If you are looking for a captivating novella, Lauren Harris’s Exorcising Aaron Nguyen is a great option. I had the pleasure of meeting Lauren at Yallfest–you can visit her on Twitter @marksmaster–and she told me about her book. I listened to the audiobook, which you can get off of Audible if you’re interested. Even though the audiobook wasn’t very long (2 hours, 41 minutes), it took me a while to finish because I only listen to audiobooks when I’m washing dishes, folding clothes, or traveling. And then I got so busy I couldn’t write the review. But I’m finally getting it done now!
Synopsis: Aaron Nguyen was murdered at his Catholic school, Millroad Academy, but he isn’t completely gone. His ghost still haunts the students and teachers. Millroad student Hiroki can see ghosts and he’s determined to help Aaron move on. So, Hiroki and best friend Georgia seek to find Aaron’s murderers. But dealing with Aaron and following the murderers’ trail is not as easy as Georgia hoped it would be.
Before I get into the actual story, I need to just say that Lauren is a fantastic narrator. Her voice is so soothing, but not in a I-want-to-fall-asleep way, more like angels-are-whispering-into-my-ear kind of way. She could probably narrate any book and my ears would cry of happiness. And, of course, her different tones of voice for each character was perfect because she knew her characters so well and how they should sound.
Sooooo, speaking of characters. My favorite is Georgia. How can she not be everyone’s favorite? She has flaws, struggles in life, and is absolutely relatable. Everything that she says feels like a friend talking to me. Raise your hand if you want to be Georgia’s best friend? (I’m definitely raising my hand!) My second favorite has to be the Bishop. He’s misunderstood, but I think he has a heart of gold, and there are moments where it shines through. I find him adorable. Hiroki was obviously very important (see above synopsis), but I just didn’t take a liking to him. I didn’t dislike him, more like I felt indifference towards him. Oh well.
Lauren’s writing is great! Fair warning: Lots of cursing. I generally have an aversion to cursing–much like Warner from Shatter Me–but it worked here. Georgia has a foul mouth, but I still love her because it fits her personality so, so, so well. Also, Lauren is fantastic at coming up with chapter titles. A lot of authors opt out of doing this, so it was nice that Lauren included them and managed to create such wonderful titles.
I don’t want to spoil any of the plot, but I will say that it’s intriguing. I just never understand how students are able to get more ahead of trained police officers in stories. How?! (Not just in this story, but any story. I mean I get it’s fiction, but the world that’s built is this world that we live in. Is it just me that feels this way?) Regardless, the scene with the chess game was so captivating (and I find chess boring, so you’ll have to read/listen to the book to know what I mean), and Georgia sneaking around the school always made for funny/awkward scenes that I enjoyed.
Exorcising Aaron Nguyen gets 4.5 out of 5 stars from me!