Book: The Wish List
Author: Eoin Colfer
Meg Finn's got a problem. See, she's dead. Wait, that's not the problem. The problem is, she died with her soul so perfectly in balance that she can't go to either heaven or hell. So now she's got to return to earth and hopefully nudge it a little further onto the positive side. To do that, she's been assigned to help Lowrie McCall complete his "wish list."
Lowrie is dying, alone except for a chestful of regrets. But his wish list is going to change that. All the times in his life when he should have done one thing and instead did another, he wants to fix. Sure, he can't go back in time and kiss that beautiful girl that eventually married his best friend. But he can find her today. But only with Meg's help. And if Meg's erstwhile partner-in-crime (literally), the now-demonic Belch, has his way, even Meg's best efforts won't do the trick.
Best known for his deliciously amoral teenage genius, Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer succeeds in creating more truly memorable characters, and in not preaching in a story where the primary tension is between heaven and hell. Meg has a good heart, but she's hardly a shoo-in for the wings and the harp. Lowrie is not pitiful and pathetic, nor does Colfer overdo the crusty-old-fart stereotype when drawing this character. Even the reps from heaven and hell (St. Peter and Beelzebub, respectively) are interesting. The only character who's slightly 2-D is Belch, but he fulfills his villain duties with a mindless malevolence that is all the more unsettling when you realize he's only sixteen. Grab this book for a thought-provoking, funny look at life and what comes after.