Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Review of Zombie Blondes by Brian James
Published: June 2008
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
From the moment Hannah Sanders arrived in town, she felt there was something wrong.
A lot of houses were for sale, and the town seemed infected by an unearthly quiet. And then, on Hannah’s first day of classes, she ran into a group of cheerleaders—the most popular girls in school.
The odd thing was that they were nearly identical in appearance: blonde, beautiful, and deathly pale.
But Hannah wants desperately to fit in—regardless of what her friend Lukas is telling her: if she doesn’t watch her back, she’s going to be blonde and popular and dead—just like all the other zombies in this town. . . .
Come on! What is up with YA authors wimping out on the true strength of Zombies? What has happened to the good old zombies needing to feed? The constant craving they have to devour human flesh? The fact that zombies are supposed to be the risen dead?!!
The cover should have been my first warning that this book was not going to go the logical and traditional route of zombies. Don't get me wrong, I think the cover is brilliantly done and definitely drew me in, but what you see on the cover is the exact way the zombies look. No rotting flesh, no dirt and blood covered skin. Just pretty, blond girls.
So, I get that the author is trying to say something about society's need to follow the leader, especially in high school, but it just seemed over done. What non-popular kid in high school hasn't thought of or joked about the popular kids being zombies, or clones of each other? There was potential with the story, but James couldn't pull it off. Maybe it has to do with the fact that he has no idea how teenage girls think.
Hannah starts fairly likable. She's obviously had a rough time constantly moving around the country with her father, and she's like most teens, wanting to fit in, to be popular. That is where I see the similarities ending. Hannah is obsessed, which could have been humorous, if the novel had been going in that direction, and if Hannah hadn't been such a self-absorbed, selfish, and downright rude character. Despite being constantly snubbed by the popular blond girls (zombies) she keeps going back for more, complaining about not having friends, then being a complete b***h to the few students who do try to befriend her. She was stupid and frankly I wish she had died at the end (sorry for the spoiler, but I'm just to angry to not put it in!).
I'm going to skip all of the abusive friendship and romantic relationship stuff because I would simply rant about it forever.
The plot is left with huge dangling threads. There's an almost constant reminder (every single chapter mentions it at least once) that her father was once a police officer, but is now on the run, and yet at the end nothing. We never find out what he did. There's no closure to this story, just a big cop out by James, maybe he was hoping for a series. I sincerely hope not.
The actual writing style has it's downfalls as well. James has a habit of dropping the subjects of his sentences. This can work occasionally. Occasionally. Here are some examples I randomly pulled:
(p40) We take a few steps over the grass together before Diana tells me she's got to go the other way. Says good-bye but doesn't walk away.
(p58) He adjusts the tape that wraps around the remote to hold in the batteries. Taps it gently against the palm of his hand...
(p.82) I snatch my backpack up off the ground. Start to stomp up the driveway toward our dilapidated brown house with...
There's just so many I wonder if an editor even read through it. What scares me the most is that one of my 3rd grade students just read one of his children's books and I'd hate for her to think he utilized the same style and she though it was an example of good writing.
As sad as I am to say this. Skip it.