Review: Ghost

ghostBook: Ghost (2016)
Author: Jason Reynolds
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars

Basic Plot: Ghost is good at running, ever since that night when he and his mom had to run away from his dad. So, when he joins a track team, he’s good, but not as good as he thinks. It isn’t long before Ghost realizes that part of his problem is that he doesn’t have the right tools to be the best on the track. And in the world of track, the right tools means the right kind of running shoes.


1) I love running stories, so this one was right up my alley! I liked the scene where Ghost first comes across the track team. And I enjoyed the peek into the subsequent training sessions.

2) The friendship that develops with the track newbies was great. I loved Patty and Sunny. Lu was a little weird, but I kind of liked him as well.

3) The Coach was just awesome. I like how he drives a taxi… I like how he connects with the kids. How he’s tough on them, and yet obviously enjoys what he’s doing.

4) I absolutely love Ghost’s voice in this story. It comes through beautifully and made me want to root for him.

5) Kudos to the person who designed the cover of this book. I love how Ghost is running so fast, that he’s running off the page. And we don’t even get to see his face!


1) The secrets they tell at the restaurant… Man! These kids hardly know each other and they’re spilling their deepest, darkest secrets. All of them. And then when they challenge their coach to tell his secret? I was like… what? That’s not even a secret. You let these kids reveal things (in fact, you even encouraged these kids) to tell you a secret and you pretend that your secret is on par with theirs? (Not that I think the coach should have revealed a deep, dark secret to these kids. Actually, I’m just a little ticked off at the author for making these revelations come with little to no work. It makes the secrets almost trivial. Where’s the subtext? Where’s the drama? Where are the set-ups and pay-offs?Why aren’t you saving to reveal true secrets for later on?)

2) The climax of the story seems to be the one with the shoes. [SPOILER] It’s a good idea for a climax. But I feel it was mishandled. This is where revelations needed to happen. This is where Ghost needed to be afraid that he had lost Coach’s respect forever. Then take that angst and drama and bring it to the track. [END SPOILER] Unfortunately, this is not quite how it plays out. Which is a pity.

3) At the end of the story… [SPOILER] Ghost is about to run his first race when he meets his arch-nemesis at the track. (This is in the FINAL pages of the book.) Here’s how Ghost puts it: “No way. No Freakin’. Way. He ran? He ran? By now you know who I’m talking about. Brandon Simmons.” Actually, Ghost, I had no idea that name was going to pop up here. I had no idea, whatsoever. [END SPOILER] This reveal just wasn’t set up. It just came out of nowhere!!

4) The ending was weird. [Possible SPOILER] There’s a big lead-up to the race at the end of the book. And just as we get to the starting line, BAM, it’s over. Not that I needed to know who wins the race. Actually that part didn’t bother me. I felt confused over what led up to that moment. In other words: the climax. It’s like it was all mixed up. Reynolds re-introduces the main bullies within paragraphs of the final sentence, and nothing comes of it! (See Spoiler above.) Like, what happened there? I want to know. [END SPOILER] Perhaps it was too short a book. I felt like it could have benefited from another chapter or two.


My rating is 3 Stars (out of 5) – This book started out as a 5-star book. I was loving it. Then it went down to a 4-star near the middle, for some minor plot points. By the end, we were down to 3 stars. Frankly, the end was a disappointment. It’s like Reynolds lost the thread of his story. I felt this book could have gone through another edit, to be honest. Perhaps several more edits. I love, love, love the premise. I loved the characters. I know there are some sequels. I’m not sure if I will give them a shot. Maybe one more shot?


Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Don’t you just love that book cover? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


8 thoughts on “Review: Ghost

  1. Thanks for a very thorough review. I can’t stand it when the big reveal comes out of nowhere. I’ve been known to throw a book across the room when that happens. I read one James Patterson book in my life and the murderer was a total surprise. That’s why I won’t read any more of his books. I think I will pass on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The reveals in this book didn’t so much come out of the blue, as they came too soon so as to leave the ending dry and unemotional.

      I wish this book had had just a tad more input from a good editor. I feel it all could have been fixed with a little editing. And my question is: where was the editor on this book?!

      It had so much potential.


  2. I kind of liked that the ending doesn’t reveal the result of the race since so many sports stories use victories to validate all the character’s time/sacrifices. So…sports aren’t worth it if you lose? What is the message here? But I did read that the sequel, Patina, tells the result of the race. I haven’t read Patina so I still don’t know!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I agree with you 100% that that part of the ending was excellent… the ambiguity of it all. Did he or didn’t he win? (The truth is, it doesn’t matter if he wins the actual race. That’s not what the book is about.)

      What I didn’t like was that a lot of important moments seemed to happen at the wrong time. Too early in most cases. I felt that the emotional timing was off. I did love the character of Ghost, though.

      I have Patina ready to read. I’m interested to see what he does with this next book. (I’m also a little scared to read it, though.)


      • I did have questions about that meal. If someone asked me to tell a secret to people I’d never met, I’m fairly certain I’d lead off with something less personal! I get the bonding aspect, but people also bond over their love of fantasy novels or whatever. You don’t have to make kids tell near-strangers their deepest, darkest stories!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, the meal! That was the beginning of the end for me. I was waiting for Ghost to say something about how he likes sunflower seeds. Which would have worked really well later on when he reveals the connection between his father and the sunflower seeds.

        If I had a time machine, I’d go back and warn Jason Reynolds when he was writing that scene. (Would he believe me, though?)

        Oh, by the way, I just finished Patina. I really enjoyed that one. 🙂 Will be posting a review next week. Now on to Sunny!


      • Yeah… I think the meal felt a little weird because one person shared something very personal. Then you have to question whether the others felt they were safe to do so, or if they felt pressured to do so. Like they weren’t be considered “good sports” if they didn’t share something just as personal.

        I’m glad to hear Patina is good! I’ll wait for your review! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Review: Patina | Of Maria Antonia

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