Cover Impressions: Prior to reading the book, I kinda liked the cover. The contrasting c...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: Prior to reading the book, I kinda liked the cover. The contrasting colors worked well together and I liked the image of the cheerleader/zombie killer. However, having read the book, I don't like that the cover image doesn't feature the main character. The cheerleader character is anything but kick-ass, and doesn't really deserve cover billing.
The Gist: During a school trip rest stop, Bobby hides out on the bus in order to avoid her heinous new classmates. When they are emerge craving brains more than burgers, Bobby and a handful of survivors must fight to escape and to get to the bottom of the this strange outbreak.
Review: I will admit, this is an odd choice for me. I love recieving review copies from Scholastic, but this is one that I definitely would not have chosen on my own.
You see, I have issues with zombies. I don't generally watch movies or tv shows or read books about zombies because they make me uncomfortable. I know, that is kind of the point. But, I find that I cannot relax with this type of fiction because I am constantly waiting for the next attack and I spend a great deal of time yelling at the characters to "keep moving", "look behind you" or "stop talking and pick up a freakin weapon!". For the sake of a book that isn't all that bad, I will try to put my personal issues aside.
Undead opens with Bobby, who has just returned to the UK from living in the US for several years. Her parents thought it would be a great idea to send her on a pre-school trip to get to know her new classmates. Instead, Bobby has spent the trip counting the minutes until it is over. When those same students mysteriously die and are raised as zombies, she is forced to cooperate with a cheerleader, an uber-geek and a delinquent in order to fight for survival. Bobby is strong willed and determined. She will take risks and has a very take charge attitude. The other characters don't add a whole lot and were pretty one dimensional and forgettable.
The plot featured some odd twists and turns. There were times of flat out action, followed by lots of lag. I also couldn't understand why these kids weren't better prepared. Surely they have seen a zombie movie or two, so why weren't they grabbing food off the shelves and making weapons instead of wasting time having EVERYONE gather around to watch video feedback? The storyline also featured an odd conspiracy theory that is never clearly explained - I was left with more questions than answers. The humor in the writing just didn't work for me and the constant fighting among the teens got old fast.
As with most Zombie books, this one suffers from a severe case of "anything that can go wrong - will". I personally, find this incredibly frustrating. I am left rolling my eyes and yelling "oh COME ON!". It also featured the typical: "Thank God we are safe - oh wait, we really aren't" type ending.
Clearly zombie books are just not for me but I can see where this would appeal to other readers, especially teens looking for something exciting.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: zombie attacks Inappropriate Language: None, Pseudo-Swears Substance Use/Abuse: Underage drinking (less)
Cover Impressions: Even if I hadn't read and enjoyed My Life As A White Trash Zombie, th...more This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: Even if I hadn't read and enjoyed My Life As A White Trash Zombie, this cover would have made me start the series. It is the perfect mix of bad-ass and vulnerable in a completely unexpected scene (are there any other books that feature a punk-chick on a toilet?*) The cover is so detailed that it begs examination and I found myself looking it over every time that I closed the book and noticing new things each time.
The Gist: Angel Crawford is a zombie, but not the moaning, shambling type of zombie that drops body parts as it wanders the post apocalyptic world attacking survivors. As long as she keeps her stomach full up on brains, Angel is able to pass for any other trailer trash chick with a felony record and probation requirements to tend to. Because she doesn't have ENOUGH problems, Angel finds herself in the middle of a mystery that appears to involve a zombie mafia, secret lab and gruesome experiments.
Review: I normally shy away from zombie books. I tend to find them predictable in the whole "let me lull you into a false sense of security and then have zombies jump out of FUCKING EVERYWHERE" kind of way. However, I really love Diana Rowland's take on zombies. These zombies only rot when they are deprived of brains, but can lose their humanity as the disease takes over and promotes survival without fear of consequences. They also take jobs that will ensure the availability of brains, like Angel's job in the morgue. The thought of zombies working amongst us while secretly downing brain smoothies for lunch, intrigues and amuses me in ways I never thought possible.
The beginning of Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues was a little slow. There is a lot of moaning as Angel tries to get her life together and laments her supposed inability to become part of polite society and make something of herself. She is the type of girl that you want to shake because you can see that she is smart and has a great deal of potential, she just needs to get out of her own way and let herself imagine a future that doesn't involve suffering for her past criminal activity, status as a high school drop out and white trash roots. Even through the whining, there are sparks of a stronger Angel and glimpses of bad-ass behavior. I loved Angel in the first book, and was really glad to see her getting her life together and (begrudgingly) start studying for her GED. As a character, her voice is fantastic. Witty, self-deprecating and all around total tough girl. She rarely takes shit from anyone, least of all the bad guys and proves that female characters can be scared out of their wits and still pull out a line that will leave the reader laughing.
There are a number of supporting characters (interestingly, all men) who work on the periphery of the story but never outshine Angel. In this novel, she is the star and she is not willing to allow anyone else to coddle her, protect her or rescue her. I would like to see these characters further developed and given a bit more personality. For example, Angel's partner (the name escapes me at the moment) has some really great lines, but we barely see him. Ed and Pietro could also be really interesting characters if they were fleshed out a little more.
While this novel was a little slow to start, it made up for it when the shit hit the fan. We were then treated to pretty much non-stop action in which we see Angel at her most vulnerable (and kudos to an author who can allow a kick-ass character to display that much vulnerability) and her most fearsome. The only thing that brought it down a notch was the serious info-dumping session that occurred afterwards. I understand that things needed to be explained and loose ends needed to be tied up, but the coffee klatch was a little much for me.
One note on content. I really enjoy this series and sincerely wish that I could recommend it to my students. However, there is A LOT of swearing and it is widely varied in level of profanity (see below). There is no way I could hand this one off to a student without serious fear of being fired.
Age: 16 and up Gender: Both Sex: Mentioned, not described. Violence: Gunplay, Zombie Mauling, Hand to Hand combat, Use of Tasers, Inappropriate Language: LOTS!! Bitch, Fuck, Shit, Asshole, Bastard, Bullshit, Goddamn, Jesus Christ, Cocksucker, Cunt, Pissed, Motherfucker, Tits, Substance Use/Abuse:
"'Zombie Super Powers, activate, you fucking bitches'"
*If there are, please don't send me links, I am sure I don't want to see them... (less)