Karen DeSonne is used to pretending to be something she’s not. All her life, she’s passed as a normal all-American teenager; with her friends, with her family, and at school. Passing cost her the love of her life. And now that Karen’s dead, she’s still passing – this time, as alive .
Meanwhile, Karen’s dead friends have been fingered in a high-profile murder, causing a new round of anti-zombie regulations that have forced nearly all of Oakvale’s undead into hiding. Karen soon learns that the “murder” was a hoax, staged by Pete Martinsburg and his bioist zealots. Obtaining enough evidence to expose the fraud and prove her friends’ innocence means doing the betraying her love by becoming Pete’s girlfriend. Karen’s only hope is that the enemy never realizes who she really is – because the consequences would be even worse than death.
It took me quite some time to get around to reading the third installment of the Generation Dead series and this largely because, Generation Dead and Kiss of Life were easily amongst the most failtastic books I have ever come across. Were it not for our commitment to finishing series once we start them, there is no way that I would have picked up this book.
Tommy is off in Washington trying to get legal rights for zombies who are living with the fall out for being framed for the death of Gutteridge - the lawyer who was hired to defend Pete after he murdered Layman. The Reverend is still using Pete as his tool to frame as many zombies as possible for different crimes. Despite getting lucky enough to only get probation, Pete does not have the good sense to leave the zombies alone. As much as he is repelled by them, he is angry that the one girl he loved did not come back.
This novel is the first in the series where Karen is the protagonist. She works in the mall and is passing as living. Most of the novel is spent dealing with Karen's feelings about her suicide and depression, as well as building a relationship with her family. I think the best moments in this story involve Karen and her father because we see both sides of the effects of suicide. Karen refers to her depression as a blue fog and waters actually does a good job explaining the pain of living with depression.
If the one thing that kept you from truly loving the Generation Dead novels was a little too much Phoebe and a little less Karen, this is the GD book for you. Most of the book is told from Karen's point of view (with occasional blip from Pete, whom you might recall was Adam's murderer but since Adam turned zombie, Pete didn't really get charged properly.) and a lot of questions you might have had about her are answered.
For instance, Karen is a firm believer in "fake it 'til you make it." She comes across as calm, cool, and definitely collected in the other books, but once you see things from her side, you realize she's just as messed up as everyone else. It's just that she's learned to hide it better. Karen, you see, is a master at passing. She passes for alive, in many senses of the word. Without Tommy around, Karen has to find her own role to play in things.
So she gets a job at Wild Thingz! and somehow ends up dating Pete. She's spying on him, he's losing what's left of his mind, and things don't unravel quite as quickly as you'd imagine, given that he's not shy about sharing his hatred of the differently biotic and his plan to off Phoebe and lay the blame at Adam's feet.
Which was probably the worst thing to say to Karen since she's a little in love with Phoebe herself.
Karen's parts of the books are told as if she's sharing her story with the one who got away. Only they didn't get away so much as Karen pushed them away, afraid of things changing (which they already had) and how the rest of the world would see them. Karen's quick to point out that she didn't die of a broken heart, she died because she fell into a fit of blue-tinged depression she couldn't find her way out of, but the broken heart might be what brought her back.
That's the other fun thing. Karen isn't just good at passing, she can actually heal wounds. When she's shot at the start of the book, she's more than a little worried about her little sister's reaction to her new face, but after a nap (which is unusual enough) she wakes up and has begun to heal. Later, Karen will use this to her advantage, but it does begin to make her wonder what makes her so special and why?
Despite knowing that Karen's and Pete's plans are going to blow up in their faces, it's still incredibly interesting to watch exactly how that plays out. You're given enough insight into Pete's mind to decide if you feel a bit sorry for him, but not so much that you're sure whether he's changed enough to have actually earned that sympathy or not.
But my favorite bit is the end, when Karen goes 'home' to the one she's been dedicating her story to, and her best friend/could have been girlfriend, reacts the way most people who would kill to have one more day with someone they've lost would: she hugs her tightly and there are tears.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
So when I first started this book I was under the impression that it was the last book in the series. After reading it I was left searching to find out if there was another one. Need less to say I was able to find out that there might, and should be, a fouth and even a fifth book. That being said I give this book 4 stars. However if this book turns out to be the last and final book then it is more like a 3.
I only say this because for every question this book answers it leaves you asking 2 new ones, making it a good "bridger" book. Not so much a good final book. You with me?
In the book we learn ALOT about our little Miss Karen DeSonne. Most of this book is from her perspective. While I was left missing Phoebe and Adam alot during this book I really grew to love Karen even more. We already learned that Karen committed suicide, but we never knew why until now...Has we grow to learn more about Karen we also learn more about about our villian Pete. With Tommy off to Washington Karen and Tak are left to take care of the others. Since Tak is forced to hide underground Karen really steps up. She has spent her whole life pretending to be something that she is not. So why not spend her undead "life" pretending to be alive? Pretending to be a "trad" girl Karen uses Pete to clear Tak and the other zombies names from a murder case they didn't commit. But it takes alot more than pretending to be "trad" to be with Pete. What else is Karen pretending to be?
Well if you wanna know that then you are going to have to pick up the book. You didn't really think that I would spoil it did you? I will say this....in most books there is some hidden message. Like: Don't have sex or Don't do drugs or Stay in school, and so on. The issue that Daniel Waters presents us with in this book is one that I haven't seen anyone touch. My hat goes off to him. It is about time that someone addresses this issue and the consecqusenses that it threatens when people don't think it is all right to accept it. I know that I sound criptic but I really don't waant to give anything away. Trust me once you read this you will understand.
All I can leave you with it that I REALLLLLY want to give our girl Karen a hug and tell her that everything is going to be ok.
Passing Strange (Generation Dead Book #3) by Daniel Waters
Genre: Young Adult | Urban Fantasy | Paranormal Romance
Karen DeSonne is used to pretending to be something she’s not. All her life, she’s passed as a normal all-American teenager; with her friends, with her family, and at school. Passing cost her the love of her life. And now that Karen’s dead, she’s still passing – this time, as alive. Meanwhile, Karen’s dead friends have been fingered in a high-profile murder, causing a new round of anti-zombie regulations that have forced nearly all of Oakvale’s undead into hiding. Karen soon learns that the “murder” was a hoax, staged by Pete Martinsburg and his bioist zealots. Obtaining enough evidence to expose the fraud and prove her friends’ innocence means doing the unthinkable: betraying her love by becoming Pete’s girlfriend. Karen’s only hope is that the enemy never realizes who she really is – because the consequences would be even worse than death.
Karen has always been considered one of the "fast" zombies and the most caring and beautiful as well. She has dear friends who are both living-impaired and heart-beaters, but in the beginning of Passing Strange she learns something about herself that both fascinates and frightens her immensely. Thus, she decides to keep it a secret. Her world has also turned up-side-down, funny thinking that she's a rare zombie to begin with, but seriously . . . her fellow dead-walking friends are now in hiding on the bottom of the local frozen lake for a crime they didn't commit, her family is beginning to emotionally reach out to her in ways she never imagined since her suicide, the government has passed new strict laws where her kind are no longer allowed out without certain authorization, and she was able to pass as being "alive" long enough to get a job at the mall. Strange, right? Now she's taken it upon herself to help her friends, both living and dead, to overcome the injustice being dealt to them by falsely dating (ie. being an undercover agent) the main reason for most of their problems, Pete.
Like all readers following the Generation Dead series, Passing Strange created a twist for it's fans by getting new POVs. The previous two books where told from Tommy, Adam, and Phoebe's perspective, but now we're getting into the thoughts of Karen, Takuyaki, and Pete. Sadly, none of the new three narrators were my favorite in the series, but it was interesting to see the post-zombie world through their eyes. If you read the books, you know the whole concept of how everyone deals with these zombies is really one big metaphor for racism (aka "bioism" in the book). Some people deal with it a lot better than others, but overall it points out the ugliness of prejudices in society. Karen had some really touching moments throughout this book and even had me tearing up as times. Tak really learned about having to step up and take the spot of Tommy as the new leader of the local zombies. Pete was just as dark and evil throughout and didn't really convince me of his actions near the end when his conscious caught up with him, but could someone please explain what exactly was happening to him on page 369?
Also, Passing Strange ends in a why that has the reader really questioning just WHERE the series is headed. Karen's secret becomes even juicer at the end and the last sentence is a major turning point for Generation Dead, even though there seems to be a lot of foreshadowing hidden throughout the text. That's what I find so fasinating throughout these books, there's so many similarities to the past and it's a perfect example of the saying "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it".
Lastly, I'm so shocked this series hasn't become as popular as I would have liked it too. I was obsessed from book one and I know all these books will be a permanent fixture in my library. Yet, I would like more of the reading public to check them out as well since they're a delight and are definitely one of my favorites!!!
Likes: Tak and his gang (Popeye & Tayshawn) were really funny together.
Dislikes: I would have liked to see more of Tommy, but I know he's off doing better and brighter things right now and we'll be seeing more of him in the future of the series. Yet, if you think about who he's starting to become, that's just another huge foreshadowing of what will happen in the next couple of books. Just think about which historical figure he most resembles right now and sadly, I think they'll share the same fate!
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. The first two installments in the series was Okay, but this book really disappointed me.
Karen has always been one of my favorite characters. She's cute and fun and I always suspected that she had a thing for girls. When I discovered that this book would mostly be from her point of view, I was all like "Okay, I'm on board! Let's mix it up a little!" But as I began to read, I literally felt my eyelids closing. It took me nearly two hundred pages to even get interested, and after that I didn't hang on very long. There were several times when I shoved the book to the side and started reading another.
This book also focuses on Tak (one of the creepy zombies) and Pete (a psychopathic zombie killer person). Karen has to date Pete in order to get to the bottom of the charges that were pressed against the zombies in the previous book. I expected it to be sort of suspenseful and really make me feel the repulsion of having to date the enemy. Instead, there was absolutely no suspense whatsoever. Throughout the entire book it flips perspectives from Karen to Pete to Tak. With all three of those combined there was really little mystery left in the plot.
I found myself really missing Adam and Pheobe, because now that they're together and Adam is breaking all sorts of zombie laws, I wanted to see more of their story. But they are only really mentioned in passing.
A lot of the characters felt very flat to me in this story. Tak and Pete especially. I mean, we understand why Pete hates all of zombiekind and why he's going off and trying to eliminate them all. It just feels kind of pushed for me. "Oh, my girlfriend didn't come back so you guys are all evil." That doesn't even make sense to me. I feel like his motives were more crazy than justified.
Now, onto The reasons I liked it:
The premise. I think the whole "trying to get zombies to fit in with society" idea is kind of nifty. I like that they're not "AHHHH BRAINS!" because, quite frankly, that kind of thing kind of makes me scared to go to sleep. I also like, in this book, the idea of a lesbian zombie. It's just unique.
You can find this review and many more on MY BLOG!
REVIEW: Passing Strange was a lot different than the other two books in the series. Mainly because the main character switches from Phoebe to a zombie that could pass as human. I am still not sure whether or not I think this hindered or helped the series.
For one, I loved Phoebe. Her activism and willingness to help everyone was one of the main reasons I enjoyed this series, and now that it has switched to the zombie (I am not saying the name for those of you who ignored the spoiler warning) you only see her a few times in the story. I still liked this new person's point of view and fresh telling of what was happening, but it lacked a little for me without Pheeble.
I think the plot was okay in Passing Strange. It wasn't spectacular but it kept me entertained at the same time. I still love the idea behind it all, and I think the story is a great one, it is just lacking a little something that sends this over the edge into 'ohmeeegawd' zone. As far as I know this is the last book in the series, and it really didn't seem wrapped up to me. There wasn't any cliffhangers or anything and things were sort of wrapped up, but I would have liked to see more.
All in all, this series is something you should look into, but don't pressure yourself to read it right away. Some of you will find yourselves pleasantly surprised while others will walk away disappointed.
FIRST LINE: "I don't want to die, I thought."
RATING BREAKDOWN: Plot: 15/20 Characters: 16/20 Writing: 16/20 Creativity: 18/20 Ending: 7/10 The 'It' Factor: 6/10 =78/100, C
This book contains the following: Violence Mild Cursing
Imagine turning up to school and all your friends who had died are now Zombies except you are not allowed to call them Zombies , they are the Living Impaired. For those who haven't read Generation Dead and Kiss of Life (Book One and Two) then you may find Passing Strange more than a tad odd."Just A Warning". This is one of those series , where in order to follow the story you have to read the books in order. Whereas the first two stories follow the main characters of Phoebe , Tommy and her friend Adam and their interesting love triangle - a bit like Stephenie Meyer has created with the Short Second Life of Bree Tanner , Passing Strange focuses on a minor character who has a story of her own to share. Passing Strange tells the story of Karen DeSonne , she has risen from the dead and has come back as a Zombie, not that she wanted to after killing herself as a suicidal act. After events and tragedies that occurred in the second book "Kiss of Life" a new law has been brought out that Zombies must be accompanied by an adult at all times. For Karen, she is one of the lucky ones - add a new hair colour and contacts and she passes as a regular teenage girl. After an event which causes her friends to be accused of murder , Karen must infiltrate the enemy and find out what conspiracy is setting the zombies up for a fall . A Fun story of Mystery, Romance and Zombies. I have enjoyed all the books so far and can't wait to see where Dan takes the books next. These books would also make a good film.
This third book in the Generation Dead series centers on Karen DeSonne, one of the biotically different (zombies) who is passing as a beating heart (living). After she is shot by a policeman and mysteriously heals unlike the other zombies who return with the damage that caused their deaths, Karen decides to date murderer Pete Martinsburg to try to expose the truth about the anti-zombie hate groups. As the story progresses, we learn more about Karen's death as a suicide. She drowned herself because of her mother's reaction to her disclosure of being gay and her belief that she could never be with the girl she loved. Some secondary characters from Generation Dead and Kiss of Life return for cameo appearances but this is mainly Karen's story and her hope to find redemption.
Ok, this book was a little different than the other 2. This one was told by "Zombie" Karen. She set out on a quest to expose Pete for the true piece of you-know-what that he is. She had to do some pretty outrageous stuff and make some people mad, but in the end she succeeded. Or did she? She also made some pretty incredible discoveries about herself. The ending of this book was not what I was expecting. It doesn't end in a cliff-hanger but it doesn't exactly end end. It leaves the door wide open for more to tell. Hint hint Daniel!!
The book is still clever in concept. And the story was pretty good this time. But I was not happy with the direction Waters took one of his main characters. I was not impressed at all. How he turned this character smacks of either shock value or pandering to certain markets. For that reason, my rating was taken down a star.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I think this is my favorite book in this trilogy. Karen was my favorite character in the first two books, so it was nice to see her behind the narrative wheel in this one. It is definitely a different take on continuing the story. The different points of view really helped to keep things from getting too repetitive.
I thought this was a well written, quick read. It may be a little juvenile for people past their teens (or even some in their teens), but the series is enjoyable.
I would recommend this to zombie-loving, romantics and I will be watching out for Daniel Waters to write more.
SUMMARY: SPOILERS AHEAD!
Adam is a zombie learning how to function. Pete has hired a lawyer to defend him in the trial of Adam’s murder, but he keeps calling Phoebe by Julie’s (ex-girlfriend that died). Phoebe is trying to keep things normal and help Adam. Tak and the Sons of Romero are trying to raise awareness through rebellious art.
While Phoebe is still going to school, Adam has to stay behind at home because he doesn’t have enough function yet. When Phoebe’s friends start asking her why she’s dressing differently, Karen points out that she isn’t dressing in her usual Got garb because she doesn’t want to appear to be mourning for Adam. Tommy approaches Phoebe in the hall, but she’s not ready to talk to him yet. She ends up yelling at him for not stepping in front of the bullet that was shot at her. She is blaming Tommy for Adam’s death.
Adam decides to go to the Foundation thinking that it will help him become more like Tommy and Karen (able to function, more or less, like a normal teenager). While there, the class meets a new zombie named Melissa—who always wears a mask—and Cooper. They are then updated that their classmate (who left for “augmentation” weeks ago), Sylvia, was past the first stage.
Adam goes to his trial, but the entire thing ends up being very frustrating considering that he can’t talk well yet. There is a loud noise and a scream. Pete ends up with community service and therapy at the Foundation for a “crime of negligence.” This is where he meets Duke Davidson.
Phoebe ends up going to school without Adam because his mom says he’s “too sick.” Rather than arguing, Phoebe lets it go and heads off to school in her usual way of dressing: black clothes. She ends up breaking things off with Tommy officially. She tells him that she doesn’t have time for anyone but Adam, but she is also unsure that Tommy even wants her (rather than just any living girl).
The zombies throw a small party at the Haunted House and Phoebe takes Adam in the hopes of cheering him up. Margi questions Phoebe’s relationship status about Tommy and Phoebe informs her that she is with Adam. Adam decides that he wants to visit the spot where he died. Karen tries to talk him out of it, but he is determined to go and to go alone. He meets Tak there and Tak tells him about how he will start to remember things and will grow to hate the living.
Pete’s father is bugging him about seeing a plastic surgeon to fix the scar on his face from Tak. Pete is reluctant to do so for many reasons; one reason being that his father would stop calling him. He arrives at the Foundation and Duke starts asking him about the zombies and his reactions to different events that have been going on. Pete keeps his feelings to himself, but thinks that Duke is fishing for information somehow.
Adam gets a visit from Master Griffin, his karate instructor. He tells Adam that he needs to be positive about his recovery and tells him to go through the forms that he learned while living.
As the group is heading to the Foundation, Tommy asks to speak to Phoebe. He tells her that she was brave to date him and that he still has feelings for her. Phoebe wants to explain that it wasn’t an act of bravery, but her feelings, but the conversation is cut short. At the foundation, Cooper tells the story of the Dickinson House fire that he and Melissa suffered through. He explains that there were white vans with men in white Tyvek suits. They had shotguns and used squirt guns filled with gasoline. After the story, Tommy announces that he is leaving the class (and school in general) to pursue field work. On the ride home, Adam wants Phoebe to sit with her friends so that she can be around the living. She argues with the “weird sisters” for a while before they start talking about the current situation with Tommy. Adam is trying to push Phoebe away, but is having trouble considering he still loves her.
Joe, Adam’s step-dad, start’s teaching Phoebe how to drive. Adam is a little upset that it wasn’t him teaching her. They are dropped off at the Dojo and Adam starts working with Master Griffin again. Phoebe is noticing the progress that the karate has helped achieve. Thinking of what Tommy said about love and kissing, Phoebe goes to make her first move on Adam and he denies her. She runs out of the house embarrassed.
Phoebe goes to Tommy’s house to talk to him. Karen is there and expecting Phoebe to talk sense into Tommy. However, he explains that he must go and that Phoebe and Karen will be taking over the website for him. Tommy also slips Phoebe the first poem that she wrote him with a note saying that he’ll want it back someday. Margi offers Karen a ride him, but Karen refuses as she has other things to do, like reading to Mal. Tommy then goes to visit Adam to say goodbye and to ask him to watch over the remaining zombies.
Pete strikes up a conversation with Duke about his family. He then goes to mop up the lab. Later, Duke implies that the real experiments are not done in the “lab.”
Back at the foundation, there is some disagreement between the teens about whether Pete should be allowed to work off his community service at the Foundation. Some of the group has a talk with Alish about what they have found out about zombies since they started the experiments. After the meeting, Margi and Collette want Phoebe to hang out with them, but she refuses. Adam isn’t home, so she goes home and her mom tells her about a newspaper article where zombies are killing pets. George, one of the Sons of Romero, is pictured, but Phoebe explains that she doesn’t think he would do that.
Phoebe writes her first post for mysocalledundeath.com. She receives an email from Tommy with his own addition to the blog. They end up signing there emails with “love,” which confuses Phoebe somewhat.
Margi, Collete, Karen, and Phoebe decide to go to New York City to visit a zombie club called Aftermath. On the train ride over, they happen to meet half of the band that will be playing at the club and are added to the guest list. They get to the club and find that not only do zombies work there, but the place is decorated in everything zombie (movie posters, etc). They meet some zombies on the dance floor, who ask them questions about Tommy and the website. Skeleton Crew starts playing, and after the set, joins the crowd. Collette and DeCayce hit it off and decide to keep in touch.
Pete continues his therapy with Angela. He explains that he didn’t want to hurt Adam or Phoebe, just Tommy and about his hatred for zombies. Duke starts to explain the bigger picture to Pete, like that Duke was the one killing the pets so that the zombies would get blamed. He eventually makes an insinuation that he can help Pete get back at Tak.
The undead studies class takes a field trip to the Haunted House, accompanied by Alish and Angela. Popeye shows off some of his artwork and Tak says that there is no way that his group would be killing pets. He asks Karen to join them the next time they go out, but she is reluctant. Tak still doesn’t believe that the living can be trusted or counted on.
Phoebe talks with Karen and starts to realize that she really does love Adam. Adam talks to Master Griffin and Joe and both tell him that should not be pushing Phoebe away. Adam goes to Phoebe’s house to make up and ends up kissing her. Though there is no instant resurrection as Tommy had hoped, he is still pleased with the results. They end up going on a date at the mall and no one really seems to notice, or at least say anything about it.
Pete and Duke start setting up their own pictures to blame the zombies for digging up graves. Popeye sets up a pictures using mannequins and zombies . Karen helps out and supplies from shirts from her job at Wild Thingz. Tak and the rest thank her for her help and want to welcome her to the group, but she states that she’s not ready for the commitment yet.
Some detectives come to the next undead studies class and start asking questions about the grave digging pictures. Since the pictures came out, most traditional people are becoming afraid of the zombies again. The zombie students have to be escorted to classes. Phoebe ends up getting a detention for helping one out of a bullying situation.
After school, Tak stops by Adams house to let him know that he is not responsible for the graves. They agree to disagree on their attempts to “speak” to the living through their actions.
Phoebe goes over to Margi and Collette’s for a sleepover and they start reminiscing about what they used to do together. Collette tells Phoebe what it was like after she died. Phoebe has more communication between her and Tommy about what is going on in each of their lives.
Duke finally shows Pete one of the real experiments: Sylvia. She has been completely taken apart and pieces of her are lying all over the room that she is in. The worst part is that she is still living, but begging to be destroyed to end it. Duke gives Pete a book to read by Reverend Mathers. Pete says that the zombie-hating reverend never went far enough with his actions. He says that the Hunters (Alish and Angela) know about this and that he will talk to them about Pete.
Phoebe, Adam, Collete, and Margi make another trip to Aftermath, however, Collette decides to stay with DeCayce rather than returning home with her friends.
Back at the Foundation, Pete leads the undead studies group to believe that their friend, Sylvia is back. However, they find her in her room, still dissected. Alish and Angela try to tell everyone that they are helping Sylvia and that she will be more functional after the procedure. However, Karen declares that the classes are over. Karen had taken pictures of Sylvia and sent them to news stations. Segregation between the living and the dead at the High School gets worse.
Pete and Duke are part of another scandal that will make the public believe that zombies are now recruiting the living. They set up a news story saying that Pete’s attorney and family have gone missing, with pictures of people in zombie masks to “back it up.”
The Son’s of Romero go to St. Jude’s church to set up another picture using the nativity scene. However, the cops arrive and chase them off. Melissa, who lives at the church, went outside to see what was going on and was only saved because of Father Fitzpatrick. George was taken down and Karen was shot in the face. The others got away and decided that the zombies would have to go into hiding.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Me ha sorprendido muchísimo. No me esperaba que me fuera a gustar tanto y, sin embargo, Daniel Waters ha logrado una mejora increíble desde Beso de vida hasta Extrañas apariencias.
La historia, contraria a su antecesor, ha avanzado con creces. Aborda muchos temas interesantes que han sido tratados con la suficiente profundidad, respeto y, al mismo tiempo, dureza, que merecen. El ritmo se ha mantenido siempre positivo, dejándome con ganas de más. Karen como protagonista es simplemente genial. Se ha vuelto mi personaje favorito con diferencia. Algunos personajes secundarios, haciendo una especial mención a Takayuki, han logrado sorprenderme para bien y cogerles un cariño insospechado.
El autor y su prosa se han vuelto más destacables en esta novela. Tiene ciertas frases y reflexiones que tuve que marcar con un post-it sí o sí.
Y ahora… Mi gran drama con este libro.
Pobre inocente de mí, pensaba que era una trilogía. Pero termino el libro llena de dudas y problemas sin solucionar. Decido buscarlo por Internet y… What? ¿Qué? ¡¿Por qué a mí?! Quedan dos libros más para terminar la saga y la editorial no piensa publicarlos.
Solo espero que alguna editorial se anime porque tengo muchísimas ganas de saber cómo va a terminar esta historia :(
“I don't want to die, I thought. Not again.” ― Daniel Waters, Passing Strange
Passing Strange is the third book in the Generation Dead series. Passing Strange offers the reader an entirely new perspective, following Karen rather than Phoebe. This allows the story to explore directly from the point of view of one of the "Zombies", offering an interesting and exciting insight into the emotional impact of returning from the dead and surviving in the world without the rights offered to those living.
One of the greatest aspects of passing strange is its exploration of depression and other mental health issues and their effects on a person and their family, pre and post death.
Passing Strange Ends in a place that could work somewhat as a (Unsatisfying) conclusion however leaves the story open for a continuation of the series (There are a number of short stories and collection that tells stories but no direct continuation of the series currently)
Overall, Passing Strange is a great 3rd act to the Generation Dead story whose strength lies much more within the character exploration than the overall story.
my girlfriend adores this series and i wanted to love it too because she took the concept of “telepathetic” and made it ours. she told me that karen was gay and that intrigued me, but the entire first twenty-five characters develops a fake heterosexual relationship with maybe dropping two or three hints about a past relationship with a girl. since this was written by a man, it put me off for that reason. not to mention the author writes karen so voyeuristically (he won’t let us forget she’s hot). i get it! she’s a 17 year old lesbian cheerleader and she’s hella femme! but, holy fuck...
it tries to hard to make a statement about oppression and ties the plight of various minorities to black people or disabled people and it ends up feeling tacky, preachy and stolen. it’s a product of 2010 and it’s weird desire for niche dystopian fiction.
This is probably the worst one of the 3, ONLY because it is very clearly unfinished?? I feel like so much was left open ended, I couldn't believe it. And maybe I'm just not understanding correctly, but Pete's final scenes were confusing af? I couldn't tell if he was fully snapping, and imagining himself in zombie state, or if he's straight up been a zombie for some time?? Besides the ending the actual story is good, it's the ending that completely ruins it. I also don't understand the complaints that Karen's sexuality was "forced" or anything. I could tell from book 1, I think people are just dense about that kind of thing still.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Honestly, I found the writing all over the place in this novel. It’s been a while since I have read the other books in the series, so I had forgotten a lot of what happened, which could have made it more difficult to read. But everything was so jumbled and weird and I honestly don’t understand parts. Like why did Tak lose his shit on Adam? Why would Adam have known what was going on and why was it his fault? Because he knew Pete? Maybe... It was just a little too all over the place for me.
While i am not the biggest fan of this series, it wasn't half bad. In the previous entry and this one Waters does make some pretty decent intrigue which makes me interested to see what will happen next. I also did like that we did get Takayuki's POV and he is one of the more memorable characters in this series. Although the ending was good in itself i will read the other two Generation Dead related books when i can
Karen DeSonne has tricked a lot of people lately. She works at the local Wild Thingz! store, until recently attended Oakvale High, and even develops a passing relationship with a boy. There’s a few problems, though. One, which boy is she dating? Two, why is she dating him? And three, Karen’s been dead for about four years. With her friend Tommy Williams lobbying in Washington D.C. for fair treatment for the Differently Biotic across America, Karen’s been helping Phoebe, Adam, and other Oakvale teenagers (living or not) investigate a suspicious murder, uncover a possible conspiracy, and protect other zombie teens who have had to go into hiding due to rising anti-zombie sentiment. She has her hands full, to say the least. Then again, don’t most teenagers?
Daniel Waters has switched POV on us before. Generation Dead and Kiss of Life both have multiple character threads, but usually one is a bit more dominant than the others. Passing Strange follows that trend with one notable difference: Karen’s POV overwhelms all others, and those are few and far between. Karen’s narrative is so intensely personal, I felt intrusive at times. She’s still quite guarded, which doesn’t hinder the novel in any way. In fact, it makes it better. We already know Karen’s an odd case. Suicides never come back to life. Or, at least they didn’t before Karen. Not only does that make her unique, but so does her strange ability to smell, her faster than average speech, and her smooth body movements when compared to the jerky coordination and sluggish articulation trademark to most Differently Biotic persons. She’s become very good at passing for a living teenager. What we don’t know—and what we continue to not know until well into the book—is the reason behind Karen’s suicide.
That’s a big mystery and it’s been a looming question in my mind from the moment we first met her. She’s determined, optimistic, loving, supportive, but most important of all: Karen appears to be the least likely girl to become depressed. So what drove her to feel that taking her life was the next best available option was very important to understanding her character. That being said, I don’t completely want to spoil you, but I do think Waters handles teen depression very respectfully—better than he has other social and political issues so far. That’s not to say he’s handled the others poorly. He’s done very well overall. I just think he took special care with Karen. And with nearly an entire book dedicated to her and her past, how could he not?
There are some things that aren’t explained, for all the effort Waters put into Karen. Pete Martinsburg, for example, is one sick boy I struggled to sympathize with. I dug real deep. Real, real deep, but kept coming up with nasty things to say about him (or to him, if I ever met him). I still feel he’s more pathetic and loathsome than he is regretful. The insight Waters gave us to Pete’s psyche in Generation Dead seemed like he was tipping his hand a bit too early. Finding out the villain’s motivations right away tends to ruin the suspense or the chance that she/he might be more complicated than cardboard. What it really did, though, was open a can of worms that refused to be cleaned up. Pete probably stepped on some, smashed others, or tore a few in half with his teeth. He has so much anger and hatred that is clearly misdirected at Phoebe and her zombie friends, that I really couldn’t stand the guy. I still can’t, to be honest. His last appearance makes him out to be a frightened, lost kid who really does need guidance and is groping for the only real help he thinks he can get. Call me hard-hearted, but I still don’t like him.
Is Pete more complicated? Probably. He certainly convinced me that there is a lot going on inside that head of his. Frankly, I don’t care to peek inside any longer, but Waters made me think his journey isn’t over yet. In fact, I think another sequel is a must! Passing Strange seemed like it had a happy ending: Karen found resolution, Davidson is hauled off to jail, the zombie teens are well on their way to having their names cleared, but it isn’t all rainbows and cupcakes in Oakvale. The Hunter Foundation is still being funded by shady individuals and organizations, or at least that’s what I came to understand. Not to mention the Reverend Nathan Mathers and his sinister machinations, especially when compared to Father Fitzpatrick and how benevolent he’s been, helping the plight of Differently Biotics, is outrageous enough to make my skin crawl. And he’s the one who Pete keeps turning back to. I cannot wait to see whether Pete goes and comes back from Arizona with a roving hoard of enraged and religious zealouts claiming God on their side against the Demons, or, whether as Luke Skywalker says, “There is still good in him.”
The Generation Dead books are a lot of fun, but also very engrossing. Waters has a knack for showing humanity at its best and its worst, even if sometimes it’s more transparent than I’d like. There is still something very endearing about this series and I hope he continues to write more. If you’ve read the previous two, you need to read Passing Strange.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster UK for my review copy!
“Unfortunately, people have a tendency to respond more rapidly and more appropriately when frightened or angry than they do if shown care or concern. Fear and hate are stronger motivators than love. And, you’ll find that people respond more to feeling than fact.” “...It isn’t how much you are loved, but how much you love that matters.”
Interesting parallels to the treatment of black people in Civil Rights Movement, except that that was real and this...is...not. Will read fourth book only because the investment I already put into reading the previous books in the series.
I loved this book, it's been a while since I read the first two but after a chapter or two I was able to really get into the book and remembered almost everyone. This book is mostly about Karen and I just loved her.
Passing Strange by Daniel Waters is a Generation Dead novel. While I think the book is most effective read within the series it can stand alone. I'm going to outline some major issues it deals with and then talk about the plot.
"I pretended I wasn't depressed. I pretended I wasn't in love--look where that got me. I pretended lots of other thing too, and now I'm pretending I'm alive."
Issues It Deals With
"sometime almost feeling alive is worse than not feeling alive at all. When I was depressed, that's what I felt like, like I was almost alive. And knowing I'd never quite make it the rest of the way" (Waters 144)
Karen became a zombie because she killed herself, and in this book she explores why she did it, "the blue fog took me away" (145). Throughout the book Karen brings up a "fog" of sadness that prevented her from enjoying or even fully participating in life. She was held back by her depression, and it seemed to define her.
Waters uses Karen to argue that "there aren't any reasons for most young suicides beyond depression, just triggers" (145). He also offers some ways of dealing with depression; "Friend who can listen are a good antidote to the fog" (177). In fact love and friendship seem to be what bring zombies back, the ones who have supportive families or relationships have better dexterity and speech. Love gets you through the zombish fog of depression.
I like that Waters doesn't brush over Karen's family's reactions to her suicide. Her mother doesn't want to deal with her at all, her father seems hurt and distant, and her sister doesn't realize it ever happened. Her father's private way of dealing with her death is explored in some detail later in the book (149), I won't spoil it but it made me relate to him a lot better.
It takes a long time in the novel for her to come out and say it, but a factor in her suicide was her inability to come out of the closet. She talks about her confusion about her feelings, her denial to herself about being in love.
"I didn't want to be gay. I was too scared to be gay."(203)
She discusses how her fear of showing her true feelings in public or being seen with the girl she loved hurt that girl she was ashamed of. Karen had an extremely painful coming out to her mother, and partly because of this she continued to date boys even as a zombie. She has trouble reconciling her faith and her sexuality, and finds it easier to tell the priest she killed herself than telling him she is a lesbian. I'm definitely not an expert on the difficulties of having a minority sexual orientation but I think Waters did a good job at exploring the difficulty LGBQ teens face.
The Insightfulness of Young Children
Karen's little sister Katy sees that there is prejudice going on and she doesn't like it. Waters uses a scene of playing with Barbies to show that kids pick up on things. Katy makes her prettiest Barbie a zombie like her sister. She explains to Karen that no one likes this Barbie because she is dead, but that the Barbie shouldn't be sad, because she still thinks she's nice and pretty. This is Katy's way of telling Karen she sees that she is being mistreated but she still loves her.
When Karen gets depressed again and spends all day in her room her very young sister comes to the conclusion that "the bad mans got you!" because she knows from overhearing adults that zombies are being slaughtered.
Prejudice in General
The zombies in Waters world have no civil rights; "We can't get insurance. We can't vote, we can't get married. There isn't much we can do" (92). This reminds me of in X-Men when Gene Gray goes to Washington to fight for mutant rights, even though in Passing Strange we only hear snippets from Tommy who has done just that.
Ok so now that I've talked about what issues Waters explores are you intrigued?
Karen is badly wounded in the attack that takes place at the end of Kiss Of Life but discovers that unlike any recorded zombie she has the ability to heal! In no time she is her beautiful self again and looks and moves more human than any of her undead friends. She dyes her hair, uses colour contacts, makeup and voila she can pass as human. She works at the mall pretending to be alive, partly to prove she can, partly to lay the way for future zombies and also because she likes being treated like a human. When Pete, the guy who killed Adam in Generation Dead, flirts with her and doesn't recognize her from the time he threatened to kill her she sees an opportunity. Now she must tolerate dating Pete to get close and prove that he framed zombies for violence and prevent him from murdering her best friend.
I enjoyed the book a lot but maybe not as much as Generation Dead. It dealt more directly with the issues that were touched on briefly in the other books, this was great but slowed down the action. There were a few really suspenseful chapters that kept me up late because I couldn't stop reading until I found out what happened. I will read pretty much anything Waters writes because he's been consistently awesome.
Ugh, I finally finished this book. I had a really hard time getting interested in this book. I really didn't care to read from Karen's point of view. It was like it was from a different series or something. Phoebe, Adam and Tommy were barely in it. Tommy technically wasn't "present" at all. There were just updates about him every now and then, but nothing in depth. I would say I was at least a good 150 pages in the story until I started getting interested. When I finally did get interested I started actually liking Pete. Weird, because I didn't like him in any of the other books.
I didn't care for the whole lesbian thing. I just didn't get why two guys fell in love with Karen, one feeling a strong connection to her and willing to risk himself and all the other zombies to save her, and the other changing his way of thinking about zombies because of her. BUT she didn't even like either of them in return, in that way because she was gay. I didn't see the point of that. It bugged me. Why create such impossible situations and circumstances for the characters that can never be resolved? ALSO, from what I have been able to find, this was the last book in the series and there are no plans for a 4th book. So why did Daniel Waters leave it so open for another book. Things are still not resolved for anyone. The zombies are still hiding, Reverend Mathers is now coming to town, the whole Phoebe, Tommy and Adam still does not feel resolved to me either, ESPECIALLY after going to the books blog, www.mysocalledundeath.com. This was the last post.
hoebe, I lost my cell phone in Texas, which is why I haven’t called.
But I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I’ve been thinking about Evan and Texas and what happened to Karen and more and more I’m coming to the conclusion that life is short. Even differently biotic life is short, it seems. Some of us—zombies, I mean, but I guess trads too—act like we’re immortal. Nothing could be further from the truth. We disappear a bit more every day. I’ve been thinking a lot, Phoebe.
I’ve been thinking of you.
I know you’re with Adam now. Adam is my best friend in Oakvale; he’s the first trad guy to stand up for me and I’d never do anything to hurt either of you. He gave his life for you, and I will always owe him for that.
But Phoebe…things weren’t over between us. You know it and I know it. I may have stepped aside, but I was lying to myself. I was lying to you. I thought that time and distant would change the way I felt but if anything my feelings have only grown stronger.
I think you know what I’m talking about. I think there’s a part of you—and maybe, right now, it is only a tiny, fragile part—that feels the same way.
When I’m done here in Washington I’m going back to Oakvale. I’m going back to Oakvale because there’s a lot that I have to say to you.
WHAT IS THE POINT OF ALL THAT?!!!! If there isn't going to be another book, why tease the readers like that? The whole thing that got me interested in this series was Tommy and Phoebe's relationship, but nothing was ever really resolved with it. It kind of angers me that so much was left unresolved.
The most recent posts on the blog have been from Margi, the last one being Valentines day, 3 days ago. Does that mean Waters is prepping his readers for a 4th book from Margi's POV? I hope not, I wish he would go back to Phoebe. She is the one I'm most interested in.
Despite all the negative remarks I've made, this was still a pretty good series, and even a good book. But I'm just really annoyed that as far as I can tell, this is the end of the series.
Karen DeSonne is good at fooling people. She's passed as the normal girl, the responsible daughter, and even the happy girl. The was before she killed herself.
That was before she came back.
Now, Karen is making the most of her second chance at life--or whatever it is when the dead start walking around.
Things go horribly wrong when her dead friends' planned social protest turns into a shootout after the zombies are accused of murder. Karen makes it away, but many other zombies in Oakvale are forced into hiding when it becomes illegal to be dead and walking around.
Karen knows that zombies had nothing to do with this crime. And she knows where to go to clear their names. In order to get the proof and help her people, Karen is going to have to wear the ultimate disguise. She'll have to pretend to like Pete Martinsburg--a known zombie killer. But Karen's pretended to like people before. The hard part, the part that could land her in a whole world of trouble, will be pretending she's alive. Karen's fooled everyone close to her at least once, but will she be able to pull off the charade of a lifetime (or un-lifetime) in Passing Strange (2010) by Daniel Waters.
Passing Strange is the third installment in Daniel Water's quirky series about the walking dead in Oakvale (preceeded by the first book Generation Dead and Kiss of Life). This book is a departure from the first two in the series and would be a good place to start the series without missing a lot . . . except that this one is so much less than the first (and even the second) book.
Waters has abandoned his usual alternating perspectives and instead spends most of the book narrating in Karen's voice. Unfortunately that voice is vacuous and sadly under-developed, particularly when compared to the writing from the other books (or even the third person parts in Passing Strange). Karen has had a complete personality shift from earlier in the series with seemingly no reason except to titillate readers. A girl who had previously seemed strong and grounded, comes across as flighty and insipid.
The entire book was erratic and a shocking departure from its two tightly written and well-put-together predecessors. Sometimes Karen is talking in present tense, sometimes the past tense. Sometimes she addresses a mysterious "you" to no effect.* To make matters worse story threads that were raised in the earlier books are largely abandoned and sloppily set aside.
This book is a must read for anyone who has been following the series and wants to know what's happening with their favorite zombies and their traditionally biotic friends (unless that includes Tommy or Phoebe who are barely in this one) but it is also a vast disappointment after Waters' clever, sharp debut.
*The person is revealed by the end of the book but she isn't speaking directly to the person the way a character does in A Conspiracy of Kings so it really makes no sense at all.
Possible Pairings: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson, Tamar by Mal Peet, Pretties by Scott Westerfeld, A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner