This has been a pretty popular book amongst my male students at the high school, and Jonathan Maberry is an acquaintance, so I figured it was time I give it a read. It’s a very enjoyable horror/adventure book with a good message about family, the value of life, and having empathy toward others.
I’m not much for plot summary, and there’s plenty of other reviews of this book where you can get that. What I most liked about this book was that the zombies weren’t the main focus, the people are. If you can imagine a Romero movie as a young adult novel, it would be pretty much like this. Well, except there’s a lot of moving around in open spaces, not really Romero’s forte.
As an author and teacher, this book would be a good one to use in a class on YA writing. Maberry uses some very nice tricks and techniques in situations where the book could stray beyond some YA boundaries, keeping the book suited for it’s target age range. The most notable of these is keeping the language PG-13 while letting us know exactly what people are saying without using the words.
It isn’t a perfect book. I kept wondering if a kid Benny’s age would use our current idioms and slang in a post-zombie-apocalypse world without MTV to perpetuate those phrases. Also, I guessed pretty much exactly step-by-step how the final showdown would go long before I got to those chapters, and I knew what the epilogue would be about. Would the younger target audience guess that? Hard to say for sure, but based on the popularity of the books in this series, at least at my school, I’m gonna say no.
Hardened gore-loving zombie fans might be disappointed in this, but it’s a very good book for the teen audience.
One thing I have to add is that I listened to the audio for this and really wish I’d read the book myself. The narrator just wasn’t to my taste, adding odd emphases and pauses that didn’t seem to fit, and making too many statements sound like questions.