In post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested Texas, Gabriella “Gutsy” Gomez discovers the truth about her town while a group of teens in California embark on a dangerous road trip.
Gutsy hasn’t been able to grieve her mother’s death. Like everyone who dies, Mama turned into a zombie, but unlike everyone, she literally returns from the grave—twice. Bisexual Mexican-American Gutsy and her friends discover Mama’s isn’t the only desecrated grave, leading Gutsy on a quest to learn more. Meanwhile, in California, Asian-American teens Benny Imura and Lou Chong and white girls Nix and Lilah are bored until they learn the capital, Asheville, was attacked and they’ve lost contact with their colleague Capt. Ledger, who was traveling there. The four, plus two other teens, steal four-wheelers and head east. The narrative bounces among Gutsy, the sextet of teens, and Capt. Ledger, but fortunately the characters are mostly distinctive—quite a feat with such a large cast. As expected, all paths eventually converge for an explosive climax which ends on a cliffhanger. Racism plays a role in what Gutsy uncovers but, once revealed, bizarrely isn’t really mentioned again. Despite the effort to build an inclusive cast, the fetishizing of light skin and European features, an insensitive presentation of facial disfigurement, the use of “illegal” for undocumented people, and some questionable racial descriptors are problematic. Still, fans will meet new characters and reunite with old in this compelling read.
Engaging—with reservations. (Post-apocalyptic. 13-18)