I must be honest and admit that I am a huge fan of Skeleton Creek and, as such, have high expectations for the sequel.
To talk about the sequel, though, I’m going to need to talk about some details from Skeleton Creek. To avoid ruining the surprises, I’m going to place a giant picture of a crow here to warn you of spoilers.
I see Ghost in the Machine by Patrick Carman as an alternate ending to the first book.
Carman gained a huge amount of respect from me by how he left Ryan and Sarah in the dredge in the first book. To think that they would be trapped there forever left me in the same level of awe as when Anthony Horowitz shot Alex Rider at the end of Scorpia (and we knew that he was moving on to the Raven’s Gate series, so we thought that was the end of Alex…Ark Angel and Snakehead took some effort to exceed that feeling of “wow”).
Update: I just talked with a teacher at lunch. She laughed with excitement to hear that Ryan and Sarah had made it. I guess I have too much English teacher running through my blood; I enjoy it when characters die.
Frankly, I was disappointed to see Ryan’s name on the journal.
But then I realized that there were so many questions left unanswered: who’s left of the Crossbones, what’s up with the alchemy, and will Ryan and Sarah ever hook up?
It was in the quest to find those answers that I really enjoyed Ghost in the Machine. This book takes on more of a murder mystery/conspiracy theory style to it.
There are still the suspenseful videos. In fact, I don’t think I learned from my experience of sitting alone in the dark with my MacBook watching the videos for the first book. One in particular, where a character is breaking into someone’s house in the middle of the night, has the whole Rear Window/Disturbia “No! Get out of the house!” vibe to it.
What makes the experience work is that Patrick Carman is a talented screenwriter on top of novel author. His choice of director doesn’t hurt, either.
One part that I liked is a scene where they parody the creepy videos (and an Internet trend) to release some stress during the investigation. Even though I saw the joke coming, it still made me crack up.
It’s a great book that students will enjoy. I don’t see anything wrong with students watching the book’s videos during lunch in the library. The screaming heads may be disruptive to a silent reading program, but I have seen groups of students get behind the first book and catch up on the videos during their off hours. (And I think that’s one of the concepts that I appreciate about Patrick Carman’s experiment. These students are using their own free time to explore more of the story.)
I’m an official fan now. We have a Patrick Carman category on the site.