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Brown Girl Ghosted by Mintie Das #BookReview

Violet Choudry may be part of the popular clique at school, but as one of a handful of brown girls in a small Illinois town, all she really wants to do is blend in. Unfortunately for her, she’s got a knack for seeing spirits. When the queen bee of the school ends up dead following a leaked sex tape, Violet’s friends from the spirit world decide it’s the perfect time for Violet to test her skills and finally accept the legacy of spiritual fighters from whom she’s descended. Her mission? Find the killer. Or else she’s next.

Brown Girl Ghosted book cover

Title: Brown Girl Ghosted | Author: Mintie Das | Publisher: HMH Young Readers | Pub. Date: 24-03-2020 | ISBN13: 9780358128892 | Language: English | Source: Received from Netgalley for review consideration | Unstarred Review

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Brown Girl Ghosted Review

Sweet Baby Cthulhu. I read this crap so you wouldn’t have to. That’s what I told myself to get through three-fourths of Brown Girl Ghosted at least. I wanted to just walk away from it, but it was a friggin train-wreck that I couldn’t stop rubbernecking at.

My main complaint with this book boils down to: “Did it have an editor? At all? Even for five minutes?” Because, uh, how do I put this nicely… I’m pretty sure it didn’t. Yeah, okay, we give ARCs a pass for minor formatting errors and typos, etc, but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a single section break other than a chapter heading in the entire thing, and sometimes even those were missed! 

It was a jarring, sloppy read from that alone.

But the story had its issues, too.

I gave Brown Girl Ghosted some slack because it’s a YA book and those are going to almost always be more focused on the hormonal side of things. (Shout-out here to books like Shutter by Courtney Alameda that managed to tell a good story without devolving into everyone is SO hot! And.. and…and.. Did I mention everyone was hot?) However, as you might have guessed by the previous sentence, I became very quickly disgusted with this book. Everyone was hot. ERRYONE. Okay? Like, OMG. Don’t you get it? FYI, everyone is SO hot!

…and if you get a little twitchy at abbreviations being used as actual speech, this book will bother you… I was able to overlook it the majority of the time, but when a girl stood up and shouted “OMG!” I eye-rolled so hard I gave myself a headache. Then there was the badonkadonk, so fly, etc.  While I could forgive some of the lingo because apparently some people do speak like that, it felt so crammed full of it that it came off more as a 40-year-old trying to speak like a ‘fly’ teenager than anything else.

What feels like most of Brown Girl Ghosted in a nutshell:

  1. Everyone is hot.
  2. I am, like, super-powerful but I don’t want my powers.
  3. Did I mention everyone was hot?
  4. Also, I’m on the POM squad and, like, just want to fit in, but, uhm, I have these special powers I don’t want, and did I mention everyone was hot?

The word “hot” in relation to how attractive people were was mentioned so many times I was ready to beg the author to please, for the love of all things moist and tentactly, pull up a bloody thesaurus and look for other ways to indicate desirability. PLEASE. Also, there’s just the fact that there is this emphasis on everyone being hot. I was a teen. I remember thinking, yeah, certain people were hot, but I did not rate everyone in my friggin life on a scale of how hot they were.

The best part of this novel is how persistently race plays a part in it. It makes you realize – in a way you really can’t understand as a white person – exactly how much race, and the knowledge that you are different simply because of that, affects so much of your life. There was a line about superheroes with secret identities being all white men, so how could an ethnic Harry Potter not get roasted at the stake that really struck me. It was a great paragraph and it’s a great topic.

The whole perceived sexuality comes into play multiple times as well and it should. Girls really are expected to ride the line, but not cross it. However, it’s not a clear cut line and it is way too easy for them to fall on the wrong side of it. As a parent of a child who will be a teen in a few years, it bothers me more than ever how much emphasis we put on the sexuality of teenage girls. We should be pushing them to develop their minds not forcing them to conform to ideas that started in men’s nether regions.

Unfortunately up until about the 60% point the book just isn’t worth reading. After that it gets more interesting – but how many readers are going to stick around for it to actually get good? I stuck through only because I was basically rage-reading by that point. From 75% on, it’s actually a halfway decent read. Is it a *good* read? When you’re going from pretty much bottom of the barrel bad, even a few steps up is still bad, you know? So it’s hard to say.

Maybe the author was trying to show us something in the maturation of Violet from the beginning of the book to the end. Maybe it was a growth for her going from everyone is hot to concentrating on the actual story itself. Maybe. Possibly. But even if it was, it was still sloppily executed.

 Sci-Fi & Scary supports diverse creators and we have made it our whole goal for 2020 to shine a light on the voices that don’t easily get that light. That’s one of the reasons why writing a negative review for a book from a diverse creator is so hard. I wanted to be able to shout from the rooftops about an amazing book from an extremely talented creator. Instead, I’m forced to write this. We tell people to give diverse voices a chance – to read outside their comfort zone – but this is the content that is easily available to them? Small presses are putting out some quality work by diverse writers. (Check out Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias if you don’t believe me!) But small presses don’t get the attention that the major presses do. No one is getting any favors done for them if they pick up this book, fully willing to give someone a chance, and walk away with an unpleasant taste in their mouth.

I think Brown Girl Ghosted could have been good if Minti Das had had a team that worked with her like they should have worked with her. But they didn’t. And instead, people tune in to an awesome idea and tune out when they see execution that is so poor it makes a book reviewer cry, “Send it back to the editor and give it back to me when it’s actually finished!”

You can find Brown Girl Ghosted via its Goodreads link, or, if you’d like to help support literacy, at Better World Books

Published inHorror Book ReviewsUnstarred Reviews

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