Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Review: 'Alice in Zombieland' by Gena Showalter

The moment our eyes met, the moisture in my mouth dried up and I lost focus
of my surroundings.  He was all that I could see, all that I wanted to see.
And in the span of a single second we were no longer across the hall from each other...
"-Ali. Ali!" Kat stepped in front of me.  She was frowning, waving.
"Hello? Anyone home?"

Alice, call me Ali, Bell may be going crazy.  It's hard to tell.  After her parents and younger sister are killed in an automobile accident, Ali starts to see dead people - not in a Sixth Sense kind of way, but in a zombies-only-you-can-see-are-coming-to-kill-you way.  All of her life, Ali's father insisted that the family be home and inside by dark and trained Ali to defend herself against the 'monsters'.  Ali always thought her father was crazy, but now she's not so sure.  Are grief and guilt making her see things?  Even worse, Ali has begone seeing visions when she meets the gaze of the very attractive, but certainly dangerous, school bad boy, Cole Holland.

This novel is certainly not your typical "zombie" book.  Nor is it really an Alice in Wonderland novel.  Showalter has blended bits of different zombie/revenant/ghost lore into a unique definition of "zombie".  First off, the zombies are of the more spiritual variety and do not have a physical form.  Second, instead of devouring your body (or brains), these zombies eat your soul - which I found a very interesting (and disturbing) twist.  Both Ali and Cole are wonderfully damaged individuals which makes for some memorable encounters.  Showalter does a great job of immersing the reader in the mind and emotions of a high school student dealing with a threat very few can see.  A secondary character, Kat, who becomes Ali's best friend, is feisty, smart and adds just the right amount of hilarity and snark to an otherwise serious novel.  I look forward to seeing how Showalter develops Kat as the Zombie-world grow.

My only criticism of Alice in Zombieland is that I sometimes felt as though depth was sacrificed for action.  I would have enjoyed a bit more background on Showalter's "zombies" and wonder that neither Ali's grandparents, guidance counselors, nor teachers, ever alerted the authorities to her father's odd behavior.  Requiring that all family members be in the house by dark - with no exceptions - is strange enough I figured someone would have noticed.  But the novel works and  readers looking for a quick, action-packed urban fantasy of the darker persuasion will enjoy Showalter's newest YA novel. 

Book Source: Local Library
Reviewer: Rebecca

Recommended Ages: 14+ Zombie violence, underage drinking, adult situations.

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