Author: Kirsty McKay
Release Date: September 1st, 2012
Publisher: Chicken House, Recorded Books
Series: Undead #1
Source: Recorded Books, LibraryThing
Genre(s): Fiction, Horror, YA Fiction, Zombies, Audiobook
Review Spoilers: High
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I love zombies. I loved them before they were cool and I will ride this current pop culture zombie craze until the very end. So when I saw that Undead was available for review by some lucky few on LibraryThing of course I had to check it out. I got lucky and got this book through their First Reads program. It wasn’t the print book, though. I got the audiobook and by some random chance it came the day before I left to drive home from school in Arizona to Upstate New York.
Absolutely perfect timing!
So I listened to Undead on the way up for the holidays and it was a lot of fun. I can’t say it’s the best YA book out there or even at the top of the list of awesome young adult zombie books I keep intending to write up. But it was definitely worth a look. Don’t let the corny tagline on the cover turn you off on it just yet.
The book takes place in Scotland where a girl, Bobby, is on a school trip with her new classmates just weeks after moving back to the UK from America where he father recently passed away from cancer. There isn’t a whole lot of build up to the end of the world. Bobby is on the bus avoiding talking to anyone because all the popular kids hate her for some reason. The only other person to remain behind is Smitty, a rebel without a cause, who was ordered to stay behind while everyone else went into a roadside cafe for lunch. Together the two misfits have a bit of a witty back and forth before all hell breaks loose. They team up with a few other survivors from their class who some how managed to avoid turning into the undead – all of whom fit neatly into a very obvious high school/secondary school stereotype – and try to survive zombies, snow storms, and shadowy individuals who may have caused everything to begin with. As they go along they pick up a few others and Bobby discovers that what’s going on may have much more of a personal connection for her than she could have ever even begun to imagine.
It’s an action heavy story and there isn’t a whole lot of explanation about the disease and what not. They have the ‘do we call them zombies?’ discussion that everyone seems to have these days in zombie media (yes, just call them zombies!) but that’s about it. Everything is pretty cut and dry in that regard. Tying in Bobby’s whole backstory with what was going on seemed like a bit of a stretch but it seems like an on going YA trend is for characters’ parents to be evil in some way or another. I do give them credit for not shying away from killing kids, though. And I’m not just talking about the fourteen year old kids on this trip. That’s something that zombie books still tend to do more often than not which isn’t entirely realistic. (The Walking Dead on the other hand…)
Over all, it’s a solid zombie book. It doesn’t bring anything new to the genre – though I do appreciate Carrot Man even if the rest of the means of infection were kind of lame – but it’s still a fun read. The audiobook version is very good and the narrator is very believable as a British girl having been raised in the US returning to her home country. The dialogue is believable, the writing easy to follow, and the story really isn’t bad at all. Future books seem poised to get a bit less believable and less about the characters themselves (this one was very character centered which I liked) and more about the corporate conspiracy behind everything so.
We’ll see how that goes.
If you’re going to pick up Undead I recommend getting it in the audiobook format. The narrator really adds a lot to the book and ahving the story told to you insead of having to read it helps a lot. I think that if I had started to read this book I probably wouldn’t have finished it. But having it on disk made me feel far more compelled to finish it and I really did enjoy it (until the very end, I guess). Either way, if you’re looking for a solid YA zombie book for a kid whose into the genre, this one is definitely worth checking out if only because it’s certainly a story a middle grade or young adult reader would appreciate.