Joe's Reviews > Generation Dead

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters
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's review
Nov 16, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: young-adult, borrowed-library
Recommended for: people who like to be bored to death (HA!)
Read in November, 2008

Oh, my. How can I put this lightly?

Generation Dead is Twilight, but with zombies instead of vampires. And it's just as terrible.

To wit:

Meet Phoebe. She's a goth girl! (How 1999!) Phoebe listens to so many cool bands, like This Mortal Coil and Bronx Casket Company. We know this because author Daniel Waters assures us every fifteen pages that he is an expert on his goth rock. Phoebe also writes poetry! It's really, really terrible poetry, too!

Meet Adam. Phoebe lives next door to him. He's a football player! But they're BFF anyway! He's so forward thinking! And he has a crush on her! Does she like him?! Sometimes when Adam and Phoebe need a heart-to-heart, they toss around the Frisbee. Now that's character development!

Meet Margi. She's Phoebe's BFF, too! And also a goth girl! But she's, like, not as open-minded as Phoebe. She also talks a lot. Sometimes this annoys Phoebe!! OMG!

Meet Tommy. He's dead. That's right. Dead. You see, some teenagers are returning from the dead. Only teenagers and only in America. Do we know why? No! It's just, like, happening! This freaks most people out, but not Phoebe! She's perfectly fine with it (because she's goth!!!) and she ropes Margi and Adam into joining an outreach program to help understand the 'differently biotic'. Also, Phoebe is totes crushing on Tommy!

But trouble's a-brewing...

... and I wish I could divulge in every sordid detail, but I've already wasted hours of my life reading and/or thinking about this book. What I will say is this: Waters writes with about as much flair as a zombie. Despite having a clever and potentially amusing idea, he mangles the narrative by shifting character point-of-view, often in a single paragraph. On top of that, he strings together multiple red herrings without ever explaining a single one and (much like Stephenie Meyer), his narrative trundles along for 350 pages before it occurs to him to have a denouement. His worst offense, though, is bludgeoning the reader with didactic, ham-fisted observations about prejudice, which, given the context, could have been searing. Instead it is delivered in absurd statements like, "Senator Mallory from Idaho introduced [The Undead Citizens Act:] by comparing differently biotic people to illegal immigrants." (Waters follows this observation up with... nothing. It's dropped as quickly as it's introduced.)

Some idiot from Kirkus Reviews had the audacity to liken Daniel Waters to John Green. I would like to bathe that reviewer in the rivers of projectile vomiting I spewed after reading the treacly, sappy ending to this godawful book (and thinking about all the 390 pages of garbage that came before it).
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Reading Progress

11/18/2008 page 139
11/18/2008 page 139
35.46% "Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz."
03/01/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-31 of 31) (31 new)

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message 1: by Diana (new)

Diana id love to hear you review Gossip Girl or something

you'd probably be SO good at it XD

message 2: by Runa27 (new)

Runa27 "Generation Dead is Twilight, but with zombies instead of vampires. And it's just as terrible. "

Spoiler alert for those who haven't read it. You were warned.

Wrong on both counts. The characters - even by your own descriptions! - are practically NOTHING like the main characters in Twilight. Phoebe, for one, is not nearly the weak-willed, horny Mary Sue that (the very much NOT a spunky-perky-goth) Bella Swan is, and Tommy is arguably less of a "manic depressive flailing, controlling psycho stalker" (which would be Edward Cullen in a nutshell) than he is "a self-interested wannabe rebel who is a bit too cold for a real relationship to form". The love triangle does NOT feature the teen girl sacrificing her humanity for jerkass undead, but in fact has her realizing that Tommy is just using her to make waves and NOT being OK with it.

The plot (leaving aside the aspect of "teen drama" which is, you know, in EVERY young adult novel, hello) is also completely, utterly different, with the absolute ONLY similarity being "it features a teenage love triangle featuring a dead guy". A love triangle that isn't even the only focus of the book, no less, since the book has, oh you know, actual plot developments. This is in contrast to Twilight, which is the literary equivalent of "he hates me! He loves me! OMG GIGGLE, YOU HANG UP. NO, YOU HANG UP GIGGLE GIGGLE" up until, what, the last 50 pages of the first book? Also, last I checked? The vampires-and-werewolves-hate-each-other cliche was, you know, completely absent from the ZOMBIE BOOK. Additionally, just... seriously. Actually try to read a decent recap of Twilight - I urge ANYONE to try this - and see how little they actually have in common.

The mythologies are completely different, as is the approach to them, with Generation Dead being considerably tongue-in-cheek with its world-building and, at worst, describable as "bland" (I personally liked it, but that's a matter of personal taste), whereas Twilight tries to shoot for Epic Serious Business but just ends up with Completely Ridiculous instead. Or, to put it more succintly: the zombies of Generation Dead do not sparkle. They also actually bother to resemble zombies (moving more slowly, not healing, etc.), as imagined by an author wanting to explore themes of discrimination... unlike the vampires of Twilight, which are more like an infection-created Mary Sue incubus/succubus deal than an actual vampire, as imagined by what feels like a horny 13-year-old girl on an acid trip. The fantasy world of GD is fairly cohesive, and whether you like it or not, at least makes sense, even if it doesn't bother to go into much detail (which is probably reserved for potential sequels). The world of Twilight, conversely, makes less and less sense the more you force your brain to contemplate it.

The themes of GD are also completely different - discrimination and bigotry, disability, peer pressure, growing up, grief and loss, and child neglect being just a handful of ones hinted at in the book. Twilight's themes are arguably, "sex sex sex sex sex just not before marriage and oh, by the way, don't mind if your boyfriend stalks you, that just means he loves ya! And by the way as a woman, you should like, totally want to just get married and pop out of a kid or two, not go to like, college or anything". I'm sure someone somewhere has claimed "growing up" as a theme in Twilight, but considering Bella Swan never really does - nor does Edward Cullen - I'm inclined to disagree.

Additionally, having read a little of both authors' works? Daniel Waters is hardly perfect (Jim Butcher and Eoin Colfer and Diana Wynne Jones all write far better, just to name a few)... but he is easily ten times the writer that Stephenie Meyer is, and at least ten times as (intentionally) funny, too. My only complaint about HIS first novel is that while the pacing didn't bother me as a general rule, the ending is far too abrupt. Twilight I had the opposite problem: the pacing was horrifically all over the place, and it couldn't have possibly ended soon ENOUGH.

Oh, I'm not saying you have to love and adore the book. Far from it; teen fiction just isn't for everyone, especially stuff that is mostly character-driven drama (in contrast to say, the Uglies series which has a lot of sci-fi action-adventure for instance). Apparently it just didn't keep your interest.

Suffice it to say though that I think you're bloody lazy in this "comparison", and possibly have a.) never read Twilight or even so much as a full recap of Twilight, b.) read Generation Dead beyond an extremely rough summary, or c.) both "a" and "b". The two books share very, very little in common... and that which they DO share in common isn't really all that impressively strange. "Oh my goodness! A love triangle! A girl in love with an undead guy! Teen drama! Surely before Twilight, nobody had done any of those!" Really? Seriously? THAT is all you've got?


message 3: by Joe (last edited Mar 07, 2009 11:40AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Joe Runa27 wrote: ""Generation Dead is Twilight, but with zombies instead of vampires. And it's just as terrible. "

Spoiler alert for those who haven't read it. You were warned.

Wrong on both counts. The characters..."

It seems you read the first sentence of my review, got pissed off, and didn't read the rest.

First of all, I'm not "bloody lazy" - I'm a young adult librarian and I read a ton of YA books; I'm entitled to disliking them. I've read Twilight, and I personally see a ton of overlap in both stories (clearly I wouldn't have used the comparison if I didn't think it fit). Furthermore, I've read Generation Dead and despised it as much as Twilight. The writing in both is dull and flat, and the characters are annoyingly one-sided.

Generation Dead, to me, seems to be a case of an editor saying to a writer, "Gee, young adults really seem to like supernatural love triangles. Why don't you have a go with it... maybe with zombies."

Quite frankly, the themes you insist are addressed in Generation Dead are also prevalent in Twilight. Bella, for all intents and purposes, is a neglected child - forced to live with a father who doesn't know how to act around her and abandoned by a mother whose love life is far more important than being a parent to her daughter. Bigotry/discrimination? Yep, that too. The Cullens are forced to live in the shadows - with the exception of those who can curb their cravings and function around people who smell good - and only Bella is able to break down that self-exiled wall (albeit in stupid and obvious ways). You could even argue that the bad blood between the werewolves and vampires is an example of bigotry.

I also disagree with you that Generation Dead doesn't shoot for "Epic Serious Business" - it's precisely the fumbling of this that I address in the penultimate paragraph of the review. Furthermore, if there had been plot developments, I would have been okay with the book. You insist these plot developments exist. I would like to know where, because, aside from getting cooperative teens together at the institution to talk about the dead, I saw none whatsoever.

Meyer's re-imagining of vampire folklore, while annoying, isn't the reason the book is so bad. Her stilted and dry writing is. If I were concerned about mythologies being properly employed, then films like 28 Days Later... (fast zombies!) would annoy me. The difference between that film and Generation Dead, though, is pacing and storytelling.

I'd be interested in reading your review of Generation Dead. I notice it's the only book cataloged on your GoodReads, so it must be pretty important to you. Maybe you know - or are - the author, and that's why you've taken my review to heart and written such a hysterical response to it. (Seems other readers have felt the same way, though, so I'm not entirely alone. You should probably go attack their reviews, too.)

Annabelle I'd say the comparison to Twilight was a little below the belt.

Marisa Well... you that I always go by your reviews b/c your taste is impeccable, but I think I'm going to give this one a try for S+G. I'll let you know what I think.

Aimee well i like it and i love twilight

message 7: by Bianca (last edited Mar 28, 2010 10:47AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Bianca This is EXACTLY what I have been thinking. I'm currently readingGeneration Dead, and I just don't see why everyone's giving it 5 stars! It was not amazing. I dislike every one of te characters, especially Phoebe and Adam. Frisbee is just boring. Adam talks too much about his karate has "made him a better person". And I honestly don't care what Phoebe is listening to on her iPod.

You've made every single point that I've been thinking throughout the book.

message 8: by Kat (new)

Kat Alexander ...the mere fact that it has been aligned with Twilight and John Green means someone has to be wrong. And judging by the arguments going both ways, I'm siding with team "Twilight with Zombies".

Good to know it's not worth the read before my Twilight fangirl friend picks it up (breaking her all-vampire streak) and tells me to read it, the same way as House of Night...

Kennedy I can only agree with your review.

Clickety So is 28 Days Later a good zombie story or a bad zombie story - and why?

message 11: by Luana (new) - added it

Luana hater

Megan I'm reading the book now, and I just don't like it at all. Its... I don't even know. Some parts are alright. But still.

Sabrina Cook Uhm, did you even READ the book? Phoebe acknowledges she has a crush on Tommy. She realizes that she loves her best friend from forever Adam.

I've read both series, Twilight is enjoyable-great at describing the emotions of your first crush/love, but Generation Dead isn't Twilight. It isn't trying to be, and doesn't WANT to be.

Angela I've just started reading this after finding it for cheap in a discount bookstore. After reading your review, kind of wished I'd saved that £2.

message 15: by n. (new) - added it

n. why is everything compared to Twilight?

Angela n. wrote: "why is everything compared to Twilight?"

Didn't you know? Vampire (lore) literature didn't exist before Stephanie Meyer!

message 17: by Torie (new)

Torie ALWKJERLKAWJer you are hilarious, sir. I'm just curisou though--why did you decide to read this particular book? It looks like it's aimed at preteen girls (and possibly twitards)

message 18: by Joe (last edited Aug 11, 2011 04:33AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Joe Torie wrote: "ALWKJERLKAWJer you are hilarious, sir. I'm just curisou though--why did you decide to read this particular book? It looks like it's aimed at preteen girls (and possibly twitards)"

For one thing, Torie, I don't believe gender has anything to do with what people enjoy reading. That aside, I'm a young adult librarian. It's my job to read what's popular with that age group so I can talk to them about their responses to the literature (and recommend books based on what they like).

message 19: by Torie (new)

Torie Joe wrote: "Torie wrote: "ALWKJERLKAWJer you are hilarious, sir. I'm just curisou though--why did you decide to read this particular book? It looks like it's aimed at preteen girls (and possibly twitards)"


I simply meant that I think the general audience Waters had in mind for his book are preteen girls, rather than men, which is why I wondered why you chose this particular book about young paranormal romance to read. I wasn't slighting you for reading this book (hey, by all means,read Gossip Girl and the like! I'm all for breaking gender binaries), but was merely curious why you chose this out of everything else out there--especially when the synopsis includes "Phoebe Kendall is just your typical goth girl with a crush."

message 20: by Joe (new) - rated it 1 star

Joe Of course that's who Waters had in mind as a target audience. Though you state you're not hung up on gender, this is now the second time you've brought it up ("...Waters had in mind of this book are preteen girls, rather than men").

I thought I made myself clear when I said I was a young adult librarian. For the teens who like Twilight, Dead Beautiful and its ilk, how can I recommend read-alikes if I don't read them myself and have a knowledge of plot points, etc? I can't do my job effectively if I don't read as much as possible out there - regardless of whether I think I'll like it or not.

message 21: by Torie (new)

Torie I know, I got that, I'm just explaining what I meant. And I just brought the whole gender thing up again to clarify my previous statement.

Miranda For the record, I'm a goth girl, I write poetry, (I too think daniels poetry wasn't that good) and I found this book to be nothing like twilight.
I read this book right after I read twilight, as someone else pointed out, Tommy is nothing like Edward, and Adam is friends with Tommy, not wanting to rip him limb from limb.
Another thing, about the bands, Daniel waters made them up! He just wanted scary band names. Which, trust me, those names wouldn't be rare in that kind of music.

message 23: by Joe (last edited Aug 27, 2011 09:05AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Joe Miranda wrote: "For the record, I'm a goth girl, I write poetry, (I too think daniels poetry wasn't that good) and I found this book to be nothing like twilight.
I read this book right after I read twilight, as s..."

The bands are real, Miranda. Do you think I would just assume the bands were real and hope no one noticed if I was wrong? This Mortal Coil was around in the 80s. Research!

message 24: by Sara (new)

Sara abu hey what are the books that you like to read?

Elizabeth Joe, I loved your review and wished I had stumbled across it before my teen reading group selected this turd. Your assessments are so on the money. My not so rhetorical question continues to be: are we now dealing with an influx of bad authors or is the machine which we call the publishing industry intentionally dumbing down what's on the shelves? I find the commonality between what's highlighted on the shelves of B&N, and the like, more than a little disturbing. Anyway, great review!

Jamie (The Title Page) So I absolutely agree with your entire review of this book, but I don't think Waters is a bad author. You should read Break My Heart 1,000 Times. It's a new one, so he's grown a lot as an author. I'm incredibly glad I read that one before I read Generation Dead because I never would have picked up another one of his novels after reading this crap. He's gotten better tho, at writing.

message 27: by Emma (new) - rated it 1 star

Emma I completely agree. As much as I appreciate how much hard work and effort goes into writing a book, even one like this, I'd rather throw this one out the window then leave it on my bookshelf.

Chloe Osgood Wait a second. I only have one thing to say mainly and that in your reply to reb27 or the name close to that you said that Bella's mom cared more about her love life then her daughter when that isn't true. Bella chose to go live with her dad. Her mom actually wanted her to stay with her. Bella decided to go with her dad. She wasn't forced to go with her dad. Her mom asked a lot for Bella to go with her. Other than that I mean I don't agree but I won't argue. You do have some valid points, just not enough for me to think the same.

message 29: by Ananya (new)

Ananya Ghosh This review gave one good thing to my knowledge. Because I can see how good you are at analysing stupid young adult shit, I'm kinda glad you don't think John Green is a writer of that category.

message 30: by Lila (new)

Lila I have read the book yes, but this review xD

message 31: by Shannon (new) - added it

Shannon @Miranda
If you were a goth girl, shouldn't you know that those band exist? Even if they aren't strictly goth rock (This Mortal Coil are gothic dream pop and The Bronx Casket Co. are gothic metal, which isn't a goth genre), if you'd done enough research you would have came across them some time or another.

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