Jim Flanagan's Reviews > Zombie

Zombie by J.R. Angelella
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Jan 13, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: first-reads, challenge-2012

** spoiler alert ** I felt a dedication to finish this book, as I was given a prerelease copy as part of Goodreads' First Reads program. If it weren't for the nature of this program (to elicit reader reviews from Goodreads members), I probably would have never finished this book. The problem I have with this novel is that it doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Most of the book is about an awkward, friendless teen coping with entering high school and his dysfunctional family. Near the end of the book, it drastically shifts to a gore-filled horror story. When you have 200+ pages of a kid avoiding bullies and acting awkward around girls and suddenly he's in an abandoned building watching masked men masturbate as live bodies get mutilated, it makes me, as a reader, feel deceived. I thought I was reading a Young Adult novel about how awful high school is. What does this horror show have to do with a kid who uses zombie movie survival tactics to get through his adolescence? Maybe I missed something. I can't recommend this book to someone who wants a coming of age story, as the ending is too far removed from that genre. I also can't recommend it to fans of horror stories, as all of the teen angst that makes up a majority of the book is too difficult to get through.

I will say that taken on its own, I did enjoy the horror portion of the book. It was disturbing and twisted in a way that reminds me of Chuck Palahniuk. I would have preferred a story geared to adults that focused on a son trying to discover what has happened to his father that leads to the confrontation with the mutilation cult; everything dealing with the high school and the Zombie Survival Code could be dropped and I wouldn't miss it. I know that would completely alter this novel and remove it's gimmick ("Jeremy lives his life like a character in the zombie movies he loves"), but it's what I would have liked to have read. Maybe someday Mr. Angelella will write a pure horror novel geared for an adult audience, and when he does, I will want to read it, but until then, I think I'll let his YA books stay on the shelf.

Lastly, I do have to mention the use of the biblical epic The Greatest Story Ever Told as a zombie film. That's a wickedly funny idea. The part where Jeremy and Father Vincent discuss this film was one of my favorite parts of the book.
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