Reviewed by Christy H.
In the early 2000s, Meg Cabot had a big hit with her Princess Diaries series. But at the time she was also writing several other young adult series including a couple under the pseudonym Jenny Carroll. These two series, 1-800-Where-R-You and The Mediator, were my personal favorites but they seemed to fall by the wayside for Princess Mia’s adventures.
So much to my surprise, and twelve years after the last installment, Cabot has released a new book in the Mediator series for adult readers. A quick primer: Suze was a teenager who had the ability to see and speak to ghosts – also known as a mediator. She used this gift to help the ghosts find closure and move on to the other side. It was a pretty straight forward job until her family moved into a new house, and she met a cute and charming ghost named Jesse de Silva. And promptly fell in love with him. Remembrance picks up with an adult Suze Simon navigating life after college graduation and planning her upcoming wedding to the no longer dead Jesse (long story). Oh, and she can still see dead people.
As if planning a wedding, searching for gainful employment, and helping ghosts find eternal peace isn’t stressful enough, Suze now has to deal with her former classmate and fellow mediator Paul Slater forcing his way back into her life. Paul has bought Suze’s former family home – the place where Suze and Jesse met for the first time. Paul threatens to have it demolished which he insists will bring paranormal havoc to Suze and Jesse’s happy relationship. Destroying a ghost’s former resting place is apparently a no-no, even if said ghost is alive again. Paul, however, will resist bulldozing the house if Suze agrees to a date – one that includes physical intimacy– so he can prove that he’s no longer the aggressive, overbearing boy he was in high school. Makes sense.
Despite the synopsis, not a whole lot happens in this book. Well, I suppose it does but the interesting parts don’t take place until more than half way in. Suze sees a ghost then talks about it (and her past) on the phone. A lot. I didn’t really mind Suze’s clunky exposition at first; it had been so long a little refresher was fine. But then she started explaining things that we had already read about, and it grew tedious. It was just extra padding because there is no reason this book should be as long as it is.
And on a completely unrelated note, why does Suze constantly correct people over the relationship with her stepbrothers and nieces? (“He’s my stepbrother. Those are my stepnieces.”) It was just so odd to me; especially to say it in front of three little girls who Suze supposedly adores. (Hearing my favorite aunt constantly correct people over that wouldn’t make me feel so good.) Even her stepbrother’s wife corrects him when he refers to Suze as his sister. I honestly had to re-read that line because it was so rude and petty. It’s not as if they hate each other (they all get along really well) so it was bizarre.
Over all, it was just ok. It was pretty slow, and grown up Suze still acted like teenage Suze. I didn’t hate it, but most of my goodwill is nostalgia love. I do wonder if I went back and read the other books I loved so much – would I be disappointed in them too? Or has Meg Cabot’s writing become halfhearted? Maybe both. If she continues to write Mediator books, I’d be willing to give it another shot. I just hope she puts a little more life in this series, no pun intended.