Title: On the Day I Died
Author: Candace Fleming
Number of Pages: 208
Target Age: 6th through 9th grade
Summary: In a lonely Illinois cemetery one cold October night, teen ghosts recount the stories of their deaths in different time periods, from 1870 to the present, to sixteen-year-old Mike, who unknowingly picked up a phantom hitchhiker.
Plot: This book is filled with short stories (nine total, each being about 20 pages long), so, clearly, there are multiple plots in this book. Some were cheesy (David), some didn’t make much sense (Rich), and some really were creepy (Gina, Edgar, Lily, Scott). Mostly, the plots were easy to follow and fast-paced, and I was eager to find out how each character died (Gee, that sounds really sick). But it this isn’t just a collection of short stories — each is part of the main plot of the whole book.
Characters: I really loved most of the characters; they were so quirky, and knowing that they were going to die made me feel bad for them. I liked how they all had different manners of speaking. My favorite character was probably Tracy — she was sassy and curious, sort of like me.
The one character I found hard to like was Evelyn, 1877 – 1893. She hated her twin sister Blanche and often imagined scenarios where Blanche was dying. I have an annoying older brother, so I understand that she would sometime loathe Blanche, but thinking of ways for her to die seemed like overkill, and made Evelyn hard to like.
Writing: Candace Fleming did a really good job describing the scenes and getting inside the characters’ minds. If they were scared, I was scared.
The first ghost to appear reminded me of the song Bringing Mary Home by The Country Gentlemen. I decided to ignore that it was a copy of the song; after all, with so many stories already published, it’s hard to come up with an idea that’s 100% original.
Cover: I think that the cover, with its wilted flowers and gravestones, adds to the creepy atmosphere of the story. But the colors just strike me as sickly.
Other Comments: On the Day I Died isn’t the sort of book I would normally pick up. My best friend Izzy insisted I read it . . . so I did. It was the first book I’ve ever read from the horror genre, and if you think you’d like scary stories but aren’t sure where to start, I’d recommend this one. It’s creepy enough to keep you thinking about it and telling the stories to your friends, but not enough to make you too scared to go to sleep.