Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an “Inward Trek.” As if that weren’t bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of “infects” shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate “Zombie Rules” almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back.
Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a delight to read—whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten—and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.
Best Bits: I can always appreciate YA books that focus on guys, since those tend to be rare in the genre. Plus, the way that the zombie apocalypse begins in this one is totally believable. Nick works at a chicken processing plant, and in a typical teen fashion is crushing on a girl he thinks is out of his league. Things head south at said job, and he ends up fighting off zombies at a wilderness camp. I'm actively choosing not to share how the zombies come into existence, but it's pretty clear when you're reading.
This book definitely didn't skimp on the gore or scare factor. I was genuinely spooked reading some scenes, with the anticipation that something bad was about to happen (I was usually right). What makes this book even better is the possibility that Nero may have been exposed to the virus and could be changing as well. We get a great look at his inner monologue and fight against the voice trying to control him.
Nit Picks: This book has it's own language, and a completely new slang vocabulary. In some books this works well, but at some points during this one I was drawn out of the story. I also thought that the end wrapped up extremely quickly. It was a time jump, and I wish I could have seen the bits in between.
By Sean Beaudoin
Published by Candlewick