Aug 14, 12
Read from July 30 to August 10, 2012
I got my copy at Zombie because of Book Expo. It was mailed to me after Book Expo because they ran out on the day. That was how popular it was. I think it is pretty clear that a Zombie book is right up my alley. This book is not about Zombies though. It is a coming-of-age for boys novel. How do Zombies fit into this? Our hero, Jeremy, has a code for life and his code comes from the Zombie movies he loves. He deals with his fellow teenagers as he would with zombies. He uses zombie movies as his filter on how he sees the world, but as his way to connect with other people. I think this is something we all do and I liked that Jeremy takes the time to explain why he loves each specific movie he loves and how it connects with his memories of growing up (so far). His story about watching Thriller for the first time as a kid reminded me of how my own friends reacted at the same time.
While I did enjoy this book, I had two glaring problems. One simply had to do with me. I was not a teenage boy and I couldn't find any common ground for help me relate. Other than how much I too hated high school, I found teenage boys to be more than I ever had to experience. Girls can be horrible people too, but there is something about the boys at this catholic high school that really reminded me that I made the right decision not to have kids. I typically can identify with themes in fiction written for men, but this one just made me so glad to be a girl. From the abuse they inflict on each other to the way adults treat them made me think the world has not and never will change. I felt almost hopeless after I finished this book.
The second problem I had rests with our author. The one thing I could not get over was the father and what time period we are dealing with. If this story had taken place in the early 1990s then I wouldn't have this problem. The main problem is that this book takes place in 2011/12 and that doesn't work with the details of the story. This is because the father is a Vietnam veteran. Vietnam happened almost 50 years ago. My father is the age Ballentine should be: mid-60s. I am not saying it is impossible, but the parents are suppose to be the same age. To fit the time line, they had kids about 21 years before. There was no explanation as to why this much time passed before the couple had children. This means they would have had their first kid in their early 40s and Jeremy in their late 40s/early 50s. This is needs an explanation. This would have helped with the understanding both parents a bit better. I would have had a bit more sympathy for their flaws if I understood them better (even if Jeremy didn't make the connection himself). It would have made more sense if Dessert Storm had been selected as the war. PTSD, which is what I think was going on with the father, was just as big of an issue for Dessert Storm.
Finally, I didn't love the way the book ended. I get no sense of what actually happened to the father. Why were these men doing what they did? Were they trying to make up for sins? Was this a take off on Fight Club? Was this for shits and giggles? I like to understand motivations, even if our narrator is unsure of them. I wish there was a stronger conclusion rather just a scene a few months later.