Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Review: Vintage - A Ghost Story by Steve Berman

Title: Vintage: A Ghost Story
Author: Steve Berman
Genre: YA, horror, LGBT

Publisher: Haworth Positronic Press
Publishing Date: March 1st 2007
Paperback: 164 pages

Stand Alone or series: Stand alone

In a small New Jersey town a lonely boy walking along a highway one autumn evening meets the boy of his dreams, a boy who happens to have died decades ago and haunts the road. Awkward crushes, both bitter and sweet, lead him to face youthful dreams and childish fears. With a cast of offbeat friends, antiques, and Ouija boards, Vintage offers readers a memorable blend of dark humor, chills and love.

As the summary says, this story is about a lonely boy who comes across the ghost of a boy who dies in the 50s. Dealing with the aftermath of his parents rejection after coming out as gay, he sees the ghost as a way to both find love and escape the real world. As their relationship starts to escalate though, he finds that maybe ghost stories are scary for a reason and that his ghost has a lot of issues of its own. Armed with a group of quirky friends and a Ouija board, Vintage is about one boy's struggle for love and all the surprises that inevitably ensue.

Interestingly enough, the main protagonist is never named throughout the story. I didn't even realize this until I started to write this review, but he's only given a last name, Vesely. I guess Berman did this in order to make it possible for readers to identify with the main character, but I found the characters so particular that I don't think this is fully possible. Vesely is not only gay, but he's a goth with a penchant for vintage clothing. He has lots of like and dislikes that made him one of the more fully developed characters I've read in a while. Because of this, I don't think leaving him unnamed was needed. Either way I completely adored Vesely though. He's both idealistic and realistic in ways that really resonated with me. Even though he knows something to be impossible, he can't help but wish for it anyways. He's one of those people who can be surrounded by people and yet feel totally alone and find solace in the strangest places. I don't want to go on and on, but talk about major girl crush. I loved that his being gay was just one part of him rather then who he was.

All of the rest of the characters were interesting as well. Some people may think they were made too quirky, but I think a lot of readers will be able to connect with this lot of strange and interesting people. It's hard to believe how much character Berman was able to give all his characters with less than 200 pages. I've read books twice as long where the main character doesn't even have half as much personalty. The relationships Vesely has with his friends, particularly Trace, was great. More than anything, the characters and their relationships felt authentic in a way that surprised me.

About the ghost story itself, this is the only part of the book I think some people may be disappointed by. If you go into this story looking for horror, then you're probably not going to be too happy. While I think the ghost story part of the book was well enough, I didn't really find anything too scary or horrific. Maybe it's because I felt the whole point of the ghost was to really push Vesely into accepting that love is hard but worth the risk, rather then trying to escape the possibility of rejection, but I didn't really care about the ghost at all. Of course, this was just me. The great thing about this story is the mystery and the romance weren't overblown so it's easy to get lost in both.

I know I've rambled on, but I can take a moment to talk about Second Mike for a second? I haven't been so enamored with a character in quite a while. I wanted to keep him all to myself and the first thing I did when I finished the book was re-read all the passages with him in it. Swoon.

Notable Quotes/ Parts:

Anything with Second Mike in it.


Another book that completely surprised me. At less than two hundred pages Vintage is quite a light read that still manages to be touching and sweet.

Rating: 7. Very good

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