Soulless by Christopher Golden
The dead travel fast.
Times Square, New York City: The first ever mass séance is broadcasting live on the Sunrise morning show. If it works, all the spirits of the departed on the other side will have a brief window - just a few minutes - to send a final message to their grieving loved ones.
Clasping hands in an impenetrable grip, three mediums call to their spirit guides as the audience looks on in breathless anticipation. Then the mediums slump over, slack-jawed - catatonic. And in cemeteries surrounding Manhattan, fragments of old corpses dig themselves out of the ground . . .
The spirits have returned. The dead are walking. They will seek out those who loved them in life, those they left behind . . . but they are savage and they are hungry. They are no longer your mother or father, your brother or sister, your best friend or lover. They are soulless.
The horror spreads quickly, droves of the ravenous dead seeking out those they left behind - shredding flesh from bone, feeding. But a disparate group of unlikely heroes - two headstrong college rivals, a troubled gang member, a teenage pop star and her bodyguard - is making its way to the center of the nightmare, fighting to protect their loved ones, fighting for their lives, and fighting to end the madness.
Are you ready to join the fight of your life?
Why I Highly Recommend Soulless
With its wide variety of characters, overlapping stories, and fast-paced plotting, Soulless will appeal to teens of both genders and throughout the teen age. Golden's third-person narrative permits the reader to get inside the minds of the various leading characters, who represent different socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, even orientations - but all have a common goal, to bring this crisis to an end, and that is why their crossing-of-paths is inevitable and enjoyable. There's more to this book than meets the eye: it will hook readers with its eerie plotline and keep them turning pages due to the action and great writing, but all the while, it will really make them think. With its exploration of life and death, fear and family, love and loss, Soulless is a memorable book sure to inspire weighty conversations between readers.
Start at the Very Beginning
Manhattan, New York City
Curtains of punishing rain fell upon the sea of dark umbrellas populating the Manhattan sidewalks, commuters hurrying to get to work on time. From the tenth-floor studio, Times Square looked like a massive, sprawling funeral. The sky above the city hung low and black, a shroud of storm.
"Perfect weather for talking to the dead," Phoenix whispered, staring out through the plate-glass window.
She leaned her forehead against the glass. Well done. Talking to yourself always helps. For a second, she'd forgotten she wasn't alone in the room. Phoenix turned around and smiled at Katie Phelan, whose job, apparently, was to take care of whoever was in the Green Room waiting to go on the set of Sunrise, the network's morning news show.
"Why do you call it the Green Room?" she asked, ignoring Katie's question.
The woman -- at most four years older than Phoenix's eighteen, though her shortish dark hair made her look younger -- seemed perplexed. "Any time you're on a talk show, or in a play or something, the room where you wait before you go on is the Green Room."
Phoenix smiled. "Yeah, but why is it called the Green Room? The room's not even green."
The lower half of the walls was lavender, the upper half an off-white. There were a trio of love seats in muted colors, a quartet of armchairs that were too fancy for a dentist's waiting room but not quite plush enough for anyone to buy them for their living room, and an entire symphony of end tables, coffee tables, and floor lamps. Snack bowls dotted the tables and an oblong window opened into a tiny bar area, which was dark at the moment. Nobody was going to be mixing Phoenix a drink, but there was a tall, glass-front cooler full of sodas, juices, and flavored waters beside the bar, and one of those little machines that made the perfect single cup of whatever coffee, tea, or hot chocolate beverage you wanted.
Nothing at all green, unless you counted some of the M&M's in the bowl on a round table beside her chair.
Glancing around, entirely mystified, Katie gave her a small smile and a shrug. "I don't have a clue. Never thought about it, really. Anyway, look, your father and the others are getting settled. They'll be doing the intro in a couple of minutes. Do you want to take your seat in the audience now?"
Phoenix actually had to think about that. She had never been entirely comfortable with her father's work. Did she want to sit in the audience and experience it with a bunch of strangers or watch from backstage, where she didn't have to hide her skepticism?
"Are they believers out there?" she asked.
Katie glanced at the door as though she could see through it with Supergirl X-ray vision. Sunrise had just finished its first hour. Local affiliates would be doing their headlines and forecasts right now. The second hour of the morning news show was scheduled to be devoted entirely to the conversation about death and spiritualism and ghosts that the presence of her father and his colleagues always prompted.
"A lot of them," Katie replied. "And the rest are mostly folks who'd like to believe."
Continue to read the excerpt.
Visit the Soulless website for more information about the book and the author. Also download creepy wallpapers and icons, like the one I'm using on this post!
Soulless by Christopher Golden
Trade paperback released in October 2008 from MTV Books
Shelved in teen fiction at bookstores and libraries
Recommended for ages 13 and up
Loving the Undead: My Longer Review and Summary of Soulless
It was supposed to be controlled. It was supposed to be a seance led by the nation's three top mediums, televised for the masses. It was supposed to be a way for the living to get some closure, to move on after speaking to their loved ones who had passed on. It wasn't supposed to raise the dead.
The corpses that rise from their graves are not compassionate, nor are gentle. They are violent, hungry, and soulless. They are intent on getting home, and will attack anyone that gets in their way. Meanwhile, those directly involved in the seance - the mediums and the two newsanchors - have sunk into a comatose state. Their hands are firmly grasped together, and nothing and no one can separate them.
Christopher Golden's return to young adult fiction ought to be celebrated. Earlier this year, Poison Ink seeped into the brains of readers. Now, the zombies in Soulless seek to feast on those brains, and those who dare to fight the undead may not live to speak of the tale.
I'll speak for them instead. After all, I've been talking about this book non-stop since I finished reading it.
I highly recommend Soulless to fans of horror movies and novels. It is far and away the best of the many zombie-themed books that came out in 2008. Soulless is so action-packed that I've taken to calling it a movie bound in a book. From the start of the ill-fated seance to its bitter end, the pacing never falters. The main characters - including the daughter of one of the mediums, a couple of college students, and a pop singer whose personal business is often splashed across the cover of tabloids - weave in and out of each other's journeys with ease and overlapping storylines. The book's action sequences and rise of average people and headstrong teens as leaders in the fight will appeal to fans of Heroes.
Of course, all good zombie stories have violence, decay, and destruction, and Soulless has all of that without ever being gory for gore's sake. It raised not only the dead, but many thought-provoking questions: Do we want to see our loved ones again after they pass away? If they return as zombies, unlike their living selves, would they be better left to rest in peace?
With its many twists and turns, Soulless kept me guessing. Trust me - You'll devour this book in one sitting.
Spreading the Fear - and the Love
I included Soulless on my Best Books of 2008 list.
I also named Soulless one of The Most Promising October Releases for Teens in an article for SparkNotes.
Soulless was one of the selections for Night Bites, a readergirlz project related to Teen Read Week.
When Eisha, Adrienne, and I talked about Generation Dead, I couldn't help but bring up Soulless.
Read Cynthia Leitich Smith's October 2008 interview with Christopher Golden.
What happens when a guy and a girl discuss this book? Check out He Said, She Said: Soulless.
Watch the awesome book trailer made by Jen from TeenReadsToo.