Book: “Ghoster” by Jason Arnopp
Publishing Info: Orbit, October 2019
Where Did I Get This Book: I received an ARC from the publisher.
Book Description: Jason Arnopp – author of acclaimed cult hit The Last Days of Jack Sparks – returns with a razor-sharp thriller for a social-media obsessed world. Prepare to never look at your phone the same way again . . .
Kate Collins has been ghosted. She was supposed to be moving in with her new boyfriend Scott, but all she finds after relocating to Brighton is an empty apartment. Scott has vanished. His possessions have all disappeared. Except for his mobile phone. Kate knows she shouldn’t hack into Scott’s phone. She shouldn’t look at his Tinder, his calls, his social media. But she can’t quite help herself. That’s when the trouble starts. Strange, whispering phone calls from numbers she doesn’t recognize. Scratch marks on the walls that she can’t explain. And the growing feeling that she’s being watched. Kate refuses to leave the apartment – she’s not going anywhere until she’s discovered what happened to Scott. But the deeper she dives into Scott’s digital history the more Kate realizes just how little she really knows about the man she loves.
Review: Thanks to Orbit for sending me an ARC of this novel!
Back in 2017 I was flying back from New Zealand and was totally enthralled by “The Last Days of Jack Sparks” by Jason Arnopp. While I am not usually super into nor affected by possession and exorcist stories, the uniqueness and genuine creepiness of this novel completely blew me away and was one of my favorite reads of the year. I waited anxiously for a new book by Arnopp to drop, and when I saw that he had a new book called “Ghoster” coming out, I was ecstatic. I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of “Ghoster”, and once I had finished a couple other books that took precedent, I dove right in. “Ghoster” isn’t a possession story. At least, not in the way that we normally think about them. But it is a story about obsession, and how things can seemingly take you over in unexpected, and dangerous ways.
Oh, and we once again get some creepy and unsettling imagery that freaked me the hell out.
Kate, or protagonist, is a bit of a complex and unreliable character. We know that she has had obsessive issues with social media and romance in the past, and after her lover Scott seemingly disappears on the eve of them moving in together, you wonder if her need to find him is based on worry for his safety, or a dark jealousy that is hinted at from her previous relationships and actions. It’s first person, so we get into her mind and how quirky and obsessive it can be. She is convinced that Scott has left her, or has tricked her, and since it isn’t often that she stops to think that maybe something bad happened to him it makes you question a lot about her mental state. Is she a woman with a legitimate beef, or is she a bit more unstable than she’d like us to think? It sets a tone that is already uneasy and makes it all the more jarring. I felt bad for Kate, but I also wasn’t sure if I could totally trust her and her perceptions, or the story that she was telling us. It’s true that there were a couple of times where I thought that her strangeness was laid on a little thick, but for the most part it was well done and a great way to make the reader question even more about the story than they already may have been. It also makes it so that when the very strange things start happening, we have to wonder what is real and what isn’t. I wouldn’t say that Kate is likable, but she sure doesn’t have to be. It’s not like Jack Sparks was a likable character, after all, so why can’t Kate also be that way? It didn’t make me any less invested in her story.
The creepy elements and plot of this book aren’t as amped as Arnopp’s previous novel, but they are still there and they are still done in a way that left an impression. As Kate slowly tries to trace Scott’s steps and whereabouts, she finds more and more things that suggest something is afoot. She has his cell phone, and is able to see his browsing history, which implies that he may not have been the person he said he is. There is a missing woman that may have a connection to him. And on top of that, as she stays in Scott’s apartment and her obsession with his phone and social media footprint intensifies, she starts to see things that shouldn’t be possible. I don’t want to go into specifics, but I will say this: one of the things that gets me really freaked out in movies and books are the images and descriptions of people and things moving in ways that they shouldn’t be moving. Be it jerky motions or weird contorted moving, it’s going to mess me up every single time. Arnopp does something like that in this book, and boy did it hit all the nerves. Arnopp has always been very good at describing an incredibly visual medium and making it work on the page and within the reader’s imagination. All that said, I did think that the metaphors about technology and social media having a malevolent hold on people are pretty well played out at this point, so that wasn’t as strong as I had hoped it would be, commentary wise.
“Ghoster” was another satisfying and spooky read from Jason Arnopp. It’s a great one to pick up right in time for Halloween, and now that I’ve read it I’m back to square one and not at all patiently waiting to see what he comes out with next!
Rating 8: A spine tingling and tense horror story about relationships, social media, and obsession.
“Ghoster” is new and isn’t on many relevant/specific Goodreads lists, but I think that it would fit in on “Fiction Involving The Internet”.
Find “Ghoster” at your library using WorldCat!