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Friday, June 12, 2009

Book Review: Generation Dead

Title: Generation Dead
Series: Generation Dead Book 1
Author(s): Daniel Waters
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Publisher/Year: Hyperion/2008
-Webpage/Blog: Daniels Waters

Synopsis: Phoebe Kendall is just your typical Goth girl with a crush. He's strong and silent...and dead.
All over the country, a strange phenomenon is occurring. Some teenagers who die aren't staying dead. But when they come back to life, they are no longer the same. Feared and misunderstood, they are doing their best to blend into a society that doesn't want them.

The administration at Oakvale High attempts to be more welcoming of the "differently biotic." But the students don't want to take classes or eat in the cafeteria next to someone who isn't breathing. And there are no laws that exist to protect the "living impaired" from the people who want them to disappear--for good.

When Phoebe falls for Tommy Williams, the leader of the dead kids, no one can believe it; not her best friend, Margi, and especially not her neighbor, Adam, the star of the football team. Adam has feelings for Phoebe that run much deeper than just friendship; he would do anything for her. But what if protecting Tommy is the one thing that would make her happy?

Review: Just to be clear I received the UK edition of the book for review, so the cover looks like THIS not like THIS. Far as I know there aren't any differences between the two editions. It's also worth mentioning that this is the third young adult novel I've read with Zombies involved (after Stacey Jay's You Are So Undead To Me and Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which I still need to write up the review for that) and yet its still a different angle. I approve!

I think what the synopsis fails to mention is that the group of people who don't want the 'living impaired' (or 'differently biotic') kids at their school are extremely violent. I think anyone who had to read To Kill a Mockingbird in English class or had to sit through a 'sensitivity' meeting at their schools can understand what it must be like for Phoebe and her friends. A lot of what the teachers and advocates for the Differently Biotic (DB) were saying I remember hearing when my school first started to allow gay or lesbian couples to attend the Prom or Homecoming Dances together. Or after 9-11 when we had a mandatory school assembly to talk about the recent violence committed against the Muslim students in our school.

The story itself is a little drawn out I think and that makes it a little stilted to read at times. Its told in third person limited for the most part, though it seems to branch into third person omniscient at times too. For instance the section will be following Phoebe around, exploring her reactions and such and then suddenly, in the same section without breaks, cut to what Adam was thinking. It got a little confusing at those times.

I think that the world is well built--its pretty much the world we live in, but with DB's running around. Its not as 'cool' to be a goth and you won't be finding too many people calling each other 'dead-heads' (which was a term for druggies when I was in HS) and George Romero has been elevated in status, but otherwise its no different from my town.

The romance between Phoebe and Tommy is sweet--Phoebe doesn't completely understand her feelings towards Tommy, he interests her and at first I think a lot of that interest is tied up in her trying to come to terms with seeing one of her best friends come back as a DB. I think as she starts to see them as separate people and less like a horde of zombies, her interest turned more romantic. But like anything during the teen years she's confused--she has her best friend Adam who has suddenly developed into a mature version of the guy she pal'ed around with as kids, her best friend Margi, who is (at best) neutral about the DB's and freaked out by Colette's re-birth and then she has society at large saying its wrong, its immoral, its indecent and disgusting.

I mostly wanted to know more about what Margi has to feel so guilty about Colette's death--she opens up in starts and fits as Phoebe becomes more insistent that she talk to her. Pete, the biggest racist this side of anywhere (I can easily see him as White Supremicist in the South), has his own issues tied up with Phoebe and the DB's and a past relationship that he has pretty much raised to Sacred. He's a bully and a brute and jerk that's more violence then planning.

I look forward to reading the second book, Kiss of Life! And if you want more interactivity check out Tommy Williamson's Blog My So-Called Undeath, where 'Tommy' posts (in the book he has a blog as well, that he uses to reach out to other DB's across the nation to help them adjust to their new Undeath).