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Meg Cabot – The Mediator series, books 1-3: Shadowland, Ninth Key & Reunion

July 15, 2016

Cabot, Meg - Shadowland - 400Cabot, Meg - Ninth Key - 400Cabot, Meg - Reunion - 400Re-reads. Shadowland, Ninth Key, and Reunion by Meg Cabot (2000, 2001, 2001)
The Mediator, Books 1-3

Length: 304 pages each
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance/Mystery

Originally Read: 11-23 January 2007
Re-read Started: 27 March 2016
Re-read Finished: 09 April 2016

Where did it come from? I got Shadowland from the library booksale, then the other five books in the series from a friend who I convinced to read them, but she didn’t want to wait for me to return the library’s copies of the latter books, so she bought and read them all but then gave them to me in a decluttering effort. Friends like that are great to have. :)
Why do I have it? Oooh, I have no idea why I picked it up in the first place. (Actually, I think it was because the sixth book in the series is called Twilight and it had come about the same time as that *other* Twilight and I heard a lot of buzz about one of them and I couldn’t remember about which and so I wanted to read them both. Ah, youth.) I decided to re-read them because Cabot had a new book in the series coming out, over a decade later.

Suze can deal with the
angry ghosts, but not the hot
one in her bedroom.

I’m reviewing these books as a group rather than individually, since a lot of what I have to say about them applies to the series as a whole, rather than any individual entry, and I’d rather not repeat myself six times.

Summary: Suzannah (Suze) Simon is not exactly your normal teenage girl: she’s a mediator, which means she can see and hear ghosts (and punch them, if needed). And since no one knows her secret, her work in convincing the dead to move on usually winds up with her getting into trouble she can’t explain. When her mom remarries and moves Suze from New York City out to Northern California, Suze hopes that the biggest problem that she’ll have to deal with is her three annoying new stepbrothers. But that’s before she meets Jesse – an incredibly hot young rancher who has been dead for 150 years… and is currently haunting Suze’s bedroom.

Shadowland sets up the general premise of the series, outlined above, and also has Suze navigating the process of starting in a new school, making new friends (and enemies), etc. All of this is complicated by the ghost of one of the popular girls at school, who is not pleased that she’s dead, and is really not pleased that her former boyfriend is now paying attention to Suze… and is going to make sure that Suze bears the full brunt of that displeasure.

In Ninth Key, an attractive and wealthy young man named Tad Beaumont maybe starts to like Suze, but a wrench is put into the works by a shrieking ghost in Suze’s bedroom. This woman repeatedly appears to tell Suze to tell Red that he didn’t kill her. Suze thinks she’s referring to Tad’s dad, Red Beaumont, but the more she looks into it, the stranger the Beaumont family history starts to seem. Sure, Suze knows that ghosts are real, but is it really possible that Tad’s father could be a vampire?

In Reunion, Suze’s friend Gina – one of the few people who has an inkling that Suze is more than she appears – is visiting from NYC, but her vacation is interrupted by a group of four unruly ghosts. They’re popular kids from the other high school in town, and they died in a car accident in which they drove off a cliff on the coastal highway after a school dance. But they’re not interested in moving on – not when their deaths were so unfair – and Suze may be putting herself and everyone around her in danger from their attentions.

Review: These books are great brain candy – light, fast, and fun, with a very appealing leading man. The first three books in the series feel sort of like “ghost-of-the-week” episodes – the focus is much more on the current ghost, while the plot development in terms of Suze and Jesse’s relationship (or lack thereof, in these early books) is much more in the background. While I appreciate the slow burn romance (and while six books might seem like a lot, they read so fast that it’s really not that slow), the success of the “ghost-of-the-week” format really varies with how interesting that ghost is.

Shadowland is doing a lot of the work of setting up the world and the characters, but it’s got a pretty solid plot as well. Heather (the ghost) is pissed off and powerful, she’s believable and scary, and the steps Suze takes to get rid of her work well both in service of the plot and in setting up the rules for how ghosts and mediators work. Cabot does have some writing tics – mainly relying too heavily on character quirks or running “jokes” – that get old very quickly, even in the first book in the series. 4 out of 5 stars.

Ninth Key is probably the weakest book in the series. Book 2 is not the time to deviate from the “pissed off ghost” formula that you’ve barely established as a formula yet, and I find the whole vampire subplot to be unnecessarily silly and not really believable in and of itself, or within the confines of the world Cabot has built. For example, it strikes me as highly unlikely that Father Dom (the priest/principal of Suze’s high school, and another mediator) would believe in vampires right off the bat, even given that he knows ghosts are real. The resolution when Suze figures out what’s going on with the story’s lone ghost (the wailing woman) is quite emotional, though. 3 out of 5 stars.

Reunion is back to the “Suze deals with angry ghosts” format, and is a solid story, if not quite as good as the first one. The personalities of the four ghosts maybe aren’t as distinct as they could be, but they still make for effective peril for Suze, and the mystery (of why they’re still here and haven’t moved on yet) is well-built and interesting. I also feel like Jesse gets a little more to do in this story as well – not only swooping in to rescue Suze when she needs it – which is nice. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Total fluff, but fun total fluff (and published before the recent boom in teen paranormal romance, which is something). If the description “ghost of a hot 150-years-dead Hispanic cowboy haunting your bedroom” sounds appealing (and boy howdy, is the ghost in question appealing!), then they’re definitely worth a read; they’d be ideal for on a plane or by the pool. The first three are more-or-less stand-alone – you’d miss some character development, but the plots aren’t particularly interconnected – but they’re so fast you may as well start at the beginning.

Shadowland: This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | Amazon
The Ninth Key: This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | Amazon
Reunion: This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | Amazon

Other Reviews: Find them at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Lines:
Shadowland: They told me there’d be palm trees.
The Ninth Key: Nobody told me about the poison oak.
Reunion: “Now this,” Gina said, “Is the life.”

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