Anton is by no means keen on hunting ghosts. In fact, the only reason he is taking up the Marin family business is because he wants to appease his dad. Of course, this gap year in ghost town is open season for adventure, humour, and an unlikely friendship.
Michael Pryor’s Gap Year in Ghost Town takes the classic paranormal story arc — various worlds colliding and other-worldly beings wreaking havoc — and transforms it into a rather refreshing coming-of-age narrative. Anton, the hilariously relatable protagonist from Melbourne, narrates with wit reminiscent of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series: an amalgamation of punchy one-liners backgrounded by a very sarcastic character ensemble, which includes Anton’s father, his dear friend Bec, and mysterious newcomer Rani, who coincidentally hunts ghosts for competing business Company of the Righteous.
Though some readers may find that the plot lacks heart-stopping thrill, the intriguing premise of teenagers taking on different types of ghosts — friendly ghosts, violent ghosts, weepy ghosts — and battling the ideas with which they’ve been brought up is sure to engage readers of any level. The language itself is accessible and funny, the plot is action-packed sprinkled with a lot of relationship building, the characters are endearing and strong role models for younger readers.
Moreover, the book is set in Melbourne, Australia, which is rather refreshing. With a large share of the young adult — and specifically young adult fantasy and paranormal genres — residing in the United States, it is a welcome surprise that readers can explore the suburbs of Melbourne with Anton. It is blatantly obvious that Pryor grew up in the same areas that Anton did: the intricate detail and familiarity with which the Melburnian streets and buildings are described create a literary fluency that is arguably missing in a lot of literature about Australia. Along with this fluency in place setting, Pryor succeeds in including nods to time setting, with pop culture and technology references galore:
What the twenty-first-century ghost hunter needs is pretty much what a twenty-first-century guy needs. I have a phone charger, my pro standard GPS unit, a water bottle, a book and an e-reader just in case I finish my books. Can’t be without a book… Waiting = reading.
Indeed, waiting = reading. However, don’t wait around to read Gap Year in Ghost Town: the novel offers endless entertainment, perfect for any time, any mood, and any reader!
A special thank you to Allen & Unwin for generously providing a review copy!
Did you love Gap Year in Ghost Town as much as we did? Tell us your favourite parts on Twitter @Fuzzable!