Haunted by Jeff Mariotte: C-

From the back cover:
Cordelia’s getting her first big break—as a contestant on yet another twist on “reality programming.” The catch? She has to spend five days and four nights in a so-called haunted house. Not a problem for a girl who lives with a ghost and works with a vampire (and even managed to graduate from Sunnydale High School in one piece). She’s a shoo-in.

But there may be more going on behind the scenes than Cordy anticipated. On her first night, she’s wracked with a vision—and it’s of one of the applicants who didn’t make the final cut. Through subtle on-air clue-dropping, she manages to communicate the scenario to Angel and Co., who are instantly on the case. But as Angel, Wesley, and Gunn seek the missing actress, paranormal activity in the house heats up. Once Wolfram & Hart is added to the mix, Cordelia has to wonder which she would rather hold onto—her ticket to certain stardom… or her life…

Haunted takes place during the second season of Angel, some time after the episode “The Thin Dead Line.” Y’know, the one with the zombie cops. That’s actually episode 14, so towards the end of that season, after all the Darla angst.

This book is pretty freakin’ lame and boring. It features Cordelia, and so I mistakenly thought it might be fun, and now I’m bummed that I’d saved this one for last. It only cements my decision to lay off the Angel books for a while. The B plot mystery, regarding the applicant who didn’t make the cut who Cordelia has a vision about, is completely dumb. By page 113, it’s abundantly clear what is going on. Sustaining interest in it for 200 more pages is not possible. Trudge would be an apt description of my progress through these segments. How plots A and B ultimately intertwine is the epitome of flimsy.

So, in addition to a lackluster story, the editing is pretty horrid, too! There’s one scene in particular, where six contestants are left in the haunted house. The book names them. There are clearly six. Then the host says, “There are five of you…” And then he reads the results of the eviction vote and they total seven! No sneaky ghost has cast a vote, either, because no one reacts to the incorrect tally. In another scene, when only three contestants are left, Cordelia’s lounging on a couch while ‘several of the other contestants’ are hanging around, too. Eh? Two does not constitute several, and it would still be weird if they’d said ‘a couple of the other’ because these two have been referred to by name many times before and are again in the next paragraph. It’s like saying ‘Harry encountered a three-headed-dog and a couple of other students were there, too.’

The writing’s not as good as the others by Mariotte, either. Some thoughts and dialogue don’t seem entirely in character, nothing actually amusing happens… I could go more in depth, but enduring ’til the end has sapped my strength. I’m eager to put this one behind me.

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