As the name would suggest, this novel is about an American ghoul. The main ghoul protagonist is Howard Pickman. Set in 1977, Howard is a senior in high school. After his parents were murdered in Georgia, he hitch hikes to New Jersey to live with his grandmother. Like most ghouls, Howard can pass for human, with one major exception—in order to survive, he must eat human flesh. Fortunately, the flesh that he eats are from the recently deceased, making it a bit less revolting. Howard tries to fly under the radar. As a ghoul, it’s not a good idea to seek attention, but that doesn’t stop him from attracting the ire of the school bullies/sadists/psychopaths.
This novel was a bit of a mixed bag. It started off strong with a very dramatic opening with the townspeople attacking Walt’s parents and him fleeing for his life. But when he settles into his new life in New Jersey, the book really slows down. So much of it was mundane. Perhaps it was the author trying to show that ghouls live normal human lives, but it was rather dull and forgettable. The novel then heats up late as Walt’s feud with the school bullies come to a head. The novel ends with a fiery conclusion. The bottom line is that the novel starts strong, ends strong, but there’s not a whole lot there in the middle. This novel was a solid read, but I thought it could have been more.