We’ve all heard of Twilight. But perhaps it’s time to try something different…
Afterlife with Archie, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla
I know what you’re thinking. Archie, wholesome hero of almost 77 years of comics set in the all-American town of Riverdale, fighting against the Undead? It’s a strange concept, but a concept that works. The art’s not the usually cartoony Archie style, which is also good. I don’t want to give the plot away, but it’s well worth a look.
Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula, Andi Watson
This is a rather wacky take on your bog-standard supernatural romance. Princess Decomposia spends most of her life running the kingdom while her hypochondriac father lies in bed. On her to do list is to hire a new cook. Luckily, Count Spatula appears. He’s a charming chap with a knack for baking impressive meals. It’s hardly the most terrifying story of love between the undead, but Halloween is equally parts “treat” to “trick.”** A nice break from all the chewing on brains.
The forest of hands and teeth, Carrie Ryan
What happens ten years after the zombie apocalypse? Twenty? This book is set in an undefined period of time after the zombies – here called “Unconsecrated” – have apparently taken over the world. It’s a wonderful blend of horror and dystopia and a really great look at how humanity copes with the undead after the initial attack. It’s also an interesting coming of age story about a young woman struggling with the traditions she’s grown up with and the promise of a world outside all that she’s ever known.
The abused werewolf rescue group, Catherine Jinks
Tobias Richard Vandevelde begins his lycanthropic journey not howling under the moon on a deserted moor but naked in a dingo pen. After that rather inglorious start thing escalate, and the titular group comes into play. I’ve been a fan of Catherine Jinks for a long time, so I was pretty excited to find out she’d written something in my favourite genre. Fair warning, though: you won’t find handsome men with rippling abs brooding under the full moon in this book. Refreshing, really.
**It took me a long time to think of this sentence and I refuse to apologise for it.
Undead with benefits, Jeff Hart
Jake and Amanda are in love, on the run—and undead. They’ve teamed up with Cass, who’s ditched her former job as shady government psychic zombie-tracker, and they’re headed across the border into Iowa, where there’s rumored to be a zombie cure. Armed with a trunk full of guinea pigs (aka zombie snacks), they’re ready to take on the Midwest’s first undead warlord, the psycho psychic out for their blood, and their own superawkward love triangle. But the virus is spreading faster than you can say “zombie apocalypse,” and Jake, Amanda, and Cass have to find the cure—if it even exists—before the whole state of Iowa goes up in flames. (Goodreads)
First lines: My first week as a zombie ended when a dark haired psychic collapsed into my arms, blood curling out of her nose, her eyes wide and pleading with me. Behind us: a farmhouse where a hoard of Iowan zombies were still snacking on recently massacred government agents. Around us: Tall grass and the unconscious bodies of our friends, courtesy of some psychic mojo I couldn’t even begin to understand. In front of us: the future, the great unknown, and probably a lot of walking.
The boy I love, Nina de Gramont
Sixteen-year-old Wren has been content to stay in her best friend Allie’s shadow. It doesn’t bother her that Ally gets the cutest guys, the cutest clothes, and even a modeling gig—Wren is happy hanging with the horses on her family’s farm and avoiding the jealousy of other girls. But when Tim, the most intriguing guy in school, starts hanging out with Ally and Wren, jealousy is unavoidable, but not the kind Wren expects. Because even though Ally is way into him and Wren hasn’t flirted, not one little bit, it becomes increasingly clear that Tim prefers Wren’s company above anyone else’s. Tim’s unexpected devotion comes at the exact time Wren’s home life is about to be turned upside down. But at least there is Tim…always a gentleman and ever dependable. But as his own seemingly perfect world comes spiraling down around him and he tells Wren his biggest secret, Wren must decide what she’ll really do for love. (Goodreads)
First lines: I could tell you that the trouble between Allie and me started with Tim Greenlaw, but that wouldn’t be completely true. If I’m going to be honest (and what’s the point of telling this story of I’m not going to be honest?), it’s never been easy having a friend who looks like Allie.
Zodiac, Romina Russell
Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories. When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancerian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts. Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians. But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?(Goodreads)
First lines: When U think of home, I see blue. The swirl blue of the seawater, the infinite blue of the sky, the brilliant blue of Mom’s gaze. Sometimes I question if her eyes were really that blue, or if the blue of House Cancer colours them in my memory.
The last leaves falling, Sarah Benwell
Japanese teenager, Sora, is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Lonely and isolated, Sora turns to the ancient wisdom of the samurai for guidance and comfort. But he also finds hope in the present; through the internet he finds friends that see him, not just his illness. (Goodreads)
First lines: I stare at the cursor blinking expectantly at the top of the page. Who do I want to be? There are so many choices; honest, funny, brave. A superhero with a tragic past and a bright, mysterious future; with super strength or telekinetic powers. I could be anyone and they would never know.
Avalon, Mindee Arnett
Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light. Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they’re damn good at it. Jeth doesn’t care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents’ ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he’ll go to get the freedom he’s wanted for so long.(Goodreads)
First lines: Stealing a spaceship shouldn’t be this easy. Jeth Seagrave peered around the corner and counted the number of sentries standing at the docking bay terminal. There were two of them, both sporting the tan uniforms of the local guards, with matching bored expressions. He slipped back before being spotted.
First team, Tim Green
Brock Nickerson is on the run…again. But this time his dad promises it’s going to be different. With his strong left arm, Brock knows he can be a great quarterback, and with the help of his new friend, Mak, he has a plan to beat the odds and make the first team. But the coaches have plans of their own, especially for the kids from the wrong side of the tracks, which is exactly where Brock now lives. Brock is trying to finally fit in, but his father’s past is creeping up on him—and one chance meeting causes everything to come crashing down. Will Brock finally be able to navigate his new life, or will his past force him back on the run? (Goodreads)
First lines: Brock was used to running. It’s just what he and his dad did. He could hear the thump of his own pounding heart. He looked out the window. The darkness outside their racing car was complete. Clouds covered the moon and a light drizzle rushed by in a mist.
Slump, Kevin Waltman
Derrick Bowen’s sophomore year is a grind. He’s been looking forward to the basketball season all summer, but his girlfriend Jasmine leaves him for putting too much focus on basketball. The promise his Marion East basketball team showed at the end of last season isn’t materializing. And the sweet jumper D-Bow worked on all summer just isn’t falling. When Derrick’s father is severely injured in a car crash, Derrick is faced with a new reality where basketball can’t be his only priority. (Goodreads)
First lines: Any other sixteen-year-old gets invited over to his girl’s place to watch a movie and it doesn’t mean they’re going to “watch a movie.” But with Jasmine, it actually means that’s what we’re doing – sitting on the couch in her living room, her tablet between us, checking out Jackie Robinson and 42.
Rat runners, Oisin McGann
Four young criminals. One simple task: steal a mysterious box from the daughter of a dead scientist. They have to follow her, bug her phone, hack her computer, search her home, all without her knowing. But WatchWorld run this city now. On every street are cameras, X-ray scanners, microphones. Terrifying Safe-Guards can see through walls, hear your heartbeat, analyze the smell of your sweat. Their motto? If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear. But Nimmo, Scope, Manikin and FX, who work in the blind-spots of the city’s shady underworld, are soon caught in a maze of deception, treachery and murder… will they make it out of the rat-runs alive?(Goodreads)
First lines: Nimmo heard the whistles and immediately stopped what he was doing. People on the ground floor of the tenement were warning those above. There was a Safe-Guard in the building. He looked at his watch, noting the time. Six-fifteen – three hours before sundown. He needed to be gone before seven, or he’d have to leave the job for another night.
Waiting for Unicorns, Beth Hautala
After her mother dies, twelve-year-old Talia McQuinn goes to the Arctic with her father, a whale researcher. Over the course of one summer, and through several unlikely friendships, Talia learns that stories have the power to connect us, to provide hope, and to pull us out of the darkness.(Goodreads)
First lines: The Inuit woman told me that if I ever saw a unicorn, to close my eyes. Tight.
“Unicorns break your heart,” she said, all the warmth seeping out of her voice. She was warning me against the very thing I was dying to see.
Diamond boy, Michael Williams
“Diamonds for everyone.” That’s what fifteen-year-old Patson Moyo hears when his family arrives in the Marange diamond fields. Soon Patson is working in the mines himself, hoping to find his girazi–the priceless stone that could change his life forever. But when the government’s soldiers comes to Marange, Patson’s world is shattered.(Goodreads)
First lines: How did you get here, Patson? Sometimes the simple questions are the hardest to answer. My tongue lay like a chisel in my mouth; my eyes leaden. I was swimming from a place of no feeling, moving steadily upward into a world of sensation to the dark, throbbing pain that lived in my leg.
Knockout games, G. Neri
Knockout Games is set in modern day St. Louis amidst a disturbing rash of seemingly random attacks on bystanders by a group of urban teenagers in a crew called the TKO club. The protagonist, Erica, is one of a few girls who is down with TKO in part due to her natural skill with a video camera and her ability to make art out of the attacks. (Goodreads)
First lines: It came out of nowhere. The sound of Nikes charging across asphalt – the bounce of baby fat in the black kid’s face- the meat of his fist smashing into a random stranger’s jaw- I heard the SMACK! from where I was standing. Through my lens, I saw the stranger’s cigarette fly out of frame, his eyes rolling back into his head _ and then he just fell. Hard.
The Halcyon Bird, Kat Beyer
Mia has settled into her life with the Della Torres — Milan’s premier demon-catching family, accompanying them to exorcisms and even learning some way to be useful in the family trade. Then Bernardo comes into her life, handsome, well-mannered, someone who makes her forget her impossible crush on Emilio, her cousin. But always lurking in the background is the demon who possessed Mia once before, and who has not given up on possessing her again–this time for good. (Goodreads)
First lines: It was only a small candle. The first match went out, but the second took, and Nonno Giuliano nodded at the tiny flame like an old friend. The man on the floor lay perfectly still, his eyes on the ceiling, in the middle of a rug full of shattered glad, his head twisted at a frightening angle.
Seeker, Arwen Elys Dayton
Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’. Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin’s new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her. (Goodreads)
First lines: It would be nice to make it through alive, Quinn thought, She ducked to the right as her opponent’s sword came whistling past the left side of her body, nearly slicing of her arm. Quin’s own whipsword was coiled in her hand in its whip form. With a crack, she flicked it out, and it solidified into a long sword.
Salt and storm, Kendall Kulper
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother – the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic – steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe’s power. The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches’ help to thrive. Avery has never read a dream that hasn’t come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance. (Goodreads)
First lines: Despite my mother’s best efforts, I never forgot the day my grandmother taught me how to tie the winds. That was ten years ago, when Prince Island was more than just a rock out in the Atlantic Ocean, when its docks choked with ships, when the factory furnaces spat out a constant stream of thick black smoke and the island’s bars spat out a constant stream of laughing men, their faces round and shiny.
A cold legacy, Megan Shepherd
After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.
Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own. (Goodreads)
First lines: The last traveller’s inn on the road from Inverness was no place to die. Freezing rain lashed the windowpanes as I huddled over a warm bowl of soup in a corner of the inn’s ground floor tavern. Across the table, Montgomery rubbed a scar on his arm and stared out the window, scanning the muddy road for signs we were being pursued.
Zomburbia, Adam Gallardo
My name is Courtney Hart, and I’m here to tell you about things that suck. Being born in a podunk town like Salem, Oregon, for one. Living in a world infested with zombies? That, too. And the meat heads I go to school with? I think I’d actually take the undead over them most days. But I have a plan to get out of here and move to New York. I just have to keep selling Vitamin Z along with your fries at The Bully Burger. The secret ingredient? Zombie brains. I’ve noticed things are getting even worse lately, if that’s even possible. The zombies seem to be getting smarter and faster. If I can avoid being arrested, eaten by shufflers, or catching the eye of some stupid boy, I should be able to make it through finals week still breathing…(Goodreads)
First lines: The night shifts at Bully Burger are the absolute worst. It’s like sitting through a five-hour History lecture from Mr. Chanders, only you have to wear a festively colored polyester uniform while you do it. Maybe a car an hour comes through the drive-thru, and you get really tired of that fearful look people have in their eyes after dark.
Of metal and wishes, Sarah Fine
There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally. Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her…for a very long time.
As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it. (Goodreads)
First lines: If I believed in the devil, I’d give him credit for the shift whistle at the Gochan One factory. Its shriek rips me from a dream of the wind whispering through flowering dogwood trees. I fold the pillow over my ears, crush it down, and think of my mother singing me to sleep.
Circus of the unseen, Joanne Owen
After an accident at her grandmother’s house, Rosie is transported to a strange and sinister world populated by a cast of carnivalesque characters who reside in the Circus of the Unseen. They are reigned over by an old woman called Madam Matushka, who guards the threshold between life and death and has extraordinary powers over all around her.
This is an in-between world, a bizarre and trapped existence, but Rosie is not like the others here. She seems to be hovering between the worlds of the living and the dead, and she is a challenge to Madam Matushka. Can Rosie escape Madame Matushka’s malevolent rule and a world in limbo? And can she help resolve another mystery – one at the heart of her grandmother’s life?(Goodreads)
First lines: Long ago, when the world was young and people still though of the marsh and the mists and the witch in the woods, there lived a girl called Vasilia, whose mother fell gravely ill. On her deathbed, Vasilia’s mother called for her daughter.
Oh yeah, Audrey! Tucker Shaw
It’s 5:00 a.m. on Fifth Avenue, and 16-year-old Gemma Beasley is standing in front of Tiffany & Co. wearing the perfect black dress with her coffee in hand—just like Holly Golightly. As the cofounder of a successful Tumblr blog—Oh Yeah Audrey!—devoted to all things Audrey Hepburn, Gemma has traveled to New York in order to meet up with her fellow bloggers for the first time. She has meticulously planned out a 24-hour adventure in homage to Breakfast at Tiffany’s; however, her plans are derailed when a glamorous boy sweeps in and offers her the New York experience she’s always dreamed of. Gemma soon learns who her true friends are and that, sometimes, no matter where you go, you just end up finding yourself.(Goodreads)
First lines: It’s not like I officially ran away. Actual running away is when you just can’t take it anymore – your family or school or life in general- and you hop on a bus to some big city, change your name, and find a job clearing plates or checking coats at a restaurant.
Monstrous affections: an anthology of beastly tales, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant
Fifteen top voices in speculative fiction explore the intersection of fear and love in a haunting, at times hilarious, darkly imaginative volume.
Predatory kraken that sing with – and for – their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as to repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side-by-side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling, to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Here you’ll find mercurial forms that burrow into warm fat, spectral boy toys, a Maori force of nature, a landform that claims lives, and an architect of hell on earth. Through these, and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today’s top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders.(Goodreads)
First lines: Let’s be honest. We have questions about monsters. That’s why we put this book together. That’s why you’re reading this book right now. On old maps, cartographers would draw strange beasts around the margins and wrote phrases such as “Here there be dragons.” That’s where monsters exist: in the unmapped spaces, in the places where we haven’t filled in all the gaps, in outer space or the deepest parts of the ocean.
Hello! Apologies for my absence over the last couple of weeks, I was busy getting some of my wisdom teeth taken out. I wouldn’t recommend it as a lifestyle choice, but it’s not so bad in the long run. To honour of my loss of wisdom (and teeth) I thought I would feature some toothy books, ranging from orthodontic problems to toothy beasties. Sink your teeth in!
Smile, Raina Telgemeier
“Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.” (Goodreads)
White Fang, Jack London
“In the desolate, frozen wilds of northwest Canada, White Fang, a part dog, part wolf cub soon finds himself the sole survivor of a litter of five. In his lonely world, he soon learned to follow the harsh law of the North – kill or be killed. But nothing in his young life prepared him for the cruelty of the bully Beauty Smith, who buys White Fang from his Indian master and turns him into a vicious killer – a pit dog forced to fight for money. Will White Fang ever know the kindness of a gentle master or will he die a fierce deadly killer?” (Goodreads)
Dracula, Bram Stoker
“Jonathan Harker is sent by his law firm to Castle Dracula to discuss business with Transylvania noble Count Dracula. His nightmare experience there is just the start of a macabre chain of events. Harker soon finds himself in a race against time to free his wife, Mina, and other souls who are in thrall to the evil count. Dracula must be destroyed at all costs…” (Syndetics summary)
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan
“In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best, and the fence that protects her village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth must remain intact. After fence is breached, Mary’s world is thrown into chaos, and she must choose between her village and her future.” (Syndetics summary)
Chomp, Carl Hiaasen
“Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he’s grown up with all manner of critters, but his father is the unpredictable one. When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called “Expedition Survival!”, Wahoo figures he’ll have to do a bit of wrangling himself — to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show’s boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. And Wahoo’s acquired a shadow named Tuna — a girl who’s sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out. They’ve only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna’s dad shows up with a gun…” (Adapted from Goodreads)
Swamplandia!, Karen Russell
“The Bigtree alligator wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, its island home and gator-wrestling theme park, is swiftly being encroached upon by a competitor. To save her family, Ava must journey on her own to a perilous part of the swamp called the Underworld.” (Syndetics summary)
In historical milestone news, last week (the 28th of January to be exact) marked the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen! It’s a great read with a cast of oddball characters, and it will take up that “classics” spot in your school reading log quite nicely.
200 years is a long time, and there have been a whole bunch of different adaptations and versions of P+P. Here are a few of our faves:
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Of course.
The 2005 movie with Keira Knightley in it. Bingley, please.
Prom & Prejudice, a modern retelling of P+P. Same names and everything! But set in a high school.
The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, an online video series adaptation in the form of vlogs. It is super good! Also, it was co-created and developed by Hank Green of vlogbrothers fame i.e. brother of John Green.
This excellent cartoon summary version.
And finally, this has got to be the prettiest edition of the book ever:
Check it out in real life to see the extent of its prettiness – bright coloured page edges, embossing and a silky matte cover. It’s designed by Jessica Hische (my favourite graphic designer!) and you can see a few more from this series on her website.
Happy P+P anniversary, enjoy in any way you wish!
Can you take a zombie seriously? Sometimes yes, sometimes no (it depends largely on whether there is supposed to be kissing).
This is Not a Test, Courtney Summers – this book is a horror story: imagine being trapped inside your school building with five other students, with moaning masses of the undead outside, lying in wait, when you know it’s only a matter of time before the water supply runs dry, you eat your last food, and face the prospect of either starving to death or running the zombie gauntlet outside, to who knows where. What makes it worse is how the horror plays out in the way that you and your schoolmates cope. And then, when you think you’ve barricaded the school building enough, someone gets in.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan – to quote an earlier post: “Mary lives in a fenced village in the middle of the forest of hands and teeth; fenced, because the forest of hands and teeth is peopled with zombies (the Unconsecrated) with an undying drive to bite. When the village’s fortifications are compromised Mary must flee in the ensuing chaos, down the paths that run through the forest, following mysterious symbols that might lead her to the sea she dreams of.”
Rot & Ruin, Jonathan Maberry – the School Library Journal likes this series, perhaps even better than The Forest of Hands and Teeth: they say it “appears to be a retelling of Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth but with a male protagonist. But Maberry’s vision of a zombie-infested future has more action, more violence, and more emotional depth” (School Library Journal). It must be good then! Instead of a forest, here there’s the Rot and Ruin where – Benny (the male protagonist) learns – the zombies actually aren’t even the scariest prospect.
The Enemy, Charlie Higson – the latest in the series (The Sacrifice) has recently arrived. When a sickness sweeps through London, affecting everyone over the age of 14, leaving them either (mercifully) dead or the walking undead, those under 14 find themselves in a fight to survive. Some, sensibly, hole up in supermarkets (the lucky ones in Waitrose, which is quite posh), while they must attempt to make their way to the relative safety of Buckingham Palace. But if they get to Buckingham Palace, what will they find? A zombie queen? Or something more problematic? We should’t be too flip: this one’s grim and doesn’t pull any punches.
Not quite as seriously:
Dearly Departed, Lia Habel – this series is called “Gone with the Respiration” (a salute to Gone With the Wind), so I think it’s safe to say it’s a bit fun. “Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead – or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?” (Goodreads.com). This brings a whole new meaning to the expression “undying love”.
You Are So Undead to Me, Stacey Jay – the first in the series about Megan Berry, Zombie Settler. Homecoming (and people’s lives) are in peril when someone starts using black magic to turn the average, bumbling undead of an Arkansas town into souped-up zombies. Can Megan save the day? Can she what! (I’m picking).
I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It, Adam Selzer – take that Katy Perry. Ali meets the mysterious Doug – a strong, silent, Goth-type of singer – and falls madly in love with him before, doh, someone points out he’s actually a zombie. Naturally Doug’s mysteriousness is not all that attractive any more, but when Ali tries to dump him she learns it’s not so easy to get rid of a zombie. She also learns, along the way, that vampires don’t like their music being critiqued.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith – I think you have to give credit to someone who basically invents a new genre in the 21st century. This was the first Classic Novel Horror Mashup, and there’s a bunch of others, including Romeo and Juliet, Sense and Sensibility, and P & P & Z even has it’s own sequels and prequels. Excellent.
A mixed bag:
Zombie Blondes, Brian James – Hannah is the new girl in a town where the many houses for sale and the, well, deathly quiet suggest something’s wrong. Hannah seems oblivious on her first day of school, when she meets the popular crowd: a group of cheerleaders who all look remarkably the same, and who Hannah really wants to be like.
Zombies Versus Unicorns – more to the point, can you take a unicorn seriously? One or two writers have had a crack at it in this oddly fab collection of short stories.
Stephanie’s been ordering up a storm: here’s a couple of new interesting titles you might like to reserve. Zombies and vampires, oh my! (More next Wednesday.)
Team Human, Justine Larbalastier and Sarah Rees Brennan. This is a spoof, obviously, but reviewers say it’s an affectionate spoof, from the authors of Liar, and The Demon’s Lexicon:
“Just because Mel lives in New Whitby, a city founded by vampires, doesn’t mean she knows any of the blood-drinking undead personally. They stay in their part of town; she says in hers. Until the day a vampire shows up at her high school. Worse yet, her best friend, Cathy, seems to be falling in love with him. It’s up to Mel to save Cathy from a mistake she might regret for all eternity.
“On top of trying to help Cathy (whether she wants it or not), Mel is investigating a mysterious disappearance for another friend and discovering the attractions of a certain vampire wannabe. Combine all this with a cranky vampire cop, a number of unlikely romantic entanglements, and the occasional zombie, and soon Mel is hip-deep in an adventure that is equal parts hilarious and touching.” (goodreads.com)
This Is Not a Test, Courtney Summers. Brace yourself: Courtney Summers, queen of gritty stories, does the zombie apocalypse (that is a blood spatter top left of the book cover):
“It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.
“To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.
“But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside.
“When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?” (goodreads.com)
Imagine a .pdf titled ‘Neil Gaiman Recommends Scary Books to Give Readers This Halloween’. Imagine no longer! For it is a reality.
Did you like my trick/treat? (The trick is that the .pdf is really, really big.)
Anyway, read the rest of the All Hallow’s Read before … it’s TOO LATE
Finder’s Shore, by Anna Mackenzie (218 pages) – This, the ‘gripping finale to the award-winning Sea-Wreck Stranger Trilogy’, has Ness returning back to the island she fled from three years previously. A ‘haunting exploration of belonging, of life’s tangled threads, of the stark and unsettling reality of ambition and greed.’ Look for it in next year’s NZ Post Children’s Book Awards, and say to yourself, “man, that guy on that library blog was right – again”.
First lines: ‘Blood binds me to this place. Blood and memory.‘
King of Ithaka, by Tracy Barrett (261 pages) – Telemachos is the son of Odysseus, king of Ithaka, and although the island has been doing okay without its ruler (who has been dealing with the Trojan War) for many years, the people are getting restless. They want a new king! So Telemachos leaves home to find his dad with only a cryptic prophecy to guide him.
First line: ‘Brax snorted and stamped, his bony knee grazing my ear.‘
Bad Taste in Boys, by Carrie Harris (201 pages) – Kate Grable wants to become a physician, so when she gets to help her high school football team she’s thrilled, as it’s a nice career move. And she also has a crush on the quarterback. However, the idiot coach has been giving the team steroids which somehow turn the team into zombies who crave the ‘other’ white meat, if you know what I mean (i.e., they literally want to eat Kate and her pals). Can Kate find an antidote? Or will she be food?
First line: ‘“You’re one of thos genius types,” said Coach, nudging me with a beefy elbow.‘
The Unidentified, by Rae Mariz (296 pages) – It is … the future! But it’s a dystopian future, sadly. Fifteen-year-old Katey goes to school in a mall/school (‘The Game‘) run by corporations, who use the students for market research and product creation. One day she witnesses a shocking anticorporate prank, and by following the clues she discovers a counterculture group who call themselves The Unidentified. They too become part of the marketing they so dislike, so Katey decides to do something that could change The Game forEVER!
First lines: ‘If reality TV cameras were installed in my high school, the would be focused directly on the Pit. That’s where all the drama plays out.‘
Picture The Dead, by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown (262 pages) – I am having trouble summarising this book, so here’s the catalogue; ‘After Jennie Lovell’s fiancé, Will, is killed during the Civil War, she forms an alliance with a spirit photographer and uses her ability to talk to the dead to investigate the secrets Will was hiding and how he really died.’ This book (a ghost story and a mystery!) has many lovely illustrations!
First line: ‘It’s dark outside, an elsewhere hour between midnight and dawn. I lie awake, frozen, waiting for a sound not yet audible.‘
Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt : And Other Things I learned in Southern Belle Hell, by Crickett Rumley (296 pages) – Deliquent seventeen-year-old Jane has been expelled from thirteen boarding schools, and so is sent back to the small town in Alabama her family comes from. There she finds herself stuck in Magnolia Maid Pageant hell, where everyone wears pearls and those massive Gone With The Wind-type dresses covered in ruffles and lace and drink sweet tea and eat fried green tomatoes. Can she escape, or will they make a Southern belle out of her?
First line: ‘There’s a whole chapter in the Magnolia Court Orientation Handbook titled “Manners Befitting a Maid Upon Announcement of Selection to the Court.”‘
The Midnight Palace, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (298 pages) – Ben and Sheere are twins. When just wee babies in Calcutta, they were rescued from an unthinkable threat. Later, in the 1930s and on their sixteenth birthday, it reappears and so they – and a secret society of orphans – must face ‘the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces’. This book is translated from the Spanish, which suggests that it’s probably going to be quite creepy somehow (the scariest night of my life was due to a Spanish horror film. It haunts me still).
First line: ‘Shortly after midnight, a boat emerged out of the mist that rose like a fetid curse from the surface of the Hooghly River.‘
Mostly Good Girls, by Leila Sales (347 pages) – Catalogue, please: ‘Sixteen-year-olds Violet and Katie, best friends since seventh grade despite differences in their family backgrounds and abilities, are pulled apart during their junior year at Massachusetts’ exclusive Westfield School.’ “Brilliant, poignant, and straight-up hilarious,” says Lauren Oliver. “Recommend this to fans of Meg Cabot’s novels and academy-based stories,” argues Booklist. “Suggest this one to readers who enjoy the writing style of Ally Carter. A strong debut that is not be missed,” adds School Library Journal, knowingly.
First lines: ‘Poor Mr. Thompson. Mr’s Thompson is my precalc teacher, and he is also the only male at the Westfield School.‘
Payback Time, by Carl Deuker (298 pages) – Mitch wants to be a writer, so he becomes – a little reluctantly! – the sports reporter for his high school’s newspaper. The football (not soccer, or even rugby, but gridiron) team’s quarterback, Angel, is obviously really talented at his ball-handling abilities, but doesn’t appear too keen to show them on the field. And the coach never lets him anyway. What gives, Angel? What’s the story here? Mitch is determined to find out, ‘in this thriller both thought-provoking and suspenseful.’
First lines: ‘I’m going to be a famous reporter. My name – Daniel True – will be on the front page of the New York Times.’
The Anti-Prom, by Abby McDonald (280 pages) – Three girls, each somehow done a wrong by the guys who were supposed to take them to the school prom, decide to seek revenge and ‘team up for a night of rebellion, romance, and revenge.’ Sort of like Carrie but funnier and not a horror. Heh. Eh heh heh.
First lines: ‘He doesn’t kiss me like that. That’s the first thing I think when I find Kaitlin Carter getting to second base with my boyfriend in the back of our rental limo.‘
An Act of Love, by Alan Gibbons (295 pages) – When only seven-years-old, besties Chris and Imran became blood brothers. Now, eleven years later, one has joined the army and is serving in Afghanistan, and the other is a potential jihad recruit. They certainly aren’t friends anymore. ‘Will their childhood bond be strong enough to overcome an extremist plot?’
First lines: ‘you think you’re invincible when you’re a kid. Invincible, that’s a laugh.‘