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

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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Heart-pounding.

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CEMETERY BOYS

A gay, transgender brujo with burgeoning powers seeks answers about his cousin’s death.

Sixteen-year-old Yadriel also wishes for acknowledgement from his community but unexpectedly finds himself entangled in the unresolved wishes of a strong-willed, good-looking spirit. He descends from a long line of brujx who have been granted magic power by Lady Death to heal the living and to guide spirits into the afterlife. Although he’s grown up surrounded by a close-knit community, Yadriel feels alone, excluded indefinitely from a sacred rite of passage because he is transgender. When he senses that his cousin Miguel has died suddenly but the family can’t locate him, Yadriel sees an opportunity to prove to everyone he’s a true brujo by solving the mystery and releasing his cousin’s lost spirit. His plan quickly falls apart, as he accidentally summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, a boy with unfinished business who died the same day as Miguel. Both the romance and mystery burn slow and hot until the climax. Stakes begin high, and the intensity only increases with a looming deadline and a constant risk that Julian might lose himself, turning maligno. The cast of characters represents a diversity of Latinx identities sharing a community in East Los Angeles. Julian is Colombian while Yadriel is Cuban and Mexican. Their romance provides joyful, ground-breaking representation for gay, transgender boys.

Heart-pounding. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25046-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Swoon Reads/Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.

THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE

Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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