Monday, March 18, 2013

Undead ~ Kristy McKay review

Chicken House
September 1, 2012
272 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

I seem to have fantastic luck with books published by Chicken House (and I have a review of another coming soon). From Rachel Ward's Numbers series to Lucy Christopher's Stolen and now Kristy McKay's Undead they've been quite different titles, but ones I've enjoyed immensely.

In Undead, McKay's debut, Bobby is the British-then American-now British again (even she's trying to fully figure it out) new girl with enough to stress about already when her school ski trip goes all kinds of wrong.

The braindead, possible zombified kind of wrong.

The day of the ski trip, when the bus comes to a stop at a roadside restaurant, everyone gets off and heads in for lunch. Everyone, that is, except Bobby, the new girl, who stays behind with rebel-without-a-clue Smitty.

Then hours pass. Snow piles up. Sun goes down. Bobby and Smitty start to flirt. Start to stress. Till finally they see the other kids stumbling back.

But they've changed. And not in a good way. Straight up, they're zombies. So the wheels on the bus better go round and round freakin' fast, because that's the only thing keeping Bobby and Smitty from becoming their classmates' next meal. It's kill or be killed in these hunger games, heads are gonna roll, and homework is most definitely gonna be late.

It'll be up to their band of not so merry misfits to do all that they can to survive this possible-zombie possible-apocalypse. And to not want to kill each other along the way.

Undead is fantastically funny. There's humor in places that I didn't quite expect to bring the funny. Yet, there's also some quite dark moments and more than a few gross ones.

It is a Young Adult book and doesn't stray past that age range/maturity in content but it's not campy or corny, either. There's a great balance of the dark humor the characters use to bring levity to the situation they find themselves in and the heaviness of that situation. (The book dose usually end up a bit more on the lighter side.)

The setting plays into the story and how it develops incredibly well. Really anywhere else, the story wouldn't have worked. The setting not only provides, well, setting in physical locations that make parts of the story possible, it's also key in who Bobby's character is and where she is mentally, emotionally is in Undead and a few smaller things. Usually we thing of settings in dystopian novels effecting characters' lives and the world around them, I loved seeing it here. It's definitely one of the best uses of
setting I've seen -- well, read.

The combination of characters here can seem a bit archetypal (in that you can assign them each a type and they're types quite often present in YA novels. . . and/or horror movies). How they interact with each other and the difference traits in each character that the others seemed to bring out kept them unique.

Bobby may be one of my favorite new-to-the-school girls, too. True Undead isn't set in a school so that makes her situation different right off the bat, but she's not your typical new girl. She wasn't the social butterfly -- or the painfully shy wallflower. She seemed the most well adjusted, not quite well adjusted yet new girl. It was a refreshing change from a lot of novels where new kids to school seem to be one extreme or the other.

The ending had more than one nice (maybe not so nice?) surprise and I'm really exited for the US release of Unfed, the sequel.

Rating: 9/10

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