Casey's Reviews,  Paranormal Romance,  Young Adult Romance

Book Review: High School for the Recently Departed (Ascenders Saga #1) by C.L. Gaber


Title:  High School for the Recently Departed (Ascenders Saga #1)

Author:  C.L. Gaber

Genre:  Young Adult, Paranormal Romance

Release Date:  April 20, 2015


Blurb:  THE ASCENDERS Takes You To the In-between Where Teens Who Died Young Go On the Epic Adventure of an After-Lifetime.

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, 16, 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 that 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 as the Joker.

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. Walker falls hard for 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.
Ascenders….An epic adventure of an after-life time.


Casey’s Review

Rating: 4.25 Stars



Life just got really strange for Walker Callaghan. All of a sudden, during the middle of her senior year of high school, she finds herself in a new town, and in a new house and enrolled in a private school that her mother could never afford, with no memory of how she got there. Things just don’t seem right in this new place that she now calls home. Her mother evades all of her questions about where they are and why they suddenly moved. Hew new school doesn’t give tests. She falls into an icy pond and drowns, but doesn’t die…

Turns out, you can’t die twice when you’re already dead.


She’s not in heaven or hell, or even purgatory, but somewhere in-between.

“No, this isn’t heaven. It isn’t hell. It’s high school.” 

The Academy, Walker’s new school, is a place where teenagers go during the afterlife until they are mature enough to move on. It’s a pretty cool place to be when the music teacher is Kurt Cobain, Steve Jobs is the “fruit appreciation” teacher, Heath Ledger and Robin Williams teach drama, and Chris Farley and John Belushi are the health teachers. And it’s also where she meets the school’s bad boy, Daniel Reid. The school doesn’t have any rules, except for one: You can never go back to the living realm. But that’s exactly what Daniel Reid plans on doing because there’s something, or someone, there he left behind when he departed and he intends on going back for it.


I’ve always been fascinated with the supernatural and this story was such an interesting, unique and imaginative take on the afterlife. Although I’ve never been a big fan of YA because I like my books to be heavier on the romance, I really enjoyed C.L. Gaber’s first book in the Ascenders Saga. It was fun and exciting and had me hooked from the beginning until the end. It was so different than my normal reads and unlike anything I’ve ever read before, which was like a breath of fresh air for me. The concept of this book was so fascinating that it really makes you think about what comes after life… about where we go and how the choices in this life affect the next.

The storytelling and the world building are captivating and highly creative. The characters are extremely lovable. This is only the first book in the series and it’s already something that I can see being made into a TV series perfect for the CW or MTV networks, or even Netflix. It’s highly entertaining.

“There are ghosts everywhere . . . in old houses, in that doll with the peculiar gaze, in the wispy clouds dancing across the night moon. Ghosts aren’t frightening, but are our companions; and they wait patiently in those murky corners of our lives. If only the living knew that when a beam of light catches a shadow that shouldn’t be there, they are not hallucinating. It is there. And it’s not just a shadow.” 


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