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Undead by Kirsty McKay
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's review
Aug 28, 2012

really liked it

Culturally confused Bobby has survived the week from hell; A ski trip to Scotland with her new classmates, amounting to little more than constant ribbing for her transatlantic expressions. All she wants to do now is keep her head down and get home without attracting any further attention from her British tormentors.

Opting to stay out of their way, Bobby remains on the coach while all but one of her cohorts pile, through thick snow, in to the secluded services. Irritated that her quiet solitude, not to mention her plans for a private pee, have been interrupted, Bobby does her best to ignore leather clad “rebel without a pause”, Smitty.

Outside the snow picks up, wrapping the bus in a white coat and cutting the passengers off from the outside world, until a single, pink hand slaps against the windscreen and swipes at the cold covering …

The new girl, the popular girl who touches up her lip gloss mid apocalypse, the rebel with a not so hidden heart and the nerdy, asthmatic conspiracy theorist- a group of people who would have avoided eating lunch together before the intervention of lumbering, reanimated corpses, but who now depend on each other for their very survival.

I know what you are thinking, a group of mismatched teens, thrown together for survival- been there seen/read that! Mckay embraces this and other familiar elements from horror stories and teen movies, infusing them with an energy and freshness that prevents it from feeling trite or clichéd.

The fantastically snarky banter and surprisingly tender heart-warming moments provide relief to the background of gore and mounting tension. The laugh out loud humor has prompted some comparisons with the fabulously funny “Shaun of the Dead” film. While Undead doesn’t contain the visual comedy and slapstick elements (although what Smitty can’t do with a snowboard isn’t worth knowing), I think that fans of the film will enjoy the black humor both mediums share.

While Undead has all of the necessary carnage, gore and violence you would expect from a story featuring teens battling flesh eating zombies, you can rest assured that you are unlikely to lose your lunch. McKay provides enough description to transport you in to frozen rural Scotland, but avoids the overly graphic details, which make some horror books hard to stomach.

As the tension built I was loathe to put the book down (and not least because I was reluctant to leave my safe warm, zombie free home to take my puppy out in the pitch black for her nightly constitutional), and I had to stay up in to the small hours to see how they would escape one perilous situation after another.

Verdict: Fun and likeable characters populate this eerie and atmospheric page-turner. I will definitely be picking up a copy of the sequel, Unfed when It is released next month.

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