When Alice Forster receives an email from her dead sister she assumes it must be a sick practical joke. But then it has details that only her sister would know. And shortly after, Alice receives an invitation 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 her sister, Megan Forster? And could Alice be next?
I've never read anything by Kate Harrison, which is probably expected because she usually writes for adults, so I wasn't sure what to expect from SOUL BEACH. I had a feeling that I would enjoy it though, because that synopsis sounded killer.
Alice is still grieving over her dead sister, Megan, and then receives an email which is apparently from said sister. Who is dead. At first, she assumes the emails are somebody's sick idea of a joke. But then she discovers that this place, this Soul Beach, is real. Alice can hear the sea and feel the sand between her fingers...and she can talk to her sister by visiting this world from her laptop.
The whole idea with the virtual world where you can meet with your loved ones was fascinating. At first I do admit it seemed quite hard to believe, but as I read on, it pulled me in. The catch kept things fresh and original. I've read a few YA books that are based around life after death, but they usually go towards the zombie/ghost route, none of them have ever been introduced to a paradise-like online world!
SOUL BEACH ended with a cliff-hanger and oh so many unanswered questions that I'm *still* raging about, almost a year after I've finished it. I really need to know what happens next, the mystery surrounding Megan's murder and why she was murdered in particular. Fortunately for me, the sequel, Soul Fire has been released now.
The romance in the story didn't really work for me, I think it felt a bit under-developed and cliched at times, and I thought the last third-ish of the book was a bit rushed, but apart from that, I really do recommend this. I found Alice's addiction to Soul Beach really interesting. I don't know for sure, but there seemed to be some kind of hidden message in that aspect, portraying the way teenagers today have an addiction to social networking sites and I liked how Harrison presented Alice's feelings of being more alive in a virtual world rather than the real world. That's like me and Twitter (lol). SOUL BEACH is a thought-provoking, dark YA debut from Kate Harrison.
“Lightning flashes outside my bedroom window, almost dazzling me I'm so close to the eyes of the storm now, and thunder follows immediately. No one on the Beach flinches, of course.”