Monday, September 10, 2012

The Society: Proof by Aaron Crabill

Title: The Society: Proof
Author: Aaron Crabill
Length: 4921 Kindle units
Rating: 3.5 stars

The Plot

Keely Allison has one goal – to find proof that ghosts exist. Most days during the summer and every weekend during the school year, she and her friend Tad go to houses in the most haunted town in America, Pembleton, Arizona, and try to find enough evidence of paranormal activity that her scientist uncle will certify as legitimate evidence. When the new school year starts, it brings with it Sean Cage, a paranormal enthusiast and newcomer to Pembleton. After seeing his infrared goggles and hearing about the malevolent spirit haunting his house, Keely and Tad are only too happy to let him into their Society. But will the addition of a new perspective have the endeavor crumbling in upon itself?

The Good

The basic story of The Society: Proof was good and interesting. Keely, Tad, and Sean are teenagers who are determined to find proof that ghosts exist and who pursue this quest with admirable dedication. I know that when I was a teenager, I did not care passionately enough about anything to spend hours reviewing tedious audio and video footage. In addition to their budding investigative careers, the main characters have to deal with the usual issues of teenage life, including but not limited to bullies and unrequited love.

The overarching plot that starts developing over the course of the story is also potentially intriguing. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but it seems that the cases the teens have been tracking are not just average hauntings. The Society members are simply pawns in a larger conflict at work in the most haunted town in the US.

The Bad

When my anthropology-major sister was in college taking introduction to archaeology classes, her classes had novels used as textbooks. Basically, these books were set up to have a (rather lame) murder mystery going on, but interspersed throughout the story was information about archaeology theory and practice. The first half of The Society: Proof read very similar to this. I felt like I was reading a textbook with a plot about paranormal investigation. This added the extra level to the text where I was trying to determine whether the author actually thought that ghosts exist in the same way that the characters did, which always makes a book lose points with me, embittered scientist that I am. (I am also refraining from going on a diatribe about how there is no proof in science, which the characters in the book definitely did not know.)

Another problem with the book was its complete inability to be subtle. Any time a character was feeling something, we would be told this several times in no uncertain terms. Now, to some extent I prefer over-clarification to under-clarification, but in this case it really slowed down the pace of the novel and was the narrative equivalent of repeatedly hitting someone on the head with a hammer. This was especially problematic at the beginning, where not too much was happening. If I hadn’t agreed to review the novel for my blog, I almost certainly would not have made it past the first quarter of the novel.

The Romance

Tad has been in love with Keely for as long as he can remember. It’s half the reason he participates in their paranormal investigation society. He thinks that maybe this year will be the year that he finally gets up the courage to tell her how he feels. What he doesn’t realize is that by waiting so long to say anything, he’s put himself into a love triangle. New member Sean is interested in Keely, and he has more self-confidence than Tad, enough to voice his attraction to her. So which boy will win out? And will Keely ever love any boy as much as she loves searching for ghosts? Only time will tell…

Will I read more?

I was just looking on the book’s Facebook page, and apparently it is the first in a five-part series about these characters. I confess that I do have some interest in getting more information about the mythology. However, I think that this is a case where I might like to see summaries of the later books rather than actually reading them in their entirety, so that I could avoid being clubbed with slow-moving text.

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