The narrator, Paige Kelly, known as Bellevue Kelly to the kids at her school, is composed entirely of sass. She’s completely ostracized and friendless, due to her apparent habit of talking to air. Actually, dying briefly in an accident after saving a little boy has given her the power to see ghosts, so she’s really talking to her best friend, Dottie, who’s been dead for ages. Paige takes all of this very well. She’s not the sort to really lay down and allow herself to be bullied. The most popular girl in school, Pepper, does her best to make Paige feel inferior, but Paige is always ready with a serious burn of a comeback. Basically, I think this girl is hilarious:
"But much like her namesake, Pepper was irritating when she was in my face."(9)
"It was less Mr. Sexypants and more Mr. Windowless Van." (30)
"I wondered if she would ask Logan if he was going to give me his varsity jacket or pin me. More like I’m going to pin him. To the wall. And make out with his face." (254)
Another thing I love about Paige is how she reacts when she really learns about all the paranormal stuff going on in her life, which goes much beyond seeing dead people. She’s scared for sure, but she also immediately demands to be educated and trained. Where Logan and his Uncle want her to sit back and be protected, she’ll have none of it. Paige insists on being taught to fight herself. Even before getting any training, Paige had proved invaluable in a battle, because she didn’t just watch like some sort of Princess Buttercup. Oh, also, when she learns that Logan’s keeping things from her, she is pissed and calls him out on it.
The other aspect of The Dark World I love is Paige’s family. The Kellys are one of the healthiest families I’ve seen in YA. Her parents are a bit overprotective since the accident, but what parents who loved their child wouldn’t be? They all frustrate each other sometimes, but the love between them is obvious. She hangs out with her parents, talks to them about things, and they joke and laugh together. It’s so sweet and so rarely seen in YA.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The paranormal stuff I was of two minds about. I think Shultz’s worldbuilding is interesting and pretty well-developed. Her explanation for ghosts is unique and convincing. That said, I also wasn’t as into the book after it went full on paranormal activity. I think my reticence is perhaps the lack of compelling villains? There are a lot of evil and untrustworthy dudes, but they’re all just kind of there and without any sort of character development. I’m not intrigued by the paranormal plot and would prefer to watch Paige interact with people at her school, being a sassy BAMF.
The romance is sweet, but I didn’t really ship it. I’m cool with Paige and Logan. They’ve got a pretty healthy relationship and they even have a decent banter going. Still, it’s just not getting me in the heart, perhaps because they are also too cutesy together? I’m not sure why, but the shipping did not commence, which left me less emotionally connected than I could have been.
The Final Verdict:
While this book hasn’t become a new favorite, I had a blast reading it, and there’s no doubt that Shultz is an author whose work I will always be reading.