July 5th 2011
When Alice Forster receives an email from her dead sister she assumes it must be a sick practical joke. Then an invitation arrives to the virtual world of Soul Beach, an idyllic online paradise of sun, sea and sand where Alice can finally talk to her sister again - and discover a new world of friendships, secrets and maybe even love . . . . But why is Soul Beach only inhabited by the young, the beautiful and the dead? Who really murdered Megan Forster? And could Alice be next? The first book in an intriguing and compelling trilogy centred around the mystery of Megan Forster's death.
Soul Beach was kind of a strange book. Good, but a bit strange. It felt like a bit of a combination between The Mediator series and The Body Finder series, but set in England and with Social Networking instead of Psychic Powers. I was a bit iffy about the premise, because I wasn't sure if it'd work or if I'd like it that much, but I felt like it was pulled off really well, and I'm really looking forward to the next book.
You won't hear me say this often, but I'm so glad this book is part of a series! If was a standalone (and as the first book in a series, I must applaud it for not ending in a Rage Inducing Cliffhanger), then I would've been seriously pissed at the lack of explanation for Soul Beach and everything about it. I really, really hope it will all be elaborated on in the next two books, because I need to know what Soul Beach really is, how it came about, how it works, why certain people get to go there when others don't... You know, not much.
I also wasn't sure when I first saw what this book was about that the author would be able to pull it off all that well, because it's a bit weird, isn't it? But it actually became something I was really fascinated by, and it's a really interesting world that the author as created. I really liked the fact that it was Almost Paranormal, as well. I'm still not sure about the circumstances that Soul Beach exists in, but I liked that they were never called ghosts. The whole Social Network interaction thing made it all seem a lot less supernatural, and I found myself getting confused between the Real World and the Beach a lot like Alice did. Though if Limbo is just an endless summery beach, I'm not that sure I want to go there. I'm not a huge fan of sand. Or water. Or the sun. Or anything really.
I thought Alice was quite an interesting character, too, because when we first meet her she's still grieving her sister's death. Well, she's grieving her sister's death for the whole book, really, thought it gets less bad when she starts talking to her again. I found her attachment to the Beach and her obsession with it to be really believable, and I liked seeing how it got worse and worse as the book progressed. The only thing that really annoyed about her was that after Danny came into the picture as a romantic interest (Danny is one of the Soul Beach peeps. He's a bit dead.) it felt like she started caring less about Meggie. I felt like she was starting to forget that they were all dead.
I also felt like the romantic tension between Alice and Danny could've been developed more, but as there was a lot of other stuff going on, I'll let it slide this time. Besides, the romance wasn't that important to the story anyway. Some of the tension I did like, though (SEGUE) was all of the suspense, because as well as all of the Beach stuff, Alice is still trying to find out who killed Meggie. There are quite a few segments which are told from the POV of the killer, and while they're all less than a page, they're still pretty creepy. I'm still trying to figure out who the killer is, because it's clear that Alice is in danger, and we never found out in this book! I have a list of suspects, though, and I will be SO CHUFFED if I guessed it right. Honestly, you'll never hear me shut up about it.
Soul Beach was way better than I expected, and I found myself really intrigued by the world and what was going on in it. I must get my hands on a copy of Soul Fire soon!