Wilson discovers that being undead is not the same as never having died, in this contemporary version of "The Monkey’s Paw" from a middle-schooler’s perspective.
Wilson thinks he knows how to put his broken family right, months after his beloved older brother died of an asthma attack in the family’s bathroom. His invented indoor, nighttime game, Zombie Tag, by luck allows him to find a zombie resurrection bell secreted in his best friend’s house. But the Graham who comes back from the dead, along with everyone else buried in the local cemetery, is vacant, dull and polite, only capable of emotionally experiencing anger and fear. Wilson’s first-person narrative hints matter-of-factly at a world understood to be extraordinary: Wilson’s father is engaged in time-based travel work in an unnamed business; friends’ fathers are said to have seen unicorns and yetis; a decades-old incident involving zombies is common knowledge; and most amusingly and true to form: Media attention on the local appearance of zombies is frenzied and then disappears entirely. Despite these intriguing elements, gaps and coincidences in the plot seem abundant, and the story isn’t as fleshed out as readers might hope.
Heartbreaking at times and odd at others; an intriguing but only partly successful variation on the zombie theme with a look at mortality and the process of grieving. (Paranormal fiction. 10-13)