Publisher: Hyperion Book
Publish Date: May 6, 2008
Cover Art: Elizabeth H. Clark
As always: SPOILERS!!!!!!!!
I was at a local discount store and there was a large bin of hardcover books. You never know what you'll find, so I was pawing through it and brought up this book. My 16yo daughter said, "You HAVE to read that Mom, it's awesome." Out of the mouths of babes....
This is unlike any zombie story I've read. Even ROT and RUIN didn't treat zombies this way. It's my favorite thing in life when an author comes up with a new way to showcase something popular. Now this book was published in 2008, so Mr. Waters was ahead of the game with his zombies. I like this book so much that I will be doing a giveaway of my very own hardcover copy tomorrow, check it out in my interview with Mr. Waters!
Weirdly, all over America, dead teenagers are coming to life...sort of. They reanimate. They don't need to eat, their organs don't work and some of them are more 'alive' acting than others. How do their families react? Some better than others. Tommy's mom was thrilled to get him back and have a second chance, while Collette's parents threatened her with a shovel and left town. Oh yeah, it's only America too - none of the other countries are having this issue. Since it's a fairly new issue, there aren't any laws dealing with it yet. Reanimated teens can't get a job, a drivers license or anything else - they are officially dead. Nor are there any laws to punish anyone deciding to make sure the teens go back to being dead for good.
Mr. Waters did an excellent job with his characters. It's easy to know who is talking even if you didn't read the name. They all have very different voices. That's missing in a lot of books, I'm sure it's hard to give each character their own voice. For main characters we have: Phoebe - she's a gothy girl who listens to really loud metal music and writes poetry; Margie - Phoebe's bff, also gothy and highly emotional; Adam - Phoebe's neighbor and friend, he's a jock and keeps his friendship with Phoebe a secret because he can't be seen with her; Tommy - one of the zombies, he blogs, lives with his mom and wants to be a regular teen; the last of the main characters (as I see it) is Pete - captain of the football team, mean as a snake and hates zombies. But even Pete has a secret.
The zombies (corpsicles, Differently Biotic, walking dead, whatever you want to call them) represent, to me, all of the 'unwelcome' groups in a high school: the minority in an all white school, special ed students, goths, geeks, nerds, LGBT students, you name it. The things done to them are similar to things we've all witnessed (but hopefully not participated in) in high school, sometimes even college or beyond. The worst part are the adults that not only condone the nonsense, but push the students to it. You have to wonder what kind of teens they were themselves.
There is a little bit of a love triangle...sort of. See Phoebe likes Tommy & Tommy likes Phoebe, but both understand the issues their relationship could cause. Then there's Adam. He's changed over the summer and realizes he likes Phoebe too, but can't figure out how to tell her and then she likes Tommy and he's friends with Tommy and it's all a mess. There's no sexual situations in the story, but as you could assume there are some sexual remarks made about Phoebe dating a zombie. Be prepared to explain if you're a parent, or ask about it if you're a teen. :)
In the end, this story is about understanding people that are different than yourself and accepting them. Perhaps also that you can be dramatically different from your friends and still love them. Be sure to check this one out, there are two more after it (so far): KISS OF LIFE and PASSING STRANGE.