The synopsis reads: 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.
A virtual world where you can see your deceased loved ones again? I'll readily admit that I was sceptical. Following the story of 16-year-old Alice Forster as she struggles to cope with life after her older sister Meggie's death, I found this book gripping from start to finish, despite my reservations. Soul Beach is essentially purgatory, limbo, whatever name you have for it. When Alice first receives the emails from Soul Beach, she assumes the obvious - that someone is playing a trick on her and a sick trick at that! When she receives another email, with information only Meggie would know, she begins to take notice and soon finds herself drawn into the online presence of the beach itself.
There are plenty of characters in this novel to love and loathe: both 'on' the beach and in the real world. I loved Alice as a character, although I did feel that she was a little harsh to those around her sometimes, even given the circumstances. The police are investigating Meggie's murder throughout the novel and there are plenty of people to suspect. Both Alice's mum and the press believe her murderer to be her boyfriend Tim but I found him to be a little weak and too obvious. I can never begin to understand what the parents of murdered children must go through but I found Alice's mum irritating from start to finish. Her staunch belief that Tim is guilty, the way she treats Alice and her father...it's all a little odd.
Alice soon finds herself falling in love...there is just one little problem. The boy she loves is dead. I loved the way the romance was built up throughout the novel, slowly emerging in the background but never overtaking the main focus of the story; finding out who Meggie's murderer truly is.
As this is a trilogy, you can imagine there were some loose ends at the end of this book but it leads the way perfectly into the sequel.
This is definitely worth a read if you're a fan of this genre of novel. The second book in the series, Soul Fire, is also out now - but beware, there will be a wait for the third in the series - I'm anxiously awaiting the release date!
5 star rating from me!