Another fire-and-brimstone end sets up a third outing; fans will be slavering for it

READ REVIEW

SPECIAL DEAD

Just because Ani is a zombie doesn’t mean she’s not entitled to a free and appropriate education, right?

A little over a year after the Prompocalypse that left 26 dead and 10—eight students and two teacher chaperones—infected with the Chinese weaponized zombie virus that wiped out Los Angeles, the kids are going back to school. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Banerjee and Ani’s mom, Dr. Romero, they’ve been kept successfully undead, and as long as the courts are undecided as to their humanity, their old school has to educate them. Kind of. They are segregated in a “Special Dead” classroom, must wear helmets and mouth guards, and are allowed only crayons to write with. A flamethrower-armed guard is on duty at all times to turn any suddenly violent zombie into a heap of ash. Freivald follows up his successful debut, Twice Shy (2012), with an equally enjoyable sequel. He populates the Special Dead classroom with a terrific mix of personalities, including both high achievers and kids in genuine need of special ed. That one of these is Mike, Ani’s crush from the first book whose brain she partially ate, triggering the Prompocalypse, is especially poignant. As in the first book, dark humor balances deftly with out-and-out horror, the mundane realities of undeath providing ample opportunity for both.

Another fire-and-brimstone end sets up a third outing; fans will be slavering for it . (Horror. 14 & up)

Pub Date: July 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-936564-80-4

Page Count: 260

Publisher: JournalStone

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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An intimate portrait of female friendship laced with literal and metaphorical magic.

WHEN WE WERE MAGIC

Getting through high school requires more than a little bit of magic.

On prom night, when Alexis accidentally kills Josh Harper, she panics and summons her five best friends—Paulie, Roya, Iris, Marcelina, and Maryam—for help. Alexis knows she can rely on them, not only because of their unshakeable friendship, but because of what they have in common: the ability to do magic. Attempting to make things right, the girls cast a spell but are left with a disconnected collection of Josh’s body parts, including a cold, glassy version of his heart. They divide them up and agree to dispose of what is left of Josh, piece by piece. Alexis insists on witnessing each body-part-releasing ceremony, in the process exploring her bonds with her friends—and, in one case, feelings that go far beyond friendship. But as their relationships strengthen, the spell takes its toll: Every time they lose a body part, the girls lose something too, forcing them to rethink how they define themselves and each other. This work of speculative fiction is a profoundly thoughtful exploration of female friendship, love, growth, and identity. The fully realized characters are diverse in ethnicity, sexuality, and gender identity. While the final two-thirds of the book are beautifully paced, balancing introspection and character development with plot, the first third at times feels weighed down by explanation and backstory.

An intimate portrait of female friendship laced with literal and metaphorical magic. (Speculative fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3287-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A slasher flick spliced with Crime and Punishment, this engrossing debut novel asks complex philosophical questions in a...

NOT EVEN BONES

From the Market of Monsters series , Vol. 1

An adolescent, yet Nietzschean, examination of humanity and horror.

Nita is a monster. Literally. She can heal her own wounds and even block her pain receptors. But she and her mother also deal in monsters, species regulated by the International Non-Human Police, selling their body parts on the black market. Her ghoulish mother hunts and kills, while Nita dissects them with a meditative grace, trying to think of herself as innocent. But when Nita’s conscience inconveniently prevents her from vivisecting a live specimen, she’s kidnapped and taken to the Amazon, caged by people in the same business. Menaced by a zannie (creatures that feed off physical pain) and a ruthless woman, Nita, who is mixed species (with a brown-skinned human father and a nonhuman mother), has to figure out how to escape and whether she has any morals to live by. The vivid setting, Mercado de la Muerte (one of several Death Markets worldwide) in a sweltering South American jungle populated by buyers, sellers, and sold, is matched by a zipping plot interspersed with deliciously horrifying and gory scenes of dismemberment and destruction. Equally intriguing is the constant musing on what makes a monster, how people respond to trauma and control, and how one’s choices affirm or deny one’s own humanity.

A slasher flick spliced with Crime and Punishment, this engrossing debut novel asks complex philosophical questions in a pleasingly hard-to-stomach way. (Fantasy. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-86354-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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