Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ghost of Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

Ghost of Spirit Bear

Ben Mikaelsen

Alone in the wilderness, Cole found peace.

But he's not alone anymore.

Cole Matthews used to be a violent kid, but a year in exile on a remote Alaskan island has a way of changing your perspective. After being mauled by a Spirit Bear, Cole started to heal. He even invited his victim, Peter Driscal, to join him on the island and they became friends.

But now their time in exile is over, and Cole and Peter are heading back to the one place they're not sure they can handle: high school. Gangs and violence haunt the hallways, and Peter's limp and speech impediment make him a natural target. In a school where hate and tension are getting close to the boiling point, the monster of rage hibernating inside Cole begins to stir.

Ben Mikaelsen's riveting saga of survival and self-awareness continues in the sequel to his gripping Touching Spirit Bear. This time, he weaves a tale of urban survival where every day is a struggle to stay sane. As the problems in his school grow worse, Cole realizes that it's not enough just to change himself. He has to change his world.

Genres:  Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

Publication Date: June 17, 2006

Pages: 160

Series: Spirit Bear (book 2)

My Rating: 3 stars

There are spoilers for the original book in this review.

I gave this book three stars because it was a nice little book in its own right, but compared to Touching Spirit Bear, I thought this one really missed the mark. So this review may make me seem like I hated Ghost of Spirit Bear, but that really isn't true. I just hated it in comparison to Touching Spirit Bear.

In my opinion, there were two major things that made Touching Spirit Bear so good; watching Cole slowly change from an angry delinquent to an actually likeable person, and the survivalist aspect.

This book has neither of those aspects. Unless, of course, one considers navigating a rough high school 'survivalist.' I suppose they could be compared (high school bullies vs. surviving the wilderness after a bear mauls you; they both kinda suck) , but there is still no way it could be classified in the genre.

No, instead of trying to survive alone with civilization nowhere in sight, instead of seeing the Spirit bear, Cole (and his new best friend Peter) are trying to stop bullies and gangs at their school and also campaign for a new school mascot. Okay, as a standalone I wouldn't mind that plot. In fact, I thought this book's storyline had a really good theme and it managed to keep my interest. But this is a sequel. A sequel to a really great book. And this plot really had nothing on the first.

Also, yes, the plot for Touching Spirit Bear got a bit unbelievable at the end. Even Ben Mikaelsen basically admitted that in his author's note, if I remember correctly. The unbelievable aspect of the plot that I am talking about? Peter coming to the wilderness with Cole. Later, them becoming friends. That just doesn't happen in real life; you don't beat someone up so much that they have brain damage and then become buddies with them. But I didn't care very much because it was at the end. I didn't have to suspend disbelief for very long. In this book, I had to suspend my disbelief for the whole story, and I just became really skeptical of the whole thing.

Maybe the root problem for this book is that Touching Spirit Bear was one of those books that didn't need a sequel. It was stunning as a standalone.

This one, in the end, didn't stand up to the original. I am probably going to donate my copy to Goodwill, because I don't feel like I'm going to be reading this again.

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