What first drew me to Zombie Makers was the promise of reading about one of my favorite subjects: parasites! I was also really excited at the prospectWhat first drew me to Zombie Makers was the promise of reading about one of my favorite subjects: parasites! I was also really excited at the prospect of reading something that was obviously going to be creepy and disgusting. What made the book even better, though, were the gorgeous color illustrations that appear on each page. Even though I was reading a digital galley, I saw some sample pages of the finished book at ALA, and this thing is going to look really slick as a physical book.
Johnson’s cleverly structured the chapters thematically by “zombie traits,” such as the need to bite or acting mindlessly. Nature is cruel, and parasites turn some of our greatest fears into realities, like being paralyzed while an infant slowly eats you from the inside out. That’s dang scary, and actually happens to cockroaches that have been taken over by the jewel wasp. The parasites in this book aren’t limited to those that attack insects, though. Johnson includes the guinea worm, which grows inside of a person’s body, then bursts out when the person plunges the aching limb into water. Before that, you can see the worm squirming subcutaneously! And yes, there’s a photograph of a guinea worm emerging from a leg. It’s gruesome stuff. Rabies, aka canine madness aka hydrophobia, is also discussed, and we all know that rabies can turn man’s best friend into a drooling, snarling monster, as evidenced by Old Yeller.
This book is chock full of fun subject matter that will fascinate kids. It’s the kind of book I would have carried around with me as a kid and read over and over, and then recounted to anybody who would listen. Heck, I still might do that as an adult. Johnson writes in clear language that a kid can understand, but you don’t get the feeling that it has been dumbed down, either. Also, after a gruesome initial descriptions, she gives the history of how the scientists figured this stuff out. If a kid needs somebody to idolize, I think the researchers described in this book could fit the bill.
The one caveat about this book is that it is probably not a good book for people who are squeamish about bugs; however, it is great for people who love to look at images of insects in detail. This is a terrific book to give kids to get them interested in science and biology, all while stimulating their imaginations....more
If Undead were a movie, it would probably star a cast of unknowns and have a cult following. This book reads like a B horror film. It’s action-packed,If Undead were a movie, it would probably star a cast of unknowns and have a cult following. This book reads like a B horror film. It’s action-packed, but also doesn’t really have much more going on under the surface. A group of high school kids goes on a ski trip, where the majority of the class are inexplicably turned into mindless zombies. Four of them must fight to survive and get back to civilization, all while trying to figure out what caused the change. McKay loves tossing away one-liners like zombies love brains, and there are more than a few groaners here, which is appropriate for the subject matter.
The book takes place in Scotland, and there’s a bit of British slang, which I found kind of charming. Each of the characters embodies a high school stereotype, which has caused some readers to remark that this reminded them of The Breakfast Club. However, unlike The Breakfast Club, I don’t think any of the characters have big revelations of how they’re all basically the same, going through the same teenage angst. Nope, they’re too busy running from zombies for that kind of self-reflection, which is fine. I’ve said before that I think the best genre fiction uses the conventions of the genre to make a larger statement, but sometimes you just want something that’s a bit mindless and rollicking. This book fits that bill.
As far as zombie books go, the terror here is pretty minimal. McKay leaves the reader with an obvious lead-in to a sequel, so if this book is your thing, you’ll undoubtedly look forward to that. As for me, I think I’ve had my fill with Undead. ...more
Zombie was pitched to me as a coming-of-age story about a boy who is unable to relate to his father except through their mutual love of zombie movies.Zombie was pitched to me as a coming-of-age story about a boy who is unable to relate to his father except through their mutual love of zombie movies. While that much is true, it does not even come close to really capturing this book. Believe me when I say that this is one seriously messed up novel. Parts of it reminded me of one of the Dexter books, although I won't say which one due to the risk of spoilers.
Zombie is told through the first-person perspective of Jeremy, a boy who is beginning private Catholic school after the breakdown of his family. His parents have separated, his mother is addicted to prescription painkillers, and his older brother is a womanizing drug addict with a penchant for stripping down while high. Jeremy's dad is also increasingly more absent, leaving for entire nights at a time with no real explanation. School is proving to be tougher than anticipated for Jeremy, and freshmen are routinely beat up and humiliated. Also, Jeremy's started having nosebleeds at the most inopportune times. The things going on in Jeremy's life made me want to scream at the book, "Where are all the grownups!?" Because there is really nobody reliable for Jeremy to turn to. Then, he finds a bizarre video in his dad's room, which might or might not be a snuff film. Things just got worse for poor Jeremy.
I did enjoy reading this book, although I didn't always understand why some things were happening. The plot is not nearly as tight as it could have been, but you can't help by feel for Jeremy and want to keep reading to find out what the heck is going on. The ending also felt a bit rushed, but it is quite a climax. I feel sorry for anyone who reads this and doesn't finish the book, because it's a doozy.
Want to feel better about your own life, think about your favorite zombie films, and have your mind blown at least a little? Read this one....more