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The Wish List    by Eoin Colfer order for
Wish List
by Eoin Colfer
Order:  USA  Can
Miramax, 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Fourteen-year-old Meg Finn is accidentally blown up after she participates in robbing an old man's home, along with a delinquent aptly named Belch and his nasty pit bull terrier Raptor. Why did she do it? We gradually find out about her poor home circumstances through the book. But the end result is that her soul is 'knocked clean out of her skin.'

She's in the white tunnel with other souls floating on by ... and she's stuck there, the good and bad acts of her life in a rare, perfect balance. Belch and Raptor, oddly melded by the explosion, head rapidly down to the nether regions and through the gate to hell. The Devil, viewing Meg as a 'creative sinner', wants her soul. Satan delegates to Beelzebub, who in turn (and against the rules) sends a demon back to Earth, a 'Soul Man' enhanced by high-tech, to fix things. At the same time, a blue-skinned 'tunnel scraper' (it's his penance) named Flit shows Meg how to get back herself.

Her ghostly task is to help the one she sinned against, Lowrie McCall (the old man injured and robbed by Meg and Belch). It turns out that 'doom and gloom' Lowrie has a 'Wish List' of pivotal things he wishes he'd done differently in his life, in order to live it to the full. Meg is able to animate his weak old body and give it her strength (while it lasts). She helps him to kiss a celebrity, kick a football, face down a bully, and spit over the Cliffs of Moher. Of course, Meg and Lowrie both learn and change in the process, while Belch and Elph (a holographic 'cyber demon') tag along after them in hilarious pursuit.

The Wish List is all about a redemptive quest, not only for the ghostly Meg, but also for Lowrie, who's lived his years as a loser. Cheeky, troubled Meg, who has never had a father figure in her life, finally finds one in the afterlife, Lowrie finds something to live for, and the demons mostly get what they deserve. Though it's not Artemis Fowl, it's great fun nevertheless.

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