretty much from the outset what was coming at the end, I'm not sure if this was down to my extra good guessing abilities or easy to read plot/characters. Despite this there were still a few twists and surprises that threw me so that I still enjoyed the ending, and the plot overall was energetic and action packed. The premise behind the story has so much potential and I can see Julie getting into a whole host of adventures, or misadventures, in future books and I think it would work so well as a TV series.
The magical elements bring the story to life, with the grimoire passed down to Julie, her mother's collection of unusual smelling concoctions, the shadowcull legacy and don't forget a bit of grave digging.
After Julie, I liked Marcus the best. Because he provides the 'reasonable' and scientific perspective. He tries to fit magic into science and his understanding of the physical world, remains a little sceptical, but also makes steps to believing some of the crazy things that are happening around him.
Although it hadn't really crossed my mind at the time, Non at Catnip, pointed out how well the content and style for Poltergeeks would be appropriate for a younger Middle Grade age range. I think younger audiences would really relate to Julie, the confusing situation she is in with Marcus and their changing relationship. Although she's not popular in school, she is quirky, quick-witted and completely herself. For young girls I think she shines as a role model.
Poltergeeks is a sassy, funny, and thrilling YA debut.
on 13 October 2012
4½ Out of 5
"I'm a girl. I'm a witch. Someone is going to pay..."
Life's never been normal for Julie - after all she is the daughter of a witch - but even she isn't used to old ladies being shot out of their houses by an invisible and powerful force, right before her eyes.
Obviously, there's something of the supernatural nature going on here.
But what Julie was expecting was a (not so) harmless poltergeist. Not some big, dark force that tries to kill her best friend (multiple times), attacks her school and sends her mom into some kind of a magic-induced coma.
With guilt overwhelming her and desperation to save her mother driving her on, Julie knows she must find out who's behind the magical attacks.
Because time is running out.
And Julie will not lose her mom...
When a book is called "Ghostbusters meets Sabrina The Teenage Witch with a dash of X-Files" by an author I know and love (Sara Grant, Dark Parties), I simply have to get my supernatural-loving-hands on it. And Poltergeeks so did not let me down! With an awesome set of characters, witty writing, suspense and funny stuff, Poltergeeks had me hooked from the very first word to the very last. It was just so much fun and the perfect supernatural read! I can't wait for Book Two!
I loved Julie - she was brilliant, sassy, snarky and stubborn. I loved her sense of humour - she killed me! - but even more, I loved that even though she's a kick- ass witch, she's also really down to earth and relatable too. And Marcus was just the best friend ever! He was so nerdy and cute and sweet, so loyal and just adorable! He really was the bestest bud a girl could ever have! And the friendship between them was so sweet and strong and real. I loved watching them together - Marcus was such a sweetheart and so supportive - and watching how close they were - and how they get closer: it was the sweetest!
I adored the main characters, but there was an awesome supporting cast too. Such as the cryptic Betty (with the dreadful fashion sense) and the creepy Holly Penske (also cryptic). But who I really loved was one grave-yard-bound ghost. And, of course, Julie's mom - she was awesome and just the best mom ever. Even if she wasn't in the book all that much. And I loved the relationship between Julie and her Mom - so often in teen books, the parents are just the annoying force to rebel against, and such. Julie did a bit of rebelling, but her and her mom were really close and always took care of one another.
I've got to admit, parts of the book reminded me a little of The Mortal Instruments - the geeky best mate who's secretly crushing on the lead gal, the mother in a supernatural coma, the red hair. And as soon as said lead gal found out X, she seemed to know a heck of a lot. Instantly. But really, I just didn't care. Because I loved Cummings's sense of humour - his witty writing just had me cracking up! It was so teen and so snarky! And I totally fell in love with Julia's voice. I'm so impressed that a guy can write such a unique and authentic teen girl - I loved it! As for the plot? Awesome! Full of action, mystery and humour, it had me gripped from start to finish. I loved unravelling all the various secrets and watching Julie track down the bad guy, kicking butt with witchy powers as she did. I did guess the final twist, but I really was enjoying it all too much to care! The plot was just so awesome and action-movie-like. Speaking of, it needs to be made into a movie - it would kick butt!
Plus, I loved all the supernatural stuff in this book. All the ghosts and witches and potions and spells. And I loved all the politics of the witchy world - these were so cool to read about!
A book as kickass as Buffy and as magical as Charmed, Poltergeeks totally blew me away. A book that had me laughing one minute and practically gnawing on my nails at the suspense the very next second, I am officially classing it as a Must Read for all paranormal fans! It was so awesomely epic and as I mentioned earlier would just make the most amazing movie ever! I simply can't wait for the next in the series - it's going to be so awesome!
Ok, off topic now, I do love covers - the prettier the better - but I really don't get where some of them come from. Like the gorgeous Victorian dresses on the covers of books set in the 21st century. But Poltergeeks? Not only is the cover gorgeous, dramatic and so unique, it's also showing an actual scene from the book! No dramatic, ancient, Gothic dress or weird pose, just an awesome cover that so fits the book.
on 27 September 2012
15 year old Julie Richardson is a witch. Her mother doesn't let her do much magic but when her elderly neighbour is turfed out of her home by a poltergeist, she can't just stand back and do nothing. With her best friend Marcus in tow, she starts to investigate and soon things are spiralling out of control. Dark magic abounds but who is behind it?
Poltergeeks takes the standard high school clichés and adds a dash of magic. There's the normal girl who stands on the outskirts and her geeky best friend who she is oblivious to when it comes to his feelings. And of course, there is the jock bully who picks on the geeks and freaks. The rest of the story is pure urban fantasy tailored to a younger reader. I do think that some of it is a bit obvious and for this reason it would appeal to the younger end of the YA market, but it's still a fun read for any age, with down to earth, sassy characters and a hint of humour.
What I really enjoyed was the role of Julie's mother. So often in YA, the parents are absent or cardboard cut outs who serve little purpose. Here Mrs Richardson is a real mother, who may annoy Julie with her strictness but is there for her as a sensible role model. When something bad happens to her, you want her to be OK because she is such a good mum.
I sort of need a two-tier rating for this book. For me personally, it's a little young, but I do really rate it for teens and even younger.
on 14 May 2013
In Julie's life, paranormal beings aren't unusual. Seeing her elderly neighbour thrown from her house by a poltergeist, is. When she and her best friend, Marcus, intervene, Julie knows she is in way over her head. Julie's mother is furious when she finds out Julie didn't call for her help, and makes her promise not to do it again. But when a full on assault on Julie's school has the place falling down around her, there isn't a moment to lose. Unfortunately, it is Julie's impatience that gets her mother hurt.
Now it's a race against time to stop the malevolent force wreaking havoc in her town and not just to save her mother, but to save her very soul.
Poltergeeks was a thrilling read, with my eyes struggling to read as fast as they could. It is a very short time frame in the book, and the author manages to pack in plenty of action and keep the suspense building.
Julie is a likeable character, and she carries the story well. I enjoyed her interactions with Marcus and their budding romance. I thought the confusion over her feelings were well written and believeable.
Poltergeeks will appeal to a wide audience, drawing in fans of the paranormal and action, and a gentle hint of romance. This is a very visual book and it would make a brilliant movie, sort of hybrid of a tamer version of The Craft and Poltergeist.
on 25 October 2012
Hmm, largely a very enjoyable read. The plot was perfect for this time of year (or any time of year come to that), humorous and full of adventure with some great twists, the characters, both main and supporting, living and dead, entertaining (I especially loved Betty in all her various guises) and the mix between the paranormal and everyday teenage stuff perfect ..... why then the slight reservation?
Whilst on the whole well written, I think the author got the balance between atmospherically spooky and too scary perfectly, I do however have some issues with his portrayal of main character, Witch-in-training, Julie.
Not overly convinced that Mr Cummings always managed to get into the head of a 15 year old girl. Some of Julie's speech just wasn't convincing, at times (dare I say it?) even sounding as if it was written as how a middle-aged-man expected a teenage girl to speak which of course (though I'm guessing at Cumming's age) it was.
Not perhaps one of the classics of this genre but I do think Poltergeeks has lots to recommend it as an alternative read to many of the already 'witch' novels out there.
Poltergeeks (Strange Chemistry)
on 23 November 2012
I set the bar pretty high for Poltergeeks before I turned the first page. Due to a combination of the title, blurb and a lot of really great reviews. Poltergeeks is book 1 and because of that you're left with a lot of `set up' for what's to come. Having said that, I hasten to add that there are a lot of good points about this book:
Firstly it's a complete story, yes you know it's not finished but you don't reach the final page and feel cheated. Secondly there are some really awesome characters in there, Julie, Marcus, Betty! I love Betty. Thirdly, the writing. The first chapter is one of the best I've read all year.
I'm not sure why I didn't love this as much as expected, because there is so much about Poltergeeks that I think it brilliant. The twist was not particularly twisty in my opinion but I did have some laugh out loud moments, like the graveyard and pretty much everything involving Betty.
I'll be continuing with the Poltergeeks books, the combination of great characters and clever writing guarantees that.
on 4 October 2012
I loved this book. Julie's narrative is so beautifully 'sarcastic teen', you can hear her eyes roll. She's smart and powerful and has a geeky male best friend with no supernatural powers - marvellous! There is other teen stuff going on - school, relationships, romance - but the supernatural quest and associated battles are the main point of the story. It's also cool to see the main character's family relationships be important to the plot, as the main quest is to save her mother, with whom she has a complicated - and therefore realistic - relationship.
Julie and Marcus are brilliant characters, very easy to get behind and cheer for, and that is a key strength of this book. Sean Cummings has created a convincing set of characters who operate in a way that has emotional realism, helping us to suspend disbelief for the fantasy plot they're embroiled in to work. The humour is another important factor in this book's success, coming both from implausible and humorous scenarios (hello, cat ejected via chimney in the first scene) and from Julie's snarky commentary on events.
The plot is tightly-constructed, making it complex and satisfying and yet easy to follow. There is clearly more to know about the world of witchcraft that Julie inhabits, but we are drip-fed enough info to make sense of this particular adventure and to wonder where the next instalment will take us.
Overall, I'd definitely recommend this to YA fantasy and urban fantasy fans, particularly those who appreciate sarcastic heroines and geeky boy sidekicks.