Published by Candlewick on 9/25/12
Genres: YA Horror, Zombie Fiction
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Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an “Inward Trek.” As if that weren’t bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of “infects” shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate “Zombie Rules” almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back.
Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a delight to read—whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten—and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.
Interest in Book
Duh. It’s a zombie book! And then I opened it and read the dedication. SO MUCH WIN. I knew immediately I would enjoy the author’s voice. It turned out to be exactly what I expected: quirky, dangerous, campy, highly entertaining and just plain fun. It’s not your typical serious zombie post-apocalyptic book, but it definitely has some gory moments as a band of teenagers try to figure out just what the tittlepop is happening in their little slice of America. Of course, underneath all the silly fun are some heavy themes, mainly corporate monsters and the food industry, which are one in the same, I suppose.
Nick, aka Nero, is a normal teenager living with his perceived deadbeat of a father, The Dude, and his younger sister, Amanda, who has Asperger Syndrome. Nick works for a major chicken production plant and after a serious(?) incident, he ends up at the “Inward Trek” camp for juvenile delinquents. I think the incident was silly, but it connects the plot later on so I guess it gets a pass. On the way to camp, Nick notices odd occurrences but writes it off strange human behavior. Once at camp, the zombie infestation lands right outside their tents, literally. From there on out, lots of chaos, death, funny one-liners and tough chicks grace the pages as Nick and gang try to save humanity.
The zombie encounters were wicked fun and a tad gory. The zombies appeared to have some sort of rational grasp on reality, as they were able to use strategy a time or two. I absolutely love the groups’ descriptions of the zombies, as camp counselors, camp mates, joggers and random people become flesh-eating hellions. The source of infection turns out to be connected in a big way to Nick, and his stance at the end of the book was unexpected.
Nick was the protagonist and as always, it’s nice to read from a male’s perspective. I really enjoyed the flashbacks where we learn more about his family. He also has a constant back and forth with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in his head that was ridiculously fun. however, Nick stood out the least. The author brought life to the supporting characters in a big way because they are all memorable. Every single one of the delinquents that Nick is unfortunately stuck with during this bizarre adventure had serious personality. When the zombie outbreak finally reached the group of misfits, I was laughing hardcore at their reactions. Idle and Billy start dropping beats, yo! And they use yo. Love!
I adored little sis Amanda. I’ve been around Asperger kids, and have a few friends whose children have been diagnosed. I think the author really captured the personality characteristics of this disorder. The author used a lot of question marks when Amanda was speaking, in between her words, to evoke emotions or maybe her constant questioning and wondering? I’m not sure. It was hella annoying at first, but then I realized it was only with Amanda and it made more sense.
I really wish I could post some quotes, as this book is highly quotable. This was my first book by the author and I really enjoyed his style, commentary and phrasing. I loved the use of Zombrules throughout the book, which were just downright hysterical. My favorite spoke of Ztockholm Syndrome. Scary shit, people. The chapter titles were also really creative, as well as the Fresh Bukket Menu and the Incident Reports. The blood splatter at the beginning of each chapter gets bigger and bigger, too. All of this supplementary material and creativity really brought the story to life. Unfortunately, the ending fell flat for me, but it really didn’t detract from my enjoyment throughout the book.
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