Connecticut suburbanites try to survive against an undead horde in this hilarious YA debut.
Thirteen-year-old Luke can’t stand showering, gym class or his older brother, Cody. He’s also short for his age, making him the prime target for a bully named Brian. But, except when it comes to homework, Luke is no delinquent—his mom, raising two boys alone, is a police officer. One day, while she’s on duty, there are news reports that people in nearby Hartford have gone crazy. Could it be from sniffing hallucinogenic bath salts, like Luke heard about in health class? Possibly, which keeps Mom at work for another shift. Later that night, zombies break into their home, and Luke and Cody escape to Mr. Crawford’s house. Their neighbor, a veteran of the first Iraq war, shoots at the flesh eaters, but when this tactic fails to hold back the horde, the brothers head through their besieged neighborhood and end up meeting Luke’s best friend, Travis, and his sister Michelle. From here, the foursome travel toward the center of town, meeting plenty of unlikely allies (and enemies) while trying to reunite with Mom. Authors Grasis and Duffy bring irresistible personality to the undying zombie genre. Luke’s daffy, self-deprecating narration is consistently amusing: “Even from this distance I could tell the [zombies] had a variety of bite marks, ripped skin, and blood all over them. That can’t be sanitary.” Early set pieces are equally flavorful, including a run-in with zombie cows and even a brawl against the undead elderly (dentures play a part). But Grasis and Duffy don’t revel too long in cartoonish mayhem; their survival tale eventually grows serious, and dramatic implications are explored: “I could see that underneath she was somebody’s grandmother. I was killing people—humans!” As readers see the boyish hero grow into a young man, the adventure’s second half more closely follows tales like The Walking Dead, in which a ragtag group slowly expands.
An excellent offbeat start to a gory new series.