Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Review: Zombie Blondes

Brian James, Macmillan, 2009

From the moment that Hannah Sanders - once again skipping from one town to the next with her deadbeat father - arrives in Maplecrest, she can sense there's something...off. Everything's just a litle too quiet, too well-ordered; the townsfolk just a little too old-fashioned; the high school cheerleading team just a little too perfect. But Hannah desperately wants to fit in, regardless of what her new friend Lukas is trying to tell her. And if she doesn't watch her back, she's going to end up like the rest of the cheerleading squad: blonde and popular.

And dead.

Zombie Blondes is the latest in a growing list of zombie-related novels hitting the Young Adult market. Here, the zombies of the piece - sentient, life-sucking ghouls rather than shambling flesheaters - represent the dangers of conformity and insular lifestyle, and while there's very little originality in the plot - the book reading essentially like a 'junior' version of The Stepford Wives or Invasion of the Body Snatchers - the author nonetheless generates an unsettling atmosphere of growing unease, punctuated by moments of genuine fear. The novel is written in a style that most adults, as well as the intended teen audience, will find accessible, and is overall a worthwhile read, with a surprisingly mature and downbeat conclusion.

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