Peer pressure is a terrible thing. There, I just gave you the moral for this book in six words. If this book would stop trying to take the moral high ground and stick to it’s ghostly premise, it would almost be creepy. Instead, we have a book that seems like a heavy handed after-school special that happens to involve ghosts. This is The Ghost Next Door.
Hannah has a new neighbor who seems to have moved in without her noticing. He also seems to disappear right in front of her eyes. Hannah is convinced he is a ghost. Could this be why she’s never heard of him or his friends even though they go to the same school? And what is the strange shadow that seems to be following Hannah everywhere?
The main story and main premise of the book are actually pretty good. Needless to say, this is a much better ghost story than Welcome to Dead House was. There’s a genuine creepiness to the mystery of who Danny is and Hannah’s growing fear of the mystery is a driving point of the story. However, the book at times seems far more interested in furthering a subplot rather than the main plot.
The subplot, as I mentioned earlier, involves peer pressure. Danny is seen multiple times hanging out with two boys who force him to steal things and basically trash other people’s property. Danny seems reluctant to do any of this stuff, but he does because peer pressure. I understand the importance of teaching these kinda things but did this really need to be in a Goosebumps book? The kid never really learns that peer pressure is bad. The other boys never truly learn their lessons either. So, I find myself asking what the point of the subplot was. I regretted that it got the most development in the book.
The twist of the story is really easy to figure out. I knew what the twist would be about two pages into the book. While it is a very easy thing to see coming, its predictability didn’t detract from its creativity. The story builds up the twist pretty well, too, almost to the point that you suspect your guess might be wrong. The main story was fairly good despite it not getting as much “screen time” as the subplot. The main ending of the book was also very satisfying and left me with a warm feeling. I’ll just say that I’m left with the same feeling I get at the ending of some Ghost Whisperer episodes and leave it at that.
I don’t want to talk about the characters for fear of accidentally giving something away. They were well done, to say the least I can about them. This book is by no means perfect, but it’s a decent enough ghost story. The moral, despite being distracting, is actually pretty good. The ending is probably the most heartwarming one I’ve come across in the series so far. I suggest picking this book up and giving it a read. And I suggest doing that before you become a ghost yourself…