Book: Ghost Radio: A Novel by Leopoldo Gout
Publisher: Harper-Collins Publishers
Furnished by: Harper-Collins’ First Look Program
On Sale Date: October 2008
Publisher’s Description: “From the cramped bowels of a dimly lit Mexican radio station, Ghost Radio is beamed onto the airwaves. More than a call–in show to tell scary stories about vampires and poltergeists, Ghost Radio is a sanctuary for those sleepless denizens of the night, lost half way between this world and the next. Joaquin, the hip, melancholy host sits deep in a fog of cigarette smoke, fielding calls from believers and detractors alike. He is joined in the booth by his darkly beautiful girlfriend, Alondra, and his engineer, Watts. Soon, what began as a cult phenomenon is primed to break out to mainstream audiences. When a huge radio conglomerate offers to syndicate their show in the U.S., and Ghost Radio becomes a national hit with an expanding legion of hardcore fans, neither Joaquin, Alondra, nor Watts is prepared for what is about to happen.
A former punk rocker, Joaquin has had two devastating near–death experiences–accidents of shocking and horrific proportions. He emerged the sole survivor after these events, walking away even as his parents and later, his best friend and cohort in music and mischief–Gabriel– perished. Though a charismatic host, he remains a skeptic even as he begins to notice a curious and troubling phenomenon–Joaquin feels himself drawn further and further into the terrifying stories he solicits on the radio. Slowly he loses control over his circumstances, and finds himself unable to distinguish between the real world and the world populated by the nightmares on Ghost Radio. He is not alone, and as the voices of the dead begin to drift onto the airwaves–in essence ‘calling in’– they produce tragic results.
He cannot shake the suspicion that the agent of his crippling ailment is someone from his past, someone with a grudge to repay, and he is forced to confront his past and his own mortality, in order to save that which is most precious to him, and repair the crumbling wall between the living and the dead.”
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Review: Ghost Radio is the story of Joaquin, a Mexican talk show host who hosts the popular late-night radio program from which the novel gets its namesake. His girlfriend, Alondra, is the radio’s co-host, and their friend Watt does the engineering. We meet these 3 just as Ghost Radio is starting to hit it big and is offered a chance for syndication in the United States. However, the trip to the US brings up memories and stories for both Joaquin and his girlfriend, and this is where Joaquin’s business begins to bleed over into his personal life more than he had ever imagined possible.
The mysterious events of Joaquin’s past begin to return with a vengeance, this time with a supernatural tinge to them. And, as if being haunted by his past while still having to DJ to an entire listening audience every night isn’t enough, it seems that the stories his listeners tell are beginning to effect him as well. Joaquin’s life slowly becomes a battle between a waking nightmare and the “real world”, gorily trippy enough to drive anyone without the strongest conscious into complete insanity.
Overall, the book is thrilling and suspenseful. If you really allow yourself, you can be dragged into Joaquin’s dark, weird world and find yourself going crazy right along with him. However, some odd jumps in time and narration, and a sudden urge to resolve everything with your typical happy Hollywood epilogue at the end, kind of sours the story at points. It’s definitely worth a read, though, if you like to be surprised by the head games a book can play with you.