Haunted: More teenage drama than plot

Haunted by Meg Cabot YA fantasy book reviewsHaunted by Meg Cabot fantasy book reviewsHaunted by Meg Cabot

Haunted (2003) is the fifth novel in Meg Cabot’s MEDIATOR series. You’ll want to read the previous books first: Shadowland, Ninth Key, Reunion, and Darkest Hour.

In my review of Darkest Hour I said that the series was getting more complex after we meet a guy named Paul (super rich and super hot, of course) who is also a mediator but who, unlike Suze and Father Dom, has no qualms about using his powers for his own personal gain. I liked that twist and was eager to see how the story deepened after this possibility occurred to Suze.

Cabot does use Paul to make the world of mediators a bit more complex, but mostly Paul is used to create a love triangle between Suze, Paul, and Jesse, the hot (of course) ghost in Suze’s room. Both boys are “warm for her form.” (Is this a California teen expression? It’s awful.)

In Haunted, Paul transfers to Suze’s Catholic high school so he can be near her (this was the first of several totally unbelievable plot elements). Then he dangles the promise of Mediator knowledge in front of Suze and uses it to lure her to his bedroom where they can study Mediator lore together.

Paul threatens Suze, too, saying he’ll exorcise Jesse if she doesn’t comply. Suze is torn between Paul, a (hot and rich) guy who is a total jerk, and probably evil, and Jesse, a sweet old-fashioned (hot) guy who’s dead. (Meanwhile I am yelling at Suze to choose option three — NEITHER! — but she didn’t seem to hear me.)

There’s a subplot involving the ghost of a boy who drowned and feels like his brother should have died instead. His plotline eventually intersects with the love triangle in a dramatic (but sloppy) hot tub scene.

The ghost plot is minor. The focus of Haunted is on the relationship between Suze and the two boys who are “warm for her form.” Teenage girls who swoon over love triangles will like this a lot better than I did. Haunted has been rated over 33,000 times on Goodreads and it scores an impressive 4.15. But readers who are looking for more plot than teenage drama will be disappointed in Haunted.

Audiobook readers should note that this instalment has a different narrator. Alanna Ubach does a nice job, but she’s different than the previous narrator and many readers (including myself) don’t like it when narrators change. Fortunately Haunted is short (only 2 hours in audio format) and our regular narrator, Johanna Parker, returns in the next book, Twilight.

Published in 2003. Is it possible to be haunted by someone who isn’t even dead? Suze is used to trouble, but this time she’s in deep: Ghostly Jesse has her heart, but Paul Slater, a real flesh-and-blood guy, is warm for her form. And mediator Paul knows how to send Jesse to the Great Beyond. For good. Paul claims he won’t do anything to Jesse as long as Suze will go out with him. Fearing she’ll lose Jesse forever, Suze agrees. But even if Suze can get Jesse to admit his true feelings for her, what kind of future can she have with a guy who’s already dead?

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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