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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Zombie


Jeremy Barker, a Catholic high school freshman, lives by a code that he calls the “Zombie Survival Code.”  As he sees it, “…rules are meant to be broken, but codes are made to be followed.”  Jeremy’s particular code is a product of his fascination with zombie movies (the guy is an expert on the genre) and he figures that if the code is good enough to ensure his survival of a zombie apocalypse, it will probably get him through high school.

Because he doesn’t readily fit in to any of the schools core groups, Jeremy has few friends.  But when he becomes the target of a group of jocks determined to destroy him, his zombie code serves him well – making it possible for him to defend himself by becoming the aggressor.  Unfortunately for Jeremy, however, not all the zombies in his world attend his high school; some are members of his immediate family.

His mother, a barely functioning pill addict, has married the man for whom she left his father.  His older brother, also a doper, lives on the other side of town and barely manages to function in the real world.  To top things off, Jeremy’s ex-Marine father is starting to scare him by disappearing night after night without explanation.  When Jeremy, snooping in his father’s office closet, turns up what appears to be a homemade video showing a naked man restrained on a bed and being prepared for some kind of ritualistic surgery, things really get strange.  Zombies, it seems, are everywhere.

Zombie is the most unusual coming-of-age novel I have read in a long, long time.  Yes, it does include all of the basic elements one has come to expect in such stories: school bullies, first loves, personal insecurities, troubles at home, kind-hearted mentors, etc.  And, too, Jeremy Barker is a bright, likeable kid with his own quirky way of looking at the world, so getting to know him is fun.  But there is also a very dark side to Zombie, particularly the book’s dramatic, over-the-top ending, that changes its entire nature.  (Note: Because of the language used and its graphic violence, Zombie is probably not appropriate reading for younger teens – even though they would probably love it.)

When he is faced with unimaginable situations and choices, the Zombie Code serves Jeremy well even though he is living through the freshman year from hell.  He knows that zombies cannot be confronted without having the right weapons, an exit strategy, a willingness to do whatever it takes to survive, and a talent for forgetting the past.  Jeremy’s big problem is that there are zombies all around him – even if they are not flesh-eaters – and they keep turning up where he least expects to find them.

Remember…never look a zombie in the eye.  (Zombie Survival Code #1)

(Review Copy provided by Publisher)
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