Jake Livingston is a “medium” who can see ghosts and ghouls, mostly of people who died violently, replaying their deaths in fading “death loops” on street corners and in schools and just about everywhere. It’s disturbing and distracting and, since they come in his dreams too, exhausting. Jake is also gay, but hasn’t come out yet to anyone. His father is gone, leaving home after beating him for having a gay magazine. But Jake’s worst problem is that he is one of the only Black kids at St Clair Prep, an elite high school in the next town, where he daily encounters both bullying and casual, unrecognized racism.
He has all this pretty much under control until the kid next door is murdered. Matteo Mooney had been a survivor of a school shooting at nearby Heritage High School a year ago. The death loop replaying in Matteo’s home is gruesome, and the ghouls attracted by the death are horrific. Even worse, it looks like Matteo’s murderer is Sawyer Doon, the boy who killed six of his classmates at Heritage before killing himself. But ghosts are not supposed to be able to act on the world of the living.
Jake is unavoidably drawn into the mystery of Matteo’s death, not only because the haunting is next door but because Sawyer (or his ghost) is seemingly attracted to Jake’s power. In order to survive, and to prevent more murders of Heritage students, Jake must untangle Sawyer’s life and death. He must witness the death loops still replaying in chaotic profusion at the high school. It’s an angry and upsetting story, told in gorgeous prose that is almost too poetic for the violent events it describes.