15-year-old Julie Richardson is the daughter of a witch. She’s training to become as good a witch as her mother. Nevertheless, her mother only wants her to perform magic under her guidance. Julie, however, feels she’s ready to stand on her own.
When Julie and her best friend, Marcus, return home from school, they witness strange paranormal activity going on in the house of an elderly lady. Convinced that it is poltergeist activity, Julie rushes in to try to help the lady. But soon, Julie learns that magic can be dangerous, like her mother said..
Following the poltergeist activity, more and more strange things seem to happen all over town. After a particularly vicious attack at Julie’s high school, her mother steps in to help. In the event, Julie’s mother is hit by the curse Endless Night, which leaves Julie responsible to try to find a cure. In this race against the curse taking full effect, Julie has to discover a lot more about the nature of her witchcraft in a limited period of time. Helped by her friend Marcus, they try to save her mother’s life.
In many ways this book was ver entertaining. Julie is a strong character. Both Marcus and Julie are geeky. They suffer from this in high school, but also learn to stand up for themselves. Especially Marcus was a great addition to the story, as he sticks to his own opinion, but is also very loyal to Julie, which makes that you can’t help but feel sympathy for him.
The story in itself is fast paced and I basically rushed through it. There are a lot of things that I would have loved to learn more about, but the pace of the story never detracted from the quality, I think. Plus, there’s supposed to be a sequel so perhaps we’ll get to view some of the revelations in a little more detail there.
However, despite enjoying these parts of Poltergeeks, there was one thing that bothered me. I cannot really talk about it without revealing the end of the story, so I’m going to paste a big warning here and say: huge spoilers ahead.
In the eventual fall-out of the paranormal activity, it turns out that Julie’s childhood friend and super-beautiful goth girl Marla played a part in the attacks on Julie’s mother, because she is in love with Marcus. So this leaves me with two things that made me just a little angry.. By having the villain be both goth and beautiful, it’s as if all the stereotypes of villain-y high school characters are rolled into one. At first, I was grateful for Marla being both beautiful and goth, as it inverts the whole high school cheerleader stereotype. But then, goths are so often portrayed as evil that I was sadly disappointed that this turned out to be the case here too, whatever the beauty was of Marla and Julie’s former friendship which seemed to defy these very stereotypes. Which brings me to the second point I didn’t like much, and that was the rivalry between Julie and Marla over a boy. I do know that girls, and even friends, experience such rivalry in high school sometimes, but it also rings a lot of feminist alarm bells. Even more so because Marla is portrayed as wanting to go to great lengths in hurting and killing people around her to get the boy she wants. Julie was still a breath of fresh air in this regard, as she didn’t make it all about the boy, and allowed herself to explore and doubt her feelings for Marcus. But still..
end of spoilers
My difficulty with some of the characterisation (especially that of the villains) turned this, in itself quite wonderful book, a little sour. So much so that I postponed writing this post for a few months, because I’m not sure how to feel about it, or if the problems I had with it are legitimate ones to complain about. Please tell me some of you have read it too and would like to discuss it with me.