I’d been waiting for the new Avi book to come out and apparently is snuck onto the shelves without me knowing!
School of the Dead by Avi is a mystery/scifi, middle school read set in modern day San Francisco. Everyone has that one uncle who is just a little strange, for Tony Gilbert it’s his “Weird Uncle Charlie.” Needing a place to stay, the aging Uncle Charlie moves in with Tony and his parents. Tony soon forges a bond with his odd uncle–who is interested in all things supernatural–and the two become very close.
When Uncle Charlie passes away, Tony is so upset that he starts seeing his uncle everywhere! A thumbs up at the bus stop, a smile of encouragement at school, etc. With the inheritance Uncle Charlie left for Tony’s schooling, the family picks up and moves from Connecticut to San Francisco. Tony even starts at a new school, the same one his uncle went to when he was a boy.
This posh new school has weird rules and a sketchy history. Soon Tony is seeing ghosts, solving mysteries and fighting for his life! Who can Tony trust when no one and nothing is what it seems?
I’m not going to lie, there are books that get me giddy or make me laugh but very rarely does a book actually make me anxious. I was nervous for Tony while reading this book! I wasn’t sure what was going to happen or where the book was leading. I actually had that, someone is watching you, feeling. And it’s a middle school book! Now, I will admit, I don’t read a lot of mysteries but still, I am a grown woman and this book succeeded in giving me the heebie jeebies. Well done Avi. Well done.
On top of the mystery and ghosts, there were some very relatable aspects to this book that I think would resonate with a middle school audience: a death in the family, starting a new school, making friends, being different, even bullying if you want to make the ghosts out to be bullies.
My only criticism of this book was how quickly it ended. It built and built and built, but there wasn’t really a come down–it just ended. I mean I was satisfied with the ending but I would have liked a few pages of, now that we’re not in peril any more… I guess that’s what the imagination is for.
Overall, I was very satisfied with this book. There were twists in this that I wasn’t expecting and it had a good pace for the audience. A good read for boys and girls. This one gets 4 stars from me.
That’s all for now!