Generation Dead is the debut novel by author Daniel Waters. This is the first zombie book I've read and I wasn't really sure if I would enjoy it. I love the supernatural/paranormal romance genre and I have read books featuring almost every supernatural topic out there... except zombies! My skepticism stems from images of old zombie movies with the dead lumbering around with rotting flesh! Yuck! So I was pleasantly surprised that the zombies featured in this book did not fit the above description!!
Summary from Amazon:
"Phoebe is just your typical goth girl with a crush. He's strong and silent.and dead.
All over the country, a strange phenomenon is happening. Some teenagers who die aren't staying dead. They are coming back to life, but they are no longer the same-they stutter, and their reactions to everything are slower. Termed "living impaired" or "differently biotic," they are doing their best to fit into a society that doesn't want them.
Fitting in is hard enough when you don't have the look or attitude, but when almost everyone else is alive and you're not, it's close to impossible. The kids at Oakvale High don't want to take classes or eat in the cafeteria next to someone who isn't breathing. And there are no laws that exist to protect the differently biotic from the people who want them to disappear-for good.
With her pale skin and Goth wardrobe, Phoebe has never run with the popular crowd. But no one can believe it when she falls for Tommy Williams, the leader of the dead kids. Not her best friend, Margi, whose fear of the differently biotic is deeply rooted in guilt over the past. And especially not her neighbor, Adam, the star of the football team. Adam has just realized his feelings for Phoebe run much deeper than just friendship. He would do anything for her, but what if protecting Tommy is the one thing that would make her happy?"
I am happy to say that there were no horror movie zombies in this book! The zombies, or differently biotic, were like typical teenagers in many ways. They all had differing levels of abilities, individual personalities, some were beautiful, some were not and they all struggled to fit into the world around them. Unfortunately... they struggle to fit in because they are DEAD!
I felt that the major theme throughout the book was how society deals with differences. In the story, the differently biotic are fighting for their rights as citizens (these were lost upon their actual death). There are two sides in this fight - those that do not feel that the differently biotic should have any rights or even exist and those that are sympathetic to their cause. Is this an accurate representation of how society would react to the sudden rising of dead teenagers? I seriously doubt it, but I believe that it does shine a light on how our society deals with the differences among us and the prejudices that result from these differences.
The characters in the story fit into the "social mold" prevalent in high school. There are the jocks, the goths, the kids that feel invisible, the snobby cheerleaders, the bullies, and of course, the outcasts (zombies). The main characters in the story are interesting. Phoebe (goth chick) is in conflict throughout the book. She is dealing with her conflicting emotions over her attraction to Tommy (zombie). She is a very likable character, who is smart, open-minded, and fair. She doesn't really care about what others think of her and she doesn't even see her own beauty. Adam is the popular star football player at school. However, he goes through a transformation in the book. He is Phoebe's neighbor and secret best friend (imagine what the other popular kids at school would think!). He begins to realize that he isn't like the rest of his "so-called" friends. He harbors strong feelings for Phoebe that extend beyond friendship, but she is oblivious to this. He is fiercely protective of her and her feelings for Tommy do not make things easy for him! Since zombies are typically not able to display much emotion, it is hard to really get a grasp on Tommy's (leader of the zombies) real feelings/motives. Does he want to be with Phoebe because he likes her or does he want to be with her because she is alive? The villains in the book (Pete, TC, and Stavis) are pure hatred! To me, they are the representation of the close-minded prejudice and violence found in any rights movement. They were completely blinded by their differences and lashed out with violence and hate. All of these dynamics make the story interesting and give it depth.
The story unfolded at a good pace. The middle of the story was a little slow, but the ending more than made up for it! The turn of events at the end took me by surprise! I don't want to say too much because I don't want to spoil it, but I will say that it made me want to run out and get the second book in this series, Kiss of Life, that released earlier this year. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to supernatural genre lovers (8th grade and up)!
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