Title: Ascenders Saga
Author: C.L. Gaber
Genre: YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Reviews & PR
These high school kids are now caught in a strange “in-between” zone where life hasn’t changed very much. In fact, this special teen limbo looks a lot like life in a quaint Michigan town complete with jocks, popular girls and cliques. "There are even cheerleaders in death," Walker observes. It's not a coincidence that the music teacher is a guy named Kurt who "used to have this band." The drama teacher, Heath, is crush worthy because back in his life, he starred in some superhero movie.
Principal King explains the rules -- there are none. Why? You can't die twice.
There is no homework. No tests. No SATS. You're just there to learn because the human brain isn't fully formed until you're 24.
By the way, you can't get hurt physically, so race your Harley off that hillside. But falling in love is the most dangerous thing you can do ...because no one knows how long you'll stay in this realm or what's next.
"Losing someone you love would be like dying twice," Walker says.
* * * * * *
Walker Callaghan has just arrived at the Academy after a tragic car accident. “Is this heaven or is this high school?” she asks.
She finds out her new life is a bit of both as she falls in love with tat-covered, bad boy Daniel Reid who is about to break the only sacred rule of this place. He's looking for a portal to return back to the living realm.
He needs just one hour to retrieve his younger brother who strangely never arrived at The Academy. Bobby is an Earth Bound Spirit, stuck at a plane crash site that took both of their lives as their rich father piloted his private jet nose-first into a cornfield on Christmas Eve.
Walker loves Daniel and risks it all to go with him.
Have they learned enough to outsmart dangerous forces while transporting a young child with them? Can their love survive the fragmented evil parts of themselves that are now hunting them down as they try to find a way back to the middle?
At the Academy, you learn the lessons of an after-lifetime.
I can most definitely say I found my favorite new author/book of the year!! It may be the end of the year, but it’s never too late! It gets harder to find a new favorite, since there are so many great books I’ve read over the years that they would have to compare with, but this one definitely fits the bill!
My absolute favorite part of this book is that it’s DIFFERENT. Comparing it to something else I’ve read would be difficult, because I haven’t read anything else like it. I had already started recommending it to friends when I was only halfway through the book. I didn’t need to know how it would end. I already knew it would be good, and I was right. My best way I’ve been able to describe it thus far is that it’s sort of an afterlife Divergent, but not as serious all the time. It even had fun additions of ‘special guest stars’ that were their teachers in high school. The author didn’t directly tell you who they were most of the time, so as a reader, we got to guess who it was by their description (and the fact that we knew it had to be someone that was dead, because…afterlife and all).
You would expect in a book about an afterlife high school with no rules, and barely any parents, that there would certainly be some teen angst issues. There is. But it’s surprisingly well balanced. There’s not too much because, well, they’re dead. So, being in an afterlife high school, they realize there are much more important things to worry about, and they’re all on a more even level, since they can have whatever clothes, etc. they want. Of course, there are the few that just can’t let go of their ‘before’ attitudes, but there has to be some of that in every life to keep things interesting. On top of that, they can take whatever classes they want, learn what they want and when they want, and never know when or how they’ll ‘move on’. It’s certainly a well written change in perspective that quite honestly made me take a closer look at MY life and what’s really important.
The kids that were really bad in their previous life? There’s a place for them too. It’s much like a jail, but so much more. And they CAN feel things, and DO have rules. But what I like, is that the author doesn’t make their futures certain either. They still have time to change their own paths – if they choose.
For both the good and the bad kids, the author tells their ‘death stories’ from their own perspectives – how they got there. There is not ONE story that didn’t fully move me. Ms. Gaber’s writing is so powerful, and makes you FEEL in so many different ways throughout the book, that I can’t say enough how much this book should be read.
The ending was really great also, because it’s set up perfectly for the next book, and doesn’t kill you with a horrible cliffhanger. Most things you would want wrapped up from this book were, with just a bit of a teaser of what was to come next.
In the Midst—a place for those who die young—there are no rules except one.
And Walker Callaghan, dead at seventeen, just broke it. She briefly revisited her earthly life . . . and the punishment is eternal. Longing for her rebel love interest, Daniel Reid, Walker finds an ally in Cass, whose attraction to her is as alive as he is. “Life is short,” he tells her. “I’m banking on eternity. With you.”
In the second book of the Ascenders Saga, a realm-jumping journey takes Walker and Daniel back to life again when they search for something buried in history. They team with students from several other schools in the middle realm including a place for teens born with oddities. It’s home to the Claires . . . beautiful, ruthless, and quite dead seventeen-year-old quads who each have a different clairvoyant gift.
Can Walker survive another adventure of an afterlife-time—or will she find herself on the downside of eternity?
5 out of 5 stars!
I absolutely adored the first book in this trilogy – this I was not silent about. Because of this, I was super scared to read the next one. What if it wasn’t as new and exciting? I immediately knew this was not going to be a problem as soon as I started reading!
One thing I really like about this book is that once again, it’s a true novel. It’s not a book that was broken up into 3 more books to make it a longer series and sell more books. And with as much as what goes on in this book, this author very easily could’ve done this. Instead, she created a novel that once again, was nearly impossible to put down.
One of the things I like the most about this book and the previous book, is that Ms. Gaber created an entirely new world – the afterlife world – yet made this incredible balance of keeping it much like the world we live in, with small tweaks that make it more heavenly – literally. Like everything we like about this world, but the pressures of money removed, or being able to learn without the pressure of grades. Not only that, but it’s not just simple “heaven” as a whole – it’s a young adult level, with few adults. The key here is the hints the author gives about the adults, and why it’s them that are there. If you pay attention to the clues, you may recognize the majority of them, and why the kids are more than happy with these adults guiding them.
As for the young adult characters, not all of them are perfect either. We learned a little in the first book that there are other kids in other “schools” nearby, but for different reasons, aren’t allowed to interact with the majority of the other kids. There are little parts of proof, but mostly rumor. In this book, we delve deeper into who these kids are, and why – even details of how – these kids are separated. And WOW! I won’t give anything away, but the creativity that comes out in this book with each character, place, and story is incredible!
I would say that in this book, the absolute best part is learning about the new characters, and the very cool way the author shares each of their “death stories”. Again, it’s hard to give detail without giving away too much, but the character creativity is fantastic! The “freaks” that they only hear rumors about in the first book? Oh my goodness!! There’s SO much more to them! I couldn’t get enough of the individuality of each and every character. And as noted in the blurb for the book, there’s another character that’s heavily involved in Walker’s life still – and he’s still alive. Just when you think you know everything about his involvement, bam! Another shocker! And I think in book 3 there’s a heavy potential we’ll find there’s even more to him – even more to ALL the characters.
This book was so incredible in the way it was written to feel like a major build up to a bomb that’s going off in book 3, and I CAN NOT WAIT! Not only to see what will happen, but what else there is to know about these characters. I think we’ve only scratched the surface getting to know them. Book 3 can’t come fast enough!
CL GABER is the author of ASCENDERS, the first book in the ASCENDERS saga. She's also the co-author of the YA book JEX MALONE and the sequel due in 2016. Muggletnet.com, the world's largest Harry Potter site, did a rare review of a non-Potter book and called Ascenders, "a book we wish we could read over and over again." Book 2 in the Ascenders Saga will be published in spring, 2015. A trailer for the book series contains original music by Roger O'Donnell of the iconic rock band The Cure and was produced by Orian Williams ("Control," "Shadow of a Vampire.").
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Excerpt from Ascenders:
I was there. And then I was gone.
My mother gave me no notice that we were relocating.
Suddenly, we had just moved without all that annoying planning and packing. Somehow my clothes were thrown into boxes with shoes that were missing mates. Someone had packed my books and CDs, and had even reached under my bed into that secret hiding place I counted on to protect my treasures; like the iPod loaded with the best and worst of everything from Nirvana to the Stones, plus my lucky green rabbit’s foot—because you just never knew when you would need a little extra luck.
My mother must have remembered the family photo album because there it was on our brand-new living room coffee table that I passed on the way to my very own bedroom and a bed I had never slept in a day in my life.
It was strange because we could barely afford to pay the rent each month, let alone buy something as nice as a hand-carved oak table imported from someplace far, far away. When I had looked, the tag didn’t say from where. It was just imported.
It was one of those times when you go from A to Z so fast that you hardly remember any of the in-between. Or as I—Walker Callaghan—senior at Kennedy High School in suburban Chicago and news editor of the school paper the Charger liked to say, “Maybe it’s not about the happy ending. Maybe it’s about the story.”
Flopping onto my new, handsome, four-poster bed with lovely little tulips carved into the wood, I thought it was so unlike my mother, the master planner, to do something this off-the-cuff. My mother was a woman who made a battle plan to go to the local 7-Eleven for almost-expiration-date milk. Even weirder was the fact that we had moved farther away than anyone imagined. A lot farther.
“So run this by me one more time, Mom,” I shouted. “I must have been heavily medicated or feeling really sorry for myself. We moved? You pulled the trigger. Bang-bang—relocation?”
I didn’t give her time to answer.
“A new school in my senior year of high school?” I called out to her on a murky, cold winter morning on Burning Tree Court.
Even though I was letting the heat escape and Mom had always said we didn’t live to “support Commonwealth Edison,” our old electric company, I still opened my bedroom window wide and found that the air drifting in was stun-your-senses Arctic cold. It smelled green and fresh outside and those dense marshmallow patches of white fluff in the sky could only mean serious snow because they were roasted dark on the bottom.
I tried to shiver, but couldn’t. I was perfectly warm despite the window and the fact that I was wearing faded jeans and a well- washed blue cotton tank that read: Normal People Scare Me.
In true dramatic fashion, I couldn’t resist needling the one person responsible for our fate, our new house, and everything in it that was unknown and strange. “Mom, new school. Senior year. I’ll have no friends here. Are you trying to kill me?”
Without knowing how or why, I was now enrolled in this elite- sounding new school called the Academy, which sounded quite upscale and serious to a girl whose educational pursuits consisted of a generic public-school education outside of a big melting-pot city, where you were either rich (if you were lucky) or you were normal (if you were like everybody else). Our family worked hard at being desperately normal.
“Great, it will be a bunch of rich, stuck-up snobs who will hate me—and cheerleaders. There are always cheerleaders. They’re like cockroaches. You can’t get rid of them,” I concluded, yelling from my new room to hers, which was somewhere down a hallway that I had never really navigated before.
“I hear it’s quite fancy,” Mom called from her room. “A Callaghan going to a private school. Imagine.”
I didn’t have to imagine it as I was living it. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time, but when I had asked that question, Madeleine Callaghan, my mom, the mover and shaker in my life, had cringed and then cried hard into a brand-new washcloth she didn’t recognize—the thick kind we could never afford. The weeper was the one who had given me the odd-for-a-girl first name, which was her maiden name before she married my father, steel worker Sam Callaghan. We weren’t just blue-collar, but faded blue-collar from clothes that had far too many seasons of washings. In our family, the rule was “Don’t throw it out unless it’s dead-dead.”
Running my finger along the smooth wood of my expensive new dresser with the intoxicating just-cut-tree smell, I ducked down on the ground to read the label on the bottom. Imported from R-19877. Really? Did we win the lottery? And what was with the secret spy code?
“Honey, please, I’m begging you,” Mom answered after appearing in my doorway. “For once, let’s not do the Diane Sawyer investigation act. I can’t do twenty rounds of questions. Not today.” Her voice sounded thick like she had a cold, so I closed the window.
“There is no need to insult Diane who probably doesn’t even have a dresser this nice,” I replied.
“Walker, let me make you some breakfast,” Mom said. “Everything is always better after a little oatmeal and orange juice. You’ll see.”
Back home in suburban Chicago, Principal Amanda Stevens was toying with the loudspeaker at Kennedy High School. It was time to make an announcement that drifted across her desk once or twice a year (every year)—and it always pulled her heart right out of her chest. She couldn’t dwell on herself, but had to think of her students. Many of them knew this girl from her work on the school newspaper. What would she say about her? Principal Stevens went through the usual lines in her head: It was a terrible shame. A waste. A tragedy. It was all those sentiments that meant nothing really because they were just words.
This was a heart ripper—dead at seventeen. Good night, Irene.
Ms. S knew that she better just do it. So she clicked the on button on the PA system, took a deep breath, and said what needed to be said. Nothing more. Nothing less.
“I regret to tell the student body that we lost one of our own last night. Walker Callaghan, a well-respected senior and news editor of the Charger, has died.”
She released the on button and grabbed for a bottle of extra- strength aspirin, wishing there was something stronger. Then she clicked the PA back on again. “Of course, counselors are available,” she added.