Saturday 20 February 2010

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Review: My So-Called Afterlife by Tamsyn Murray

My So-Called Afterlife by Tamsyn MurrayMy So-Called Afterlife by Tamsyn Murray (review copy) - "I knew it was time to move on when a tramp peed on my Uggs..." Meet Lucy Shaw. She's not your average fifteen year old - for a start, she's dead. And as if being a ghost wasn't bad enough, she's also trapped haunting the men's toilets on Carnaby Street. So when a lighting engineer called Jeremy walks in and she realises he can see and hear her, she isn't about to let him walk out of her afterlife. Not least until he's updated her on what's happening in her beloved soaps. With Jeremy's help, Lucy escapes the toilet and is soon meeting up with other ghosts, including the perpetually enraged Hep and the snogtastic Ryan. But when Jeremy suggests Lucy track down the man who murdered her, things go down hill. Can Lucy face up to the events of that terrible night? And what will it cost her if she does?
A wonderful debut novel which, as well as being laugh-out-loud funny, is full of insights, compassion, and love.
From Amazon UK

When this book arrived, I was really looking forward to reading. A paranormal with a protagonist who had a sense of humour; what could be better? When I read a few reviews that sang My So-Called Afterlife’s praises, I decided it would be the next book I would read, and was excited to get to it. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be what I had expected.

The positives first. My So-Called Afterlife is a really sweet story, where issues of death, murder, and, on a small scale, bullying are dealt with. It has its light moments, with Lucy’s sarcastic sense of humour and her continual digs at Jeremy, and the romance between Lucy and Ryan, but it also has darker moments with Jeremy trying to find out who murdered Lucy. I did like the world building for the ghosts; how they could leave the places they haunted, how they were able to move things, how you could still text in the afterlife, and how a ghost could pass on. It was pretty neat!

Ryan is such a sweet guy, and my favourite scene in the book is when he sings Unintended by Muse at a party. It’s just the cutest scene ever, and even made me look the song up and give it a listen – not bad! Jeremy is a little bit of a weed, not the most charismatic or interesting guy going, but his heart is in the right place, and really wants to help Lucy. Lucy herself, as I said, is pretty funny, and does come out with some brilliant one-liners at times. I felt really sorry for Hep, but I wasn’t a big fan.

However, I did think there could be more. It had so much potential, but there were parts I found a little disappointing. I think this book is aimed more for the younger YA audience than the older, and that’s why there wasn’t more. The story just didn’t seem all that believable to me. For any type of fantasy, you have to just go with it, and accept any of the fantasy elements, and that I don’t have trouble with. It’s the actual realistic elements I had trouble with. I would have liked there to have been more tension between Ryan and Lucy before they got together, or more moments of them alone together. Jeremy, who is 27, didn’t question his sanity enough for me, and I didn’t understand why he spent most of his free time trying to help Lucy and hanging out with ghosts; what happened to his own life? I think there could have been more to Hep’s storyline too, I understood the reason for everything to do with her, but the situation she was in is such a big deal, and I felt it seemed a little underplayed. I would say the same of Lucy’s murder. It seems to me that some of this is to make it less scary, or so it’s not too much, for those younger readers it’s aimed for.

None of this makes it a bad story, it wasn’t. I’m sure there are a lot of people who would really enjoy My So-Called Afterlife, and that’s shown through the number of positive reviews out there. It just seems that I’m not a fan of the younger end of the YA spectrum. However, My So-Called Afterlife is a sweet story, and does ask some interesting questions on what happens after death, and it’s a great book for younger readers! Be sure to check out other reviews before making a decision on this book. It wasn't my cup of tea, but it might be yours. My So-Called Haunting, a companion novel, following new characters, will be Tamsyn Murray’s second novel, so look out for it.

Thank you to Piccadilly Press for the review copy.

Published: 1st February 2010 in the UK, 26th February 2010 in the US
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Buy on Amazon UK
Pre-order on Amazon US
Tamsyn Murray’s Website

Other Reviews:
Book Zone


  1. Thanks for an honest and balanced review Jo. I may still read this as it is a debut novel and it sounds like light-hearted fun. I think my students might enjoy it.

  2. No problem! Oh, it's definiely worth a read, there are some great moments as I said. I hope you enjoy it - and I hope you're students do, too! :)

  3. This does sound like a sweet story but I don't think it will be one for me. Thanks for the honest review though - it's helped me make up my mind :o)

  4. It's no problem! I still say you should try reading a few other reviews, too. Their reviews may change your mind!

  5. OO That stinks...

    I might still read it..Love a honest review!

  6. Oh, do! I really hope you enjoy it! :)

  7. Hmm, great honest review. It sounds good but maybe not for me :)

    oodles of books.

  8. Thanks! I'd suggest you checking out other reviews before writing off completely. A few others have really liked it!