Monday, December 3, 2012
Zombie Queen of Newbery High
Zombie Queen of Newbury High
Plot Summary: Mia has flown under the radar her whole life in high school. It’s now her senior year and prom is coming up soon. She is shocked to find herself invited to the event by Rob, the hot football god of the school’s elite crowd. Her younger sister, Grace, who is the most popular girl in the sophomore class, thinks Mia has gone and disrupted the natural order of things so when Queen Bee Samantha breaks up with her boyfriend and sets her sights on Rob as her prom date Grace thinks the inevitable will happen and all will be right with the world. When Mia goes with her best friend, Candace, to pick up some pills to help with her hypochondriac nature and ailments, Mia is introduced to an old herbalist and Candace convinces her to buy a love potion and give it a try on Rob. Mia and Candace perform the spell in the middle of the school pep rally and she’s surprised to see that the spell works and it may have worked a little too well. Soon Rob only has eyes for her but so does everyone else it seems. Now every time she turns around people are flocking to her with gifts of candy, chips, and more. She’s even nominated for Prom Queen! How awesome is that? Turns out it is not so awesome when the new boy at school, Chase, who appears immune to Mia’s love potion, informs her that the old herbalist isn’t harmless. She is really a chaos demon and Mia is popular because the spell is actually turning the entire senior class (and some teachers) into zombies and Mia will be their Zombie Queen. Cool, right? Wrong—all those candy gifts are meant to fatten her up so when the teens reach Stage Four of the infection (full-on zombie mode) they can EAT their queen first. With Chase’s help and a semi-normal Candace (turns out all those homeopathic pills she takes have given her a bit of an immunity—or at least it’s slowly the process down), they attempt to reverse the spell before Mia becomes dinner on prom night.
Critical Evaluation: This is one of those fun, campy horror books. I can’t wait to read Ashby’s other humorous fantasy novels. Mia is a sympathetic character that a lot of teen readers can relate to. Who hasn’t wanted to try a love potion out on someone who broke their heart? Candace is a hilarious sidekick in all her hypochondriac glory (“My skin is saggy—it’s leprosy!”) and is hilarious when real death confronts her and she totally admits that she knows nothing is wrong with her. A lot of little details come together in the end with a hilarious climax—Mia, in order to save her classmates from zombie existence, has to confront her greatest fear (heights) and Grace totally accepts the threat of zombies when called to help (because that makes more sense logically to her than Mia suddenly becoming the most popular senior). Highly recommend this book to comedy and horror fans.
Reader's Annotation: Mia is sad at the thought of her popular boyfriend dumping her before prom. Using a love potion, she wins back his desire . . . along with the rest of the senior class. Unfortunately, the love spell wasn’t really a love spell. She’s turned her entire class into zombies and they plan on eating her during prom!
Author Information: Amanda Ashby was born in Australia and after spending the last sixteen years dividing her time between England and New Zealand, she’s finally moved back and now lives on the Sunshine Coast. When she’s not moving country, she likes to write books (okay, she also likes to eat chocolate, watch television and sit around doing not much, but let’s just keep that amongst ourselves, shall we?). She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two children. Her debut book, You Had Me at Halo was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award, and her first young adult book Zombie Queen of Newbury High was listed by the New York Public Library’s Stuff for the Teen Age 2010. Her latest release, Fairy Bad Day, has been selected by VOYA as one of their Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers 2012 and was a SCBWI Crystal Kite Award finalist for the Australia/NZ region (Ashby, n.d.).
Genre: Horror, Humor, Romance
Curriculum Ties: N/A
Booktalking Ideas: Read scenes of the hypochondriac Candace. Read a short passage of when all the seniors start giving Mia candy.
Reading Level/Interest Age: 13+
Challenge Issues: N/A
Challenge Defense: N/A
Reason for Inclusion: A hilarious take on zombies for those who don’t like horror. A fluffy read that is actually well-written. Would also recommend Ashby’s other titles for read-a-likes to this one.