The zombie apocalypse begins on a Venturer Scout camping trip in the hills outside of Los Angeles when Cassie’s would-be boyfriend, Mark, reanimates after an unfortunate paintball accident.
It soon becomes appallingly clear that Mark is just the first in a sudden, worldwide phenomenon. In very short order, Cassie and five other camping-trip refugees find themselves in a van headed across the country in hopes of finding the twin sister of one of her companions alive in New York City. Heartbreak, humor, a very large number of crushed skulls and even romance ensue. Titchenell avoids trying to explain the zombies, just plunging her protagonists into a landscape teeming with shambling corpses and littered with abandoned cars. As with any good road trip, the pleasure in this book resides mostly in the evolving relationships among the teens, who must progress from fractious individualism to solidarity in order to survive. For all its formulaic nature, this progress is accomplished with beautiful emotional honesty. The author provides some moments of grace amid the horror: A handful of survivors welcome the teens at the Tulsa Zoo; the kids have an epic movie night at Graceland. Cassie’s first-person “confessions” are smartly paced and voiced, and they end on just the right note.
Readers who don’t mind a little brain spatter on the windshield will be happy they took this particular trip. (Horror. 12-16)