Don’t judge a book by its cover. We know that, right? Well, whether you think the cover, as presented above, is awesome, or totally stupid, you should know that it doesn’t have anything to do with the story. Not that I can tell, anyway. We’ll come back to that.
Dead (a lot), by Howard Odentz is a young adult zombie apocalypse novel. Thanks to television hits like The Walking Dead and movies like World War Z and the plethora of adult zombie novels that are out there, it makes sense that there would be zombie books for younger readers.
A strange Necropoxy virus has struck (the country? the world?) and turned the majority of the people into what our protagonists refer to as “poxers” — essentially walking dead who are looking to feed on living flesh. Teenage twins Tripp and Trina figure that since they have survived the virus, their parents must have, too, so they decide to head to their lake house to find them. Along the way the meet a few other survivors. Tripp and Trina have to think on their feet and decide if the others are friends or foes in the new world order. Their band of survivors grows to include an autistic youth and a wheelchair-bound college-aged man.
The group discovers that the ‘poxers’ cannot be killed with bullets, but they will self-destruct with a small explosion when lit on fire. But if a poxer manages to get ahold of a survivor it would mean death, or at least a conversion to becoming a poxer.
The story moves along fairly quickly and the ending comes as a bit of a surprise (in a good way) and leads us to expect a sequel. And being geared toward young adults, there is, of course, the obligatory romance. Can a teenage boy question whether or not a girl likes him when he’s busy protecting everyone from zombies? Of course he can.
One thing that the book does, which reminds the reader just how immature these characters are, is treat differences with pity and jokes and disdain. While author Odentz tries to teach the younger reader a lesson with some of this, our hero, Tripp, comes across not as someone who is learning or growing, but someone who just doesn’t ‘get it.’ This part of the book was disappointing.
I would also have to admit to not liking the occult portion of the book. **WARNING — SPOILERS AHEAD** When Tripp and the band of survivors capture a couple of soldiers who were on patrol, they scare the soldiers into telling where Tripp’s parents are being held. They scare the soldiers by making them believe that Tripp and friends are devil worshippers and will bring Satan’s wrath down upon them. What gives them the idea to pretend to be devil worshippers? The fact that there are loads of books and materials on the subject in the home because it’s something that the family is in to. I think the intent here was to be funny (and to reveal some important information), but it suggests to young readers that the occult can be fun and useful. I don’t think a book like this needs any sort of religion, dark or otherwise, and I believe that Trina could have gotten the information quicker and easier on her own (given how the author portrays her). This moment really wasn’t necessary.
Back to the cover… I suspect this is supposed to represent a ‘poxer’ but I read nothing about the poxer/dead having stitches ala Frankenstein’s Monster. And if this isn’t the cover artists representation of a poxer, then it’s a doll (which is what it looks like), and again, such an item is not part of the story.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad read, and the mystery of the story, which didn’t really develop until the last third of the book, was interesting enough that I’d like to read more.
Looking for a good book? Dead (a Lot) is a zombie novel for young teens interested in the genre and should keep the average reader interested in the story, without grossing them out too much.
I received this book free, in electronic format, from the publisher through Netgalley for an honest review.
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Dead (a Lot)
author: Howard Odentz
publisher: Bell Bridge Books
paperback, 272 pages