Thursday, January 10, 2013
Undead (Undead #1)
Chicken House, 2012
Description: Bobby doesn’t really know where she belongs. Born in England, she moved to the U.S. when she was nine for her mother’s job. Sadly, her father passed away from cancer and now her mother has moved them back to the UK. She’s a bit of an outsider at school and is bored on her class’s field trip to remote areas of Scotland for a skiing vacation. On their bus ride back home, Bobby refuses to go inside the little roadside café. She stays in the bus with Smitty, the school “rebel” and tries to while away the time. When the bus gets bumped by a car and the bus driver goes out to investigate and doesn’t come back they begin to worry. When Alice, the most stuck up girl in class, comes running aboard the bus demanding they baracade themselves in Bobby and Smitty think she’s lost it. She claims that their teacher tried to attack her and everyone else in the café has turned into zombies. Suddenly, they notice the eerie quiet of the area and see blood in the snow. They rescue their bus driver and he starts to get them away from the café when their teacher barrels out and tries to attack the bus. Stuck at a gas station up the road, they get some more help from Pete the albino nerd in their class who ran the minute he saw something weird was going on. Soon they put two and two together—the weird dude seeing “Carrot Man Veggie Juice” must have had something to do with it. As they start taking out zombies and making their way back to the café they begin to uncover clues that makes Pete’s paranoia that “the man” is behind the infection look not so crazy after all.
Opinion: Originally a British book by McKay who now lives in Boston, Undead is a unique entry in the zombie world of YA fiction. A lot of the first book actually takes place with the teens stuck in the school bus and having to fortify a harder than usual means of safety which also happens to be a possible means of escape too. The other scenes include the gas station, the café, and a castle they eventually take refuge in. Bobby is a resourceful girl, Smitty the “bad” boy who isn’t really all that bad (and has a wicked scene of humor), Alice is the stuck up girl that wouldn’t have given any of them the time of day, and Pete the poor nerd. It’s cute that the twist to the story that makes it different from other zombie novels is that no one wants to believe Pete’s conspiracy theory but as they begin to uncover clues (everyone who drank the Carrot Juice turned, there was a huge tree blocking their only exit out of town, and the hi-tech video surveillance in the office of the café suggests someone wanted to watch what went down, all culminate with the discovery that Bobby’s mom might be working for an evil corporation and Bobby and her friends might be the only ones to save the whole of Scotland from being infected. The pace of the book for the most part is a bit slow but that doesn’t mean it is boring. The ending has the classic Nightmare on Elm Street (“we’re all safe now . . . “) feel to it but is successful instead of being campy leaving room for readers to be blissfully ignorant of a horrible future for the teens or leaving readers hoping for more.