Monday, May 19, 2014

Review of 'Ride of Your Life' by Shevi Arnold

Ride of Your Life
By- Shevi Arnold 

Seventeen-year-old Tracy Miller met the love of her life . . . thirty years after her own death. 

Tracy was working at the House of Horrors at the Amazing Lands Theme Park when the fire broke out. Instead of running, she lost her life trying to save eleven-year-old Mack. Now thirty years have passed, and suddenly everything changes with the arrival of two new ghosts: a little girl named Ashley and a cute, seventeen-year-old boy named Josh. Josh would do anything for Tracy, but can he help her let go of the past?   

Ride of Your Life is a bittersweet, romantic, YA ghost story that was inspired by a true event, the Great Adventure Haunted Castle fire, which killed eight teenagers in 1984, exactly thirty years ago this May 11th. It is a fantasy novel about undying love, and it won third-place in Smart Writer’s Write It Now (W.I.N.) contest in the YA category, which was judged by Alex Flinn, the author of Beastly and Cloaked.

Hang on. Love can be as terrifying as a roller coaster, but it can also be the Ride of Your Life.

Additional information about the Six Flags Great Adventure Haunted Castle fire-



**My thoughts**

It's sad that this story was inspired by real events, but what a lovely thought, that those who have moved on may still be around on some level, helping those who have recently passed over. 

Tracy and Mack have made it their afterlife's goal to take care of the newbies. Okay, so it is more Tracy who has a compelling need to take care of the ghosts. Josh also seems to have a big heart, as he died trying to save Ashley. Ashley is just a sweet little girl who died in a freak accident. Mack is a troubled tween who has found more love and affection in the afterlife than he ever had in real life. The bond between these kids is heartwarming, especially because in real life, they probably would have never bonded. I like how even in the afterlife, one can grow and mature. I even like the idea of a little romance.

I liked the unique setting of an amusement park as the "waiting area" to go to Heaven. I liked the creativity in how the ghost kids made themselves comfortable as they found new ways to carry on their new afterlives. It made me wonder what I would do, should I get stuck somewhere like that after I die. And in a weird way, it did make me crave visiting an amusement park once again. I grew up with Cedar Point and had fun imagining what it would be like to run around there, without being seen.

All in all, a fun YA romance with a bit of adventure, that would be a great summer read.

And here is an excerpt from 'Ride of Your Life' -

They started with the arcade. The virtual reality games were most popular with the living, but they required wearing goggles, which meant ghosts couldn’t enjoy them without going into a living person. Still, Josh and Tracy could play almost all the other games. She reached into her back pocket and pulled out a handful of quarters.
“How did you get those?” Josh shouted over the loud music.
“I knew I had them, so they were there.” Tracy put a quarter into a pinball machine. The ghost version of the machine woke up with lights, dings and electronic music. The score returned to zero, and a silver ball slid down the chute, ready to be launched. She moved to the side and offered the game to Josh.
He reached out to grab the plunger, but he didn’t bring his hand down. Instead it remained open, palm down, a few inches above the plunger. Tracy could tell he was having doubts, and doubts weren’t good. Everything in the ghost world depended on what you believed. If he didn’t believe he could play the game, it wouldn’t work.   
“Don’t worry,” she said. “It’s real. You’re real. You just have to believe it, and everything you think is supposed to happen will happen.”
But Josh’s hand still hovered above the plunger. Tracy slowly brought her hand on top of his and gently pressed it down. She curled his fingers around the plunger, pulled back, and released. The ball went flying. Josh reached for the buttons on the sides of the game, setting the ghost flippers in motion. He was playing, just as he would have been when he was alive.
“Thanks,” he said. “I don’t know why I thought this would be hard.”
“You’re welcome,” she shouted above the noise. “The principle is the same for most of the games here, but it’s easier to play the less popular games. Less interference.”
“Were you always able to do this?”
“I don’t know.” Tracy almost laughed. “They only put the arcade in a few years ago. I played this machine right after they installed it. Mack would tell you that’s one of the perks of being a ghost here. When things are under construction, you get dibs.”
They played a dozen different games in the arcade, sometimes together and sometimes taking turns. Then Tracy checked someone’s watch and realized they only had a little over an hour left to see the rest of Cyber City before the park closed.
She took Josh to the spaceship-styled restaurant and then the Space Bar. A live band was playing new-age music there. Josh asked about karaoke, and Tracy explained that it ended every night at eight o’clock. Luckily, they had missed it. They skipped the virtual reality rides and the roller coaster, but rode the other rides. They rode the Silver Wheel with a woman and her daughter, and Josh jokingly tried to make a bet with Tracy on whether they would make out. Finally they entered the 3D multi-media theater just in time for the last showing of the night.       
The movie was about a spaceship crashing on a strange planet where a new danger suddenly appeared every few seconds. It wasn’t much of a plot, but it utilized the 3D and other effects well. Bubbles, sparkling confetti, and a mist of water fell on the audience from above, while lights flashed on the sides of the theater, and dry ice created fog below. Lasers occasionally flashed overhead. The audience smiled, gasped, and jumped out of their seats. Josh and Tracy stood in the aisle and watched the movie, but the picture—designed for 3D glasses—showed two images at once.
“Can’t we make ghost copies of the glasses?” Josh asked.
“We can,” Tracy explained. “But it’s kind of the opposite of walking through a glass door.”
“In what way?”
“You can easily walk through a glass door, because you can imagine nothing is there. But when you look through the lenses of these glasses, you can’t see that they’re 3D ones. They just look like clear plastic.”
“So . . . when you make a ghost copy, it only has clear plastic instead of the kind needed for 3D?”
Josh looked around. “But we can see the movie if we get inside someone who’s watching it, right?”
He ran his fingers through his hair. “Let’s do it.”
“What?” Tracy almost laughed. “No, you don’t want to do that.”
“I do.”
“It’s hard.”
“Then show me how.”
“I don’t know . . .”
She looked around and tried to find a suitable couple, one that matched them in height. A tall, middle-aged man and a slightly short woman sat almost at the exact center of the room. Tracy pointed at them. “First we have to get over there, and that means going through some legs. You up to it?”
“Can you walk me through it?” He laughed. “Sorry, bad pun.”
“At least you found it funny.” She paused to think. “There are two ways we can do this: Mack’s way or mine.”
“I’m probably going to regret asking this, but what’s Mack’s way?”
“Mack accepts that he’s a ghost. He tells himself that ghosts can walk through stuff, so it’s not a problem for him.”
“And your way?”
“My way is to tell myself that everything around me isn’t real.”
Josh tilted his head. “Isn’t it?”
“No, it’s not.”  This was hard to explain, but she had to try. “It’s real for living people, but not for us. We can sort of fade it out. What I do is choose to fade out some things while holding onto some other things. In this case, I would fade out the people who are sitting in the seats over here, but I wouldn’t fade out the theater, the floor, my body, or the people I’m trying to get to.”
“Oh.” Josh paused. “I think I might have done that already by accident.”
“What? When?”
“When I went out with Mack. He left me for . . . a few minutes. Everything stopped seeming real. Then it all kind of blurred.”
“That’s it, but you have to hold onto the reality of something. Body, theater, floor, and the couple in the middle. Think you can do it?”
Josh nodded. “Let’s do this.”
Tracy went first. She told herself the people sitting in the seats that blocked their path weren’t real. They faded away, and she walked up to the couple in the middle. She turned to see how Josh was doing. He looked at her. Then he walked straight without taking his eyes off her and stopped at her side.
“You know,” he said, “there’s a third way of doing this.”
“There is?”
“I let everything else slip away and just focused on you.”
Tracy half smiled, but turned away to avoid showing it. “Okay, that was the easy part. Now we have to go inside these people, and we have to match all their movements, particularly their eyes. It’s . . . kind of creepy, really. Makes my skin crawl. Anyway, it’s like a dance. The living person is your partner, and you have to follow your partner. Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Sure, I’m ready to dance with you anytime.”
She rolled her eyes. “How about with this guy over here?”
“Yes, I’m ready.”
“’Cause if you’re not—”
“I’m ready.”
“Okay . . .”
She stepped into the women’s feet. The woman was wearing sneakers with short socks. The woman’s feet must have been hot, but it was smarter to wear sneakers to the park than sandals, because of all the walking and standing in line. That was why Tracy always wore sneakers when she was working there: white ones to get to work, black ones while she was working indoors. She couldn’t wear white sneakers in the House of Horrors because they would have glowed in the blue light, and she couldn’t wear her black sneakers in the sun because they would get too hot. The woman didn’t compromise comfort for fashion. Tracy liked that.  
She sat down in the woman’s lap. She brought her hand down to the woman’s hand. Thin fingers, and a wedding ring. Tracy took a deep breath, as if she were about to go underwater, and slid into the woman’s body and head. She flowed with the woman’s movements, keeping her eyes always in sync with the woman’s eyes. This dance of ghost body and living body felt so weird. Tracy couldn’t wait until it was over, but in the meanwhile she would try her best to enjoy watching the movie through 3D glasses, as it was meant to be seen.  
She couldn’t see Josh, because the woman was staring straight at the screen. Then Tracy felt someone graze the woman’s hand. The woman glanced at her hand and then turned to look at the man. Tracy could see Josh floating inside him, only slightly above the surface. Josh’s curly dark hair sat on the man’s bald head. Tracy was impressed. Josh was a pretty good ghost dancer for someone who had never done this before.
The woman turned her hand over, and the man wrapped his fingers around hers. Then he leaned in close. The woman leaned in, too, and the man and woman kissed.
Tracy felt her heart race. Or was it the woman’s? No, it was definitely hers. The kiss lasted a long time. Laser beams shot across the room. The man and woman pulled apart, but Tracy’s heart continued to race.

When the movie finished, Tracy and Josh walked slowly back to the room in the first-aid office. Josh no longer paid attention to where the people were walking, and didn’t flinch when someone ran through him. He just stared at Tracy and smiled.

About the Author-
Shevi Arnold grew up in Philadelphia, and her family had a season pass to Great Adventure in the early 1980s. She was nineteen-years-old and studying overseas when a fellow college student asked her if she had heard about the Great Adventure Haunted Castle fire. Eight teenagers had lost their lives. Like many, Shevi was shocked by the news. In her mind, she wanted to give that tragedy a happy ending. Ride of Your Life is the result.

Shevi loves writing, illustrating, and making people laugh—and she’s been doing all three since 1987 when she started working as an editorial cartoonist for a newsweekly. She’s also worked as a comics magazine editor, as an arts-and-entertainment writer specializing in comedy and children’s entertainment, and as a consumer columnist. Nowadays, though, she enjoys writing (and sometimes illustrating) humorous fiction, fantasy, and science fiction for children, teens, and geeks of all ages. Her other books include Toren the Teller's Tale, Dan Quixote: Boy of Nuevo Jersey, and Why My Love Life Sucks (The Legend of Gilbert the Fixer, book one). She is currently working on Why It Still Mega Bites, the second book in the Gilbert the Fixer series.


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