The Wish List, by Eoin Colfer (Miramax Books, 2003)

After a robbery goes horribly wrong, 14 year old bad girl Meg Finn is killed before her time. Thanks to a last minute change of heart (literally), she ends up balanced exactly between Heaven and Hell; one major effort either way could decide her eternal fate. Thus, she returns to Earth with a mission: help fulfill the “wish list” of Lowrie McCall, the old man she was robbing at the time she died. If she can help Lowrie erase his regrets and feel good about his life, she might just go to Heaven after all. Little does she know, though, that her ex-partner-in-crime has been enlisted by the Infernal Powers That Be to help tip her balance in the opposite direction. It’s a race against time for Meg and Lowrie to complete four tasks before Meg’s spiritual energy runs out, or the forces of Hell cause her to screw up. Because Meg’s still clinging to a few issues of her own from her mortal life, and if she can’t resolve them now, she may never have another chance.

The Wish List is an inventive, energetic, fast-paced story of morality, mortality, regret, and redemption, with Lowrie and Meg learning from one another as they struggle to overcome their respective failings. The protagonists are realistic, with memorable voices and all-too-honest quirks, balancing out the somewhat one-sided selfishness and malevolence of the bad guys nicely. Once I started reading, I had trouble putting The Wish List down until finished, even if it meant sitting in my car in a parking lot for an extra twenty minutes, rather than go home first. Author Eoin Colfer has proven here that he’s not just notable for his Artemis Fowl series, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else he can produce in the future.

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