I am extremely unhappy with author Ripley Patton, for I am forced to wait another couple of months before the third and last installment of the PSS Chronicles. She hooked me with the first installment, Ghost Hand (read my review here), got me addicted with Ghost Hold, the second installment, and now, I have to wait for the third one to find out what is going to happen to Olivia, Marcus, Passion, Samantha, and the rest of the gang.
Just like with its predecessor, Ghost Hold captured me from the first page and was very hard to put down, even briefly. Those of us who read the work of independent authors know that oftentimes, independent authors only think they can write. Out of those who write well, some produce a great first book out of beginner’s luck. But in Patton’s case, the quality of the writing in Ghost Hold demonstrates that Ghost Hand was a by-product of talent that manages to avoid many common, first time sequel author mistakes. For example, sequels can often be weighed down by unnecessary repetition. This is not the case with Ghost Hold, which manages to be just as fast-paced, to include as many tense moments and action packed sequences, to have as much dry humor, and to explore further the important social issue of accepting differences, in a manner just as fresh and engaging as its prequel.
PSS stands for “Psyche Sans Soma”, which I understand as the psychic presence of a missing body part. In lieu of your typical human hand, seventeen-year old Olivia Black was born with one made of luminous, delicate, yet strong filaments of blue energy. Just like with anything that is slightly different from the defined norm, a shady organization known as “Citizens Against Minus Flesh”, or CAMF, is still after Olivia and her friends, who also have PSS. As the group of fugitives continues their mission, we find out more about them, including the potential that Marcus might not be as selfless as he appears to be. His secretive behavior finally gets in the way of his relationship with Olivia; I will let you find out if the couple of makes it or not
The story brings both a deeper understanding of the characters by zooming in on them, and a broader understanding of the context by looking at the context within which the action is taking place. Zooming out from the group of teenagers brought together by Marcus, Ghost Hold touches on some of the societal forces acting on them. Ripley Patton manages to explain the broader context without incurring a typical challenge of sequels, that is to say, plot holes and contradictions. We find out more about many things encountered in Ghost Hand, such as the circumstances around which Olivia’s father painted the portrait of The Other Olivia, Marcus’ childhood and the circumstances of the death of his parents, and Passion’s story, to name but a few.
Again like with the first installment, I see great potential for this book to be book club material. The exploration of the topic of “the other” that was started in Ghost Hand continues in Ghost Hold, and yet again, the author never adopts an authoritative or preaching voice. I also liked the concept of letting go of one’s fears to be able to embrace one’s powers fully.
By contributing yet another quality work of fiction aimed at a young adult audience that could, in its pages, find the inspiration often needed to navigate through sensitive years in a turbulent work, Ripley Patton is making good uses of the proceeds of her Kickstarter fundraising campaign. But seriously, have mercy on us, Ripley, and finish the third installment sooner rather than later!