Sunday, December 12, 2010

Review: Z

Michael Thomas Ford, 2010, Random House Australia

Josh is by far the best zombie-torcher around - at least, in his online virtual-reality zombie-hunting game. Zombies haven't existed in the real world for more than fifteen years, and the battle to contain the epidemic is now the stuff of history lessons. Or so it seems. But when Josh accepts an invitation to join a secretive gamers' club, he discovers that gaming in the real world isn't as harmless as he'd expected. Real blood is being spilt, members of the team are disappearing, and the android zombies in the game are behaving oddly. And then there's the matter of a mysterious drug called Z...

For all that Z is aimed squarely at younger teens, and therefore written in a style that adults may find somewhat simplistic, older readers will nonetheless find plenty to enjoy in this novel. Presenting new spins on several well-worn tropes of YA fiction, the plot rolls along at a decent pace, and offers some mature commentary on a range of social issues; the characters are well-defined, interesting, and sufficiently 'real' to instill a sense that nobody in this fictional world is immune from harm; the prose and dialogue flow easily, adding to the momentum of the plot. In deference to its target audience, the book forgoes any major forays into gore, instead opting for short, sharp scares and some unsettling cut-aways.

For zomfic fans of any age, Z is definitely a novel worth reading, and one which ably showcases the versatility of the zombie in literature.