|Here's a blurry iPhone picture of my iPad with the book on it...|
I received an ARC of the third book in the Living Dead Love Story series, Zombies Don't Surrender, from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers but hadn't read the first two books. You know how I am about series, or you should, but thankfully, the publisher was super nice and sent me the first two books as well. I blew through Zombies Don't Cry ninja fast. It's a fun story, definitely YA, but not sickeningly so (there is mention of panties, and some language).
I tend to steer clear of the YA genre because a lot of the time I feel like the authors are pandering to what they feel parents want their kids to read and not what the kids actually want to read. There is a line between "adult" material and "teen" material that is pretty blurry, but the experiences I've had with YA over the last few years have been way too squeaky clean. I'm not asking for graphic sex, or even any sex, but an understanding of what kids are thinking and the experiences they're having everyday is essential when writing from the POV of a 17 year old. I felt that Rusty Fischer was able to capture that teenage mindset really well, and all without a single mention of teen pregnancy!
If you don't know how much I love zombies by now, then you totally don't know me at all. Really. I have a serious thing for the undead. Zombies Don't Cry starts off at the end (or near end) of the story and then backtracks. This works really well in that you don't know which of her two potential love interests Maddy digs up from his grave until the very end of the book (probably one of the best pieces of literary misdirection I've ever read), and it keeps your interest because you're trying to piece together what you know of the end along every step in the journey.
A lot of the book centers around third period Home Ec class… now, I went to high school in Florida not all that crazy long ago, and Home Economics was not an available course. Is Home Ec still a thing? Anywho, it is useful and fits with the story. Students have been going missing from this one class since the beginning of the year, and it's only October. Law enforcement doesn't seem to care; all the deaths have been ruled accidental (by Maddy's dad, the coroner, no less), what's a missing brain here and there? No biggie. So this girl, Maddy, and her best friend, Hazel (who's totally evil btw, and Maddy just doesn't seem to get it. From our first encounter with Hazel she just comes across, to me anyway, as totally toxic) are in class, trying to deal with the dwindling class attendance and creepy bullies (who turn out to be bad zombies, aka Zerkers) that just wreck their days. Then things start to get weird (as if they weren't weird enough when a good chunk of the kids from one class just up and died) and Maddy meets a super hot guy, gets asked out, breaks all of her dad's house rules, and dies. Yup, break your father's rules and die. More kids need to learn that lesson, lol.
So once Maddy becomes a zombie, she has to go meet the "elders" and be sworn in or whatever, and it's all very strange. The elders and their zombie cops are the one part of the book that wasn't totally clear to me. Let's run this down.
In this z-verse, there are:
1. "Normals" aka Humans
2. "Good" zombies, the ones like Maddy who are made naturally and who subsist off of non-human brains.
3."Zerkers" bad bad zombies who are bitten and go crazy and like to kill kill kill.
4. Elders, who I guess are really old good zombies and are described as being icky and gross and made me picture stereotypical mafia bosses… only more skeletal.
5. "Sentinels," these guys are the zombie cops. I think.
Now this is all great! Have a zerker uprising in your small Florida town? Call in the Sentinels! Wrong. You don't call the Sentinels. You handle the uprising yourself and then run and hide from the Sentinels. Really. I'm hoping this whole Elders/Zombies/Sentinel dynamic is explored further in the next books because the Elders seem pretty cool. They put out a book called The Guide to the Proper Care and Feeding of Zombies (now in its 24th edition!), so how bad and uncaring can they really be?
Other than my confusion about the perfect solution to the zerker problem, this was a super fun read. It's got loads of angst (seriously, the main character is not only in high school and having boy trouble, but she freakin' dies in the beginning of the book) but is balanced out with plenty of humor and witty repartee and everything fun and awesome I look for in a good book. I highly recommend Zombies Don't Cry, you won't be disappointed, unless you're not looking for a funny zombie romance. Then you will be sadly disappointed. I'm now off to read book two, Zombies Don't Forgive.