Here’s what sold me on reading Andrea J. Buchanan’s Gift, an enhanced ebook due out next week: It’s a ghost story that is itself haunted. As in, words and pictures appear on the page, sometimes moving on the page, upping the goosebump factor beyond the story’s actual events. What hooked me: When perfect-boy love interest Kevin sings to protagonist Daisy, we actually get to hear the song. And since I like to share, I’m presenting you readers with the exclusive premiere of that song, “Don’t Look Back,” written by Buchanan and the real-life absolutely swoonworthy Swedish Youtube fave FreddeGredde, along with a second song that appears in the book, “Is It All Right?” Listen now to get in the mood before I tell you more about the book.
Daisy is an electric girl, literally. She regularly breaks appliances, shorts out computers and shocks people if she’s not careful. Consequently, she’s a bit of a loner, but she has an understanding best friend, Danielle, and a very encouraging 10th grade English teacher who sends her to help troubled student Vivi when she disappears to the bathroom. Vivi, it turn out, was trying to end her troubles by downing a bottle of pills. Or, well, maybe things aren’t that simple. When Danielle and Daisy start to have the same dream of being friends in the 19th century, Vivi tells them it all has to do with a ghost named Patrick who’s been visiting her since she was a little girl.
To reveal any more plot would spoil the mystery and mood of Gift. (I’ll just say there’s an old-timey murder mystery that puts the present-day girls in a whole lot of danger.) Buchanan, who wrote the nonfiction best-seller The Daring Book for Girls, came up with all these spooky interactive concepts for the iPad version of the book, published by Open Road Media (you can watch the book trailer here). Thankfully, she also came up with a good story that doesn’t rely on tricks and gimmicks, especially since regular Kindle and Nook versions can’t use all of them). I do wish the full version would work on my fancy new Kindle Fire. And I also wish the special features were more evenly spread throughout the book — they don’t begin until chapter 11. It’s clear that this is all still in the experimental phase, and that no one wanted to mess too much with the narrative structure of the story. But the animated words, the active link to a character’s Youtube page, and the appendix that includes Danielle’s hilarious diary, Vivi’s graphic novel and more of Kevin’s songs and lyrics give us a taste of what can be done in the medium. It’s a good first step to making ebooks more than just fancy paper replacements.
[Photos: Open Road Media, FreddeGredde.com]