Let me first say that the Midseason Premiere of The Walking Dead Season 6 was AMAZING!
All the haters for that episode need to just move along because it was the perfect mix of comic book storytelling and an uplifting turn on the well-deserved show descriptor “misery porn.”
With that being said, my zombie obsession is therefore still alive and well. Since Valentine’s Day is for zombies this year, I wanted to make a list of some of my YA zombie book picks:
The Unconventional Zombie Tale — Undead by Kirsty McKay
This story focuses on new girl Bobby and the local high school bad boy Smitty. They are the only two to stay behind on the bus while an entire class field trip is converted into ravenous undead. With a female lead who rises spectacularly to the hardcore occasion, this zombie novel is rather different than most of them which focus on a guy lead. Also, many of the traditional zombie flick tropes are actually parodied in the story. This book is definitely the choice for those who want something a little different.
The Classic — Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Considered to now be one of the tried and true classics of the YA zombie genre. It is a zombie story with a post-apocalyptic twist. The main character is 15-year-old Benny who becomes a zombie hunter to help defend his city from the undead. The only problem is that there is a conspiracy afoot and the zombie horde might not be what they seem.
The Survival Story — Sick by Tom Leveen
This book is somewhat of a “locked room” scenario coupled with zombie survival. Almost all the students and teachers at a high school are turned into bloodthirsty attackers. Brian and his best friend manage to find a safe place to stay with a bunch of theater kids, but they must get to Brian’s sister and his ex-girlfriend before they are torn to shreds. Even though the theater kids and Brian never mixed before this day, they band together to make it through the school and get the girls.
Hope you enjoy these zombie picks as much as I did!
The Walking Dead has basically become an institution in the zombie literature world. While it is not necessarily a young adult option, many older teens have latched onto the graphic novels. With this idea in mind, I need to point out that some of the themes and scenes can get quite brutal and gory. Therefore, this adult-to-YA crossover should only be reserved for older teens—as in AT LEAST 16 years old.
Ok, with that caveat out of the way, we can really get into it!
The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman is actually an ongoing series of graphic novels. The story follows police officer Rick Grimes who wakes from a coma after being shot in the line of duty. Rather than being greeted by his wife Lori and son Carl, he finds his town is overrun by walking corpses. The first part of the series follows Rick trying to be reunited with his family, which happens in a rather unexpected way. Then, they must work to survive in this new, vicious world while trying to still have a life. It truly is amazingly written and has stunning artwork, courtesy of artist Tony Moore.
Bring It to Life (BITL)!
There are actually two awesome ways to bring this graphic novel to life. The most obvious is of course The Walking Dead television show on AMC. The first season is quite short, but it really does a nice job of presenting this new zombie world and introducing Rick and his family as primary characters. Those who are already familiar with the graphic novels might find the second season to be better though since it picks up at the Greene family farm that is a notable setting in the first stories.
The second way to bring the stories to life is to actually zombify yourself! AMC created several ways for users to turn a picture of themselves into a walker. There is a smartphone app, an email service that chooses good pictures to zombify, and a way to upload fan art zombified self portraits to compete in the Zombify Yourself Challenge to have the picture appear during an episode of The Walking Dead! More information can be found at http://www.amctv.com/shows/the-walking-dead/zombify-yourself-challenge
While there was a little bit of romance in The Forest of Hands and Teeth, it certainly took a back seat. Therefore, I thought I would shake things up with a zombie story where the romance is in the forefront. Obviously, the best example in my opinion is Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion.
The book draws multiple parallels to Romeo and Juliet, and it is obvious that integrating the Shakespeare classic was the main original goal. I mean the main guy’s name is R while the main girl is Julie. Yet, despite the foundation in this tragic romance, things move away greatly from there. The basic arrangement is a zombie named R falling in love with a human named Julie. Now, how R falls for Julie (whether it is just the connection between them, the fact that R ate the brains of Julie’s now dead boyfriend Perry, or some combination of the two) is unknown. The story goes deeper than this love though. It investigates what it means to be human, what are innate human desires and needs, and how love can heal. There is action, drama, and plenty of comedy intricately woven into the book in addition to the romance. Honestly, it is definitely worth a read. Even those who are not interested in zombies or those not interested in romance can find something they enjoy about it. It has become one of my top 10 favorite books of all time. It is also a quick and easy read—which means you can’t duck out of reading it due to not having enough time!
Bring It to Life (BITL)!
Watch Warm Bodies!
The novel was converted into a film in 2013. While it did not get a great deal of promotion or widespread notice, the movie is truly amazing. It is actually one of the better book-to-movie conversions. The film holds true to most of the original novel with a few exceptions to make it fit better with the movie format. However, it is incredibly true to the novel. Almost all of the major themes and events are part of it. The only super difference is that the movie decided to enhance and work more with the comedic aspects of Warm Bodies, particularly R’s inner monologue. Despite this shift, I think it makes the film work even better. Get everyone together for a viewing!
I thought we would begin the October zombie-fest with something a little new. I happened to run across The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan when I was in a Montreal bookstore. Obviously, it was the French version so I had by now-husband-then-boyfriend translate the blurb since the cover looked intriguing.
Basically, it follows the story of a young girl named Mary. She lives in a small, enclosed village that is surrounded by a vast forest. While it seems this rather rustic setting is more about isolation and surviving without modern conveniences, it actually is a forced isolation as the forest is filled with “Unconsecrated,” which is their word for zombies. The terms utilized in the book are actually quite interesting unto themselves, such as Unconsecrated, the Resurrection, and the Sisterhood. The religious references are not by accident either since Mary’s village is super religion-orientated with the Sisterhood (basically a ruling class of nuns) using religion to keep the villagers in line and indicating theirs is the last human habitation on earth. This village is thrown into disarray when a young girl from Village XIV randomly shows up though.
A complicated romance is integrated into The Forest of Hands and Teeth, but throughout most of the story it kind of takes a back seat to survival. Therefore, the book is still suitable for those who do not care for reading about romance and young love.
Overall though, it is super amazing. Carrie Ryan followed up with another book called The Dead Tossed Waves, which is another zombie story within the same universe as The Forest of Hands and Teeth but not a direct sequel.
Bring It to Life (BITL)!
Compose a zombie survival kit!
The idea of survival in problematic situations is a strong theme in the book. Therefore, the best way to bring the concept of survival to life is to make your own survival kit. This is actually a fun party game too. Rather than composing a physical kit, a simple list can be made and then compared with friends.
The following is a really awesome survival sheet from LostZombie.com: