THE WEIGHT OF SOULS by Byrony Pearce
The Weight of Souls has an interesting conceit: the main character, Taylor Oh, is cursed. The ghosts of murder victims have the ability to touch her and transfer a Mark to her that will kill her in three weeks, more or less, unless she can transfer it to the murderer. When I read the summary of the book, I was fascinated, thinking the character was going to have to be part sleuth and part action hero.
That’s not quite what you get here, and I have to admit that I was a little bummed. The novel is more a blend of romance and teen angst. Taylor is one of the ostracized at school because she doesn’t fit in. She’s always disappearing from school, ditching her friends, and in general not a happy person.
I was hoping for a little more Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Scooby-Doo.
As it turns out, one of Taylor’s most aggravating enemies at school is a guy who she’s also attracted to. If that isn’t enough of a struggle, he turns up dead and touches her, transferring the Mark to her. Only he doesn’t remember being murdered. At first, he doesn’t even think he’s dead.
The solution to his murder turns out to be really quite simple, but the author overcomplicates the situation by throwing in a social status club with “truth or dare” challenges to gain prestige among the members. Belonging to the club also transfers immediate popularity to anyone who joins, which is demonstrated in the book but not to my satisfaction.
The V Club has also been around for a while. One of the members is a school teacher and another is a policeman. A lot of this stuff is hinted at, although we don’t really know where the V Club came from or why it’s even in place. As far as I’ve been able to tell, there’s no supernatural anchor for the club, no real menace to it (other than present members), but there’s a lot of drama about it.
There’s also the Book of Oh-Fa, the story of the first member in Taylor’s family who ends up with the curse, which tracks back to an Egyptian Tomb and archeologists more intent on robbing riches than in preserving history.
A lot of things get mixed into this book and although I could keep them sorted pretty easily, I also didn’t see how all the various plot lines would eventually tie in. Since this is the first book in a series, I reached the end of the novel and still don’t know.
Taylor’s dad figures into the plot a lot too, and he brings a twisty kind of science to the tale which jarred me. It just didn’t seem to fit in with the other supernatural overtones. He also irritated me because he was by turns an overbearing father and a protector. He flipped from one to the other on a dime, and I didn’t understand how he could continue to disbelieve his wife’s stories about the curse. Especially after it manifested in his daughter.
I’ll check out the second book when it comes out because the overall plot and character interest me, but I’m hoping for some concrete development that will tie some of these elements together.