Famous Last Words, by Katie Alender

According to her author bio, Katie Alender went to film school, and her love of movies permeates every page of Famous Last Words. I expect there's already a film-adaptation deal in the works, but if not, Hollywood is missing out, because Famous Last Words has everything: ghosts, romance, murders... even a makeover scene. Seriously, it's practically a shopping list for a great teen movie.

When Willa's new stepfather, a successful movie director, moves her and her mother from suburban Connecticut to his historic Hollywood mansion, the tabloids treat her like Cinderella. Willa tries to view the move as a fresh start, but it's clear that something has followed her to California—her hit-or-miss ability to communicate with ghosts. Making matters worse, there's a serial killer stalking young women in the area, and Willa discovers that she seems to have a special affinity for connecting with the spirits of his victims.

My only problem with this story was the fact that I instantly guessed who the killer was. It's not that I'm some kind of super sleuth, or even that Alender over-telegraphs her clues—it's just that everything about this character, from the timing of their introduction to the exact size and nature of their role, practically screams: “PICK ME, PICK ME! I AM CLEARLY A NUTJOB SERIAL KILLER.” (To be fair, I've been reading murder mysteries for a lot longer than Alender's target audience, so what seems obvious to me might come as a staggering surprise to, say, a 15-year-old.) However, the murder mystery is only a small part of this story, and everything else in Famous Last Words—the romance, the ghost story, the coming-of-age elements—works like a charm. Reading it was a great kick-off for my week of Halloween reviews, and I fully intend to check out more of Ms. Alender's work.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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