I found this book on a best of 2015 SF & Fantasy reads list. What caught my attention about it first was the very unique and somewhat “crazy” premise:
“Wasp's job is simple. Hunt ghosts. And every year she has to fight to remain Archivist. Desperate and alone, she strikes a bargain with the ghost of a supersoldier. She will go with him on his underworld hunt for the long-long ghost of his partner and in exchange she will find out more about his pre-apocalyptic world than any Archivist before her. And there is much to know. After all, Archivists are marked from birth to do the holy work of a goddess. They're chosen. They're special. Or so they've been told for four hundred years.
Archivist Wasp fears she is not the chosen one, that she won't survive the trip to the underworld that the brutal life she has escaped might be better than where she is going. There is only one way to find out.” Plot overview from Amazon.com
A futuristic post-apocalyptic ghost hunting book? Sign me up!
The novel didn’t let me down. The main character is trapped in a situation where she is in a reviled yet respected position in her society passed down by tradition and ritual. The opening of the novel brings home the very bloody and dark ritual: young girls pitted against each other to the death for the title “Archivist” while cheered or jeered by the crowd of townspeople. The current Archivist, Wasp, gained her position by killing the previous holder of the title and there are many “Upstarts” who are quite willing to literally backstab her for the position. Yet, this town full of semi-religious tradition and rituals is not one which Wasp wants or chose. She rejects central tenets of her place in society and works actively to rebel however she can.Her way out comes from an unexpected source: a Ghost. The ghost gives her a mission and a purpose to her life that she had all but given up on.
In this mission, there are many nods to the themes and epic tales of Greek Mythology. Their winding way through the underworld and running from large hungry canines instantly makes one think of Hades. When an upstart or an Archivist loses their life, they are placed with green stones in their mouths to make passage across a bridge. The “Catchkeep” priest that watches her and the upstarts and keeps her in check with violence and intimidation is very often seen chewing on a pear or fruit. This seems to allude to the fruit of the underworld which in Greek Mythology was a pomegranate. Wasp’s disgust with his eating habits helps signify her refusal of the life to which she was forced.
Although I could go on in how it parallels mythology and “feels” like an ancient epic, the Ghost and his story root it in modernity and reality. The more Wasp uncovers this mystery, the less mysterious her world becomes (yet, still retains a lot of mystery and mythology) and the easier her path to a life of one of her own making becomes. I found the novel engaging, epic, and a great read. It's a Young Adult novel, but please don't let that stop you from enjoying a great book if you are one usually averse to YA novels.
– Library Aide Linda: 8/10 review.
We at the Meredith Public Library have this novel in our catalogue (it is currently in Linda’s staff selection shelf) – feel free to check it out today!
The Librarians and Library Aides of the Meredith Public library: Erin, Chris, Matthew, Karen, John, Cherie, Joyce, Jessica, and Linda. Please check out our Staff page for more information.