Do you deserve to survive a disaster when not 24 hours ago, you planned to commit suicide? Is death as welcome when it becomes the new life? These are t...moreDo you deserve to survive a disaster when not 24 hours ago, you planned to commit suicide? Is death as welcome when it becomes the new life? These are the questions that start Courtney Summers engaging entry into the Zombie Apocalypse genre.
Since their mother's death, Sloane and her older sister Lilly have lived in fear and peril with their physically abusive father. The girls have a plan though. Lilly will save up the money she makes from her small grocery store job, so that when the time is right, the two of them can escape the danger and restraint of their father. All they have to do is wait for the perfect time.
But Lilly doesn't wait.
She packs up her things, and leaves. Without Sloane. And things become unbearable. Furious, their father takes out his frustration on Sloane. Sad and alone, Sloane decides that she can leave too. Just differently. She writes out a note, and begins planning her own death.
The morning of the attempt, she's prepared to end it all, just as she's sure her father is about to have a blowout of major proportions. But before she can do anything, chaos erupts outside their window. Looking out at the street, cars are crashing, neighbors are lunging for neighbors, wives are EATING husbands. Wait, eating? Realizing what she thinks she's seeing, Sloan turns and runs back into the house, just as a zombie launches itself through their front window. Finally her dad's aggressiveness pays off as he quickly deals with their undead intruder. Not sure what she's seeing, but knowing that she does not want to endure it with her father, she takes off.
When we next see Sloane, she's a part of a group of six, hiding out in what used to be their high school. We find out fairly quickly that the group of six was very recently a group of eight. What's left are her classmates Cary: a former boyfriend of Lilly's and the school slacker, Rhys: An upperclassmen who seems to know a lot more about Sloane than she thought anyone cared to, Harrison: A freshman who had yet to make himself known, Grace: Student Body President and former friend of Sloane's, and Trace: Grace's twin brother, a jock who blames Cary for allowing the undead to overtake his parents on their way to the school.
The most intriguing part of this book was the tension. There is constant tension between Cary and Trace. Nervous, weepy tension from Harrison frustrates the group. Then there is the inner turmoil we get from Sloane, who wrestles heavily with how very much she misses her sister, and whether or not she even wants to survive since she was seconds away from ending her world when the world itself came to an end.
There are moments where I hated each and every character. There were moments where each and every character was my absolute favorite. The zombies themselves were scarce until necessary for the story. The entire concept was thoughtfully fleshed out.
Fans of Zombie stories that are about the human condition rather than the undead condition, such as The Walking Dead, would enjoy this one, especially once they got past the slow angsty teen pace. (less)
**spoiler alert** A short, quick read that covers death & dying from the perspective of a young boy who copes (and doesn't), in his own way.
Seein...more**spoiler alert** A short, quick read that covers death & dying from the perspective of a young boy who copes (and doesn't), in his own way.
Seeing the great reviews others posted, I really wanted and expected to love this book so much more, but I have to be honest and say that I was really underwhelmed. The cover and blurbs will lead one to expect a jovial little sci-fi experience that humorously tackles the themes of death and the life thereafter, but instead this was a very heavy albeit funny tale.
Wil's brother Graham suffered a massive asthma attack six months ago and passed away, alone in the family bathroom while desperately trying to find his inhaler. Since that time, the family has moved to a new house, Wil's been sent to speak to a therapist, and everything is different. His parents tiptoe around him, and don't really laugh or talk as much anymore.
What has remained a constant, is Wil's friendships with Anthony, David, and Stella, his frenemieship with Eben, and their shared love of Zombie Tag. The game was developed by Wil and Graham, who both vowed "never to grow up", and is one of the ways Wil shares his infatuation and knowledge of zombies early on.
And here's where I knew this book would be different, because here it was revealed that in this world, zombies did in fact exist at one point. They came back for a short while before being found dead again in a pile some days afterwards. No one really knows why the zombies died again, but no one really talks about it either.
Wil knows how they came back, though. A small bell. A small bell that he knows is very close by. Just one ring, and things could be back to normal.
So he does what any smart, ambitious kid who misses his brother would do. He steals it. He rings it. The dead (at least the dead within a five mile radius), come back. And things should be back to normal.
But they aren't. There is a huge issue with the walking dead relatives of the town. They are incapable of showing any emotions beyond fear and anger. Graham is back...but not really back, and Wil is forced to wonder if it hurts worse to have a Graham that can't be the brother he knew, or to grow up without him at all.
The issue of Wil dealing with the loss of his brother was a familiar one. Not knowing who you are without the person you loved, and not knowing how to move forward, are those topics that will be consistently tackled in books for youth. Wil's humor and emotionally-driven decisions that don't take others into consideration are very identifiable. I could relate to his selfishness, his frustration, and his heartbreak.
BUT, as an avid fan of all things zombie, there were some things I was very displeased with. 1. No mention of the condition of the zombies that returned. Were they gooey? What about those who died of unnatural causes? Did they have wounds? I can't imagine a kid who loved zombies as much as Wil supposedly did, ignoring these details. 2. I was completely thrown by how quickly and easily Wil not only discovered where the bell was, but obtained it. Too easy. 3. The zombies hate their new lives, they go away, and everything goes back to normal. No re-grieving. Just blam, back to pseudo-normal. 4. Open-ended issues. Zombie prejudice arises, but no one deals with it really. Then a major character's DAD is a zombie...but how did that happen beyond necrophilia? It was a good idea and a hell of a twist, but just not plausible in the world created.
These things aside, I really enjoyed the pace of the story, but when I took these things into account, I lost interest really fast. (less)
Often in my career, I've come across photographs. Some are left between the pages of donated or returned items. Others still are found on library floo...moreOften in my career, I've come across photographs. Some are left between the pages of donated or returned items. Others still are found on library floors and tables; accidental droppings from the purses and pockets of patrons. I stare at these photographs and am unable to thrown them away because I feel as though I'm discarding the lives found within them.
I find myself imagining who the people are, and how they felt during the scenes I'm eavesdropping on, but never have I constructed such an enchanting and haunting tale as this one. From photos found, Ransom Riggs has pulled together an adventure that appeals to a range of my interests. Multiple times withing this story, I found myself feeling as though I'd discovered a land that was the perfect mix of Percy Jackson, Pan's Labyrinth, Alice Through the Looking Glass and other stories. From the very first chapter, I realized that I wouldn't be able to rest until I'd devoured this tale of loss, love, family, adventure and history.
In present day Florida, Jacob Portman is dreadfully normal. He has no exceptional talents, save for his ability to evade the bullies at school. He has no outstanding family legacy, except for the fact that his mother's family owns all the Smart Aid pharmacies in the state. He spends his time trying to fit under the radar, while spending time with his one friend, whom he shares a mutual tolerance with.
When he was younger, Jacob's time was spent listening to his grandfather's stories. Tales of monsters and a home where no one grew old or ever died. His grandfather Abe would talk about a girl who could produce fire, and a brother and sister who were powerful enough to hoist boulders. But there were more than just his stories, Grandpa Abe could provide pictures.
However, as Jacob grew older, he began to doubt Grandpa's tales, and question if the photographs weren't just skillfully crafted parlor tricks. Learning that his grandfather had escaped Nazi's during the Holocaust, Jacob decides that these stories are merely Grandpa Abe's way of coping with the great loss and fear he endured.
And then the impossible happens. Grandpa Abe is attacked by the "monsters", and Jacob is a witness. With his last breaths, he tells Jacob that he must flee to where it is safe and find the house he told him of in his stories. In his quest to honor his grandfather's dying wish, Jacob is thrust into an adventure that turns everything he thought he knew about life, love, and his family, upside down.
What is perhaps the best part of this book is the fluid and realistic way the author introduces facts and characters. His descriptions were so vivid, that you'd find yourself imagining what a picture would be like, only to turn the page and find that he was thoughtful enough to actually give you one. The photographs were haunting but beautiful and added to the story much in the way of those found in The Invention of Hugo Cabret. This world became even more real to me because the photos were authentic. I doubt regular illustrations would have been as effective.
The storyline was linear, but so many minor twists and turns erupted that I felt like I was being treated to five or six stories all in one. These carnie-like, peculiar children were endearing and made me want to figure out what my own peculiar talent could be. I recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction, tales with a twist, and stories of family secrets. (less)
An awesome retelling of the twelve dancing princesses was my favorite in this collection. Another shining story was a re-imagining of a chubby Cindere...moreAn awesome retelling of the twelve dancing princesses was my favorite in this collection. Another shining story was a re-imagining of a chubby Cinderella. Some stories, such as the Hansel and Gretel spoof were a bit hard to follow and even as an adult had me thinking "ewww", as the candy house became a Playstation store, and the hungry witch became a black market organ dealer. In all, for young people who know the originals, this is a fun and creepy collectible. For me, it was "ok".
Twelve re-tellings and a set of fairy tale "Instructions" by Neil Gaiman, make for a good book of tales to tell tweens and pre-teens. These authors take their liberty with most of the tales, with the exception of the version of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses", which makes the enchanted princes into zombies. A plus-sized Cinderella, and a version of Jack and the Beanstalk from the viewpoint of the giant's wife are funny as well as thought-provoking. Following each story is a biography of the author as well as a note on their idea of fairy and folktales, why they chose the tale, and a mention of any other adaptations they have done. (less)
Perhaps the most frightening thing about this story, as with M.T. Anderson's Feed, is that it could possibly be more accurate than even the author is...morePerhaps the most frightening thing about this story, as with M.T. Anderson's Feed, is that it could possibly be more accurate than even the author is aware. Chilling.
After the first twenty pages, you will never look at the moon the same again. Author Susan Beth Pfeffer, bravely takes on the topic of environmental apocalypse with a freshness and somehow comfortable humor that is all but infectious upon reading. Set in modern times, seventeen-year-old Miranda is more concerned with the amount of homework she has to complete, not being asked to the prom yet, and the news of her stepmother's pregnancy than the thought of the asteroid that is set to collide with the moon. Not too long after it does make contact, Miranda, along with the rest of the world realizes all too soon that the crash is more of a tragedy than once believed, as it tilts the moon and leads to cataclysmic events happening worldwide. Through the strong first-person narrative of the book's journal format, middle and high school readers will find it hard not to begin feeling the intense emotions of fear, hunger, paralyzing cold and longing that Miranda and her family experience as they make their way through the year following the moon's tilt in their small Pennsylvania town. The author also allows the audience to watch and cheer as Miranda's flighty, typical teenage girl personality morphs into that of an engaging and courageous heroine who steps up when her family needs her most. The riveting descriptions and brief episodes of peril will leave lasting impressions and thoughts of "what-if this actually happened" heavy on the reader's mind. As the text delves headfirst into the topics of loss and fear, Miranda reminds us that in any catastrophe, a sound mind and a loving family can endure. For a change of pace and a different perspective on the same event, interested readers should also read "The Dead and the Gone", a companion novel.(less)
An excellent collection of re-tellings. The illustrations are absolutely chilling. A particular standout is the version of the Monkey's Paw found with...moreAn excellent collection of re-tellings. The illustrations are absolutely chilling. A particular standout is the version of the Monkey's Paw found within, as well as the "Lost Hearts" tale. This was my first set of truly scary stories, found in one of those huge book sales. I creeped out everyone in the sixth grade. LOL