Ascenders Review


Ascenders: High School for the Recently Departed

by C.L. Gaber

Release Date: April 20th 2015

Summary (from Goodreads)

unspecified (2)Walker Callaghan doesn’t know what happened to her. One minute she was living her teenage life in suburban Chicago…and the next minute, she was in a strange place and in a brand new school with absolutely no homework, no rules, and no consequences.

Walker Callaghan, 17, is dead.

She doesn’t go to heaven or hell. She lands at The Academy, a middle realm where teenagers have one thing in common: They were the morning announcement at their high schools because they died young.

These high school kids are now caught in a strange “in-between” zone where life hasn’t changed very much. In fact, this special teen limbo looks a lot like life in a quaint Michigan town complete with jocks, popular girls and cliques.

“There are even cheerleaders in death,” Walker observes. It’s not a coincidence that the music teacher is a guy named Kurt who “used to have this band.” The drama teacher, Heath, is crush worthy because back in his life, he starred in some superhero movie.

Principal King explains the rules — there are none. Why? You can’t die twice.

There is no homework.

No tests.


You’re just there to learn because the human brain isn’t fully formed until you’re 24.

By the way, you can’t get hurt physically, so race your Harley off that hillside. But falling in love is the most dangerous thing you can do …because no one knows how long you’ll stay in this realm or what’s next.

“Losing someone you love would be like dying twice,” Walker says.

* * * * * *

Walker Callaghan has just arrived at the Academy after a tragic car accident. “Is this heaven or is this high school?” she asks.

She finds out her new life is a bit of both as she falls in love with tat-covered, bad boy Daniel Reid who is about to break the only sacred rule of this place. He’s looking for a portal to return back to the living realm.

He needs just one hour to retrieve his younger brother who strangely never arrived at The Academy. Bobby is an Earth Bound Spirit, stuck at a plane crash site that took both of their lives as their rich father piloted his private jet nose-first into a cornfield on Christmas Eve.

Walker loves Daniel and risks it all to go with him.

Have they learned enough to outsmart dangerous forces while transporting a young child with them? Can their love survive the fragmented evil parts of themselves that are now hunting them down as they try to find a way back to the middle?

At the Academy, you learn the lessons of an after-lifetime.

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My Review

There’s a lot I can say about this book. How unique it is in its plot. How I actually felt like I was reliving high school memories of my own, despite the fact that The Academy is a high school like none other. Also, I really loved the quirky jokes and puns the author slipped in. Even the ones about death, which I never thought would amuse me. This book actually made me nostalgic, especially in the beginning. Perhaps it was the occasional music referenced and urged me to listen right away, or it could have been the mellow, highly accomplished but deceased teachers that spent their afterlife bettering the not so future of mankind. I feel I’m writing in circles but let’s just say this book is a tragic comedy, which is maybe not the best way to put it.

Walker is a 17 year old girl no longer going on 18 and she just started a new ‘life’ in ‘Michigan’. Only she doesn’t remember moving and her mother is acting strange. Also, they have a giant house with lots of pricy tech but no means of communication. Walker is bright, sassy, and intuitive to the people around her which made her a great editor ‘going on reporter’ for her old school paper. Suffice to say, I instantly liked her. On her second day in ‘Michigan’, she meets the allusive, rude, and chiseled Daniel and later his rambunctious siblings. After the initial scope of Daniel’s-perfection from head to toe-features, her unending questions quickly motivate him to show her just what has happened to her.

For some reason the thing that stood out for me the most with Daniel was his habit to actually reach out and physically move people (mostly Walker) out of his way, which was hilarious. I also think it’s a good indicator towards his personality. I really enjoyed all of the different types of characters in this book. Daniel’s siblings are a handful and wonderful to read, especially his interactions with them.

Overall, this book was a very good read with an easy flow of the plot that captured you from very early on. Discovering the each persons’ ‘story’ and the secrets of the school were quite interesting, as well as the plot twists along the way. Walker is a brave girl that takes her death in stride and doesn’t lose her sense of curiosity and generosity to the people around her. This looks like a great beginning to a series and I look forward to reading the sequel.

About the Author

C.L. Gaber is the author of the ASCENDERS SAGA and co author of Jex Malone. A well known entertainment journalist, she lives in Nevada with her husband Ron, bonus daughter Sabrina and two unruly dogs. ASCENDERS 2 is due out in early 2016.

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