A compulsively readable and pleasantly different zombie tale, all the way to its pull-no-punches end

TWICE SHY

And you think your mom is weird.

A carrier of Zombie Virus since birth, Ani died two years ago. Since then, her mom—formerly a top ZV researcher, now Ani’s high school nurse—has kept her daughter’s body more or less intact and her brain-eating impulse largely in check, all the while feverishly working on a cure. With her mom’s encouragement but against her natural inclinations, Ani joins the emo crowd at school to justify her pale skin, decaying-body-concealing clothing and job at the gaming shop, whose incense helps to mask the ever-present scent of formaldehyde. Less an action-adventure than a study of this peculiar mother-daughter relationship, Freivald’s debut milks all humor inherent in the situation while avoiding none of the darkness. The juxtaposition of the aggressively normal against the completely bizarre—Ani and “Dr. Frankenmom” unpack the bananas before heading downstairs into the state-of-the-art lab for more serum testing—is just right. As junior year lurches along (just like Ani on her perpetually broken hip), Ani finds herself chafing against her mother’s restrictions and caught between two boys: the seriously unhinged emo Dylan, who is obsessed with death, and the utterly adorable jock Mike, a childhood friend whose psycho girlfriend targets Ani for bullying. If some plot twists and secondary characterization falter, Ani’s intelligent, ZV-enhanced snark never does.

A compulsively readable and pleasantly different zombie tale, all the way to its pull-no-punches end . (Horror. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-936564-50-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: JournalStone

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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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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A meditation and adventure quest offering solace to anyone bearing an unfair burden.

EACH OF US A DESERT

What does it mean to come into your own power by letting go of it?

The villagers of Empalme devoutly pray to Solís, the feared higher power who unleashed La Quema, or fire, on humanity for its ills of greed, war, and jealousy. As the village cuentista, Xochitl listens to and receives the villagers’ stories into her body, clearing their consciences, preventing the manifestation of their nightmares, and releasing them to Solís in the desert. Having diligently played this role since childhood, she is now a deeply lonesome 16-year-old whose only comfort comes from cherished poems. Worn weary by her role, she leaves on an odyssey in search of another way to exist. In their sophomore novel, Oshiro deftly weaves an intricate, allegorical, and often gory tale within a post-apocalyptic desert setting that readers will feel so viscerally they may very well need to reach for a glass of water. It is a world parallel to ours, rife with Biblical references and the horrific traps that Latinx immigrants face while seeking better lives. Xochitl’s first-person, questioning narration—interlaced with terrifying cuentos that she receives on her journey—is the strongest voice, although secondary and tertiary characters, both human and mythical, are given a tenderness and humanity. All main characters are Latinx, and queer relationships are integrated with refreshing normality.

A meditation and adventure quest offering solace to anyone bearing an unfair burden. (Fantasy/horror. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-16921-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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