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Zombie Blondes: Brian James

Book: Zombie Blondes
Author: Brian James
Pages: 240
Age Range: 13 and up

Zombie BlondesWho can resist a book titled Zombie Blondes? And just look at the cover - it's utterly captivating. Zombie Blondes starts out with a bit of a cliched feeling (very similar to the start of How NOT to Be Popular, which I read recently), but soon reveals Brian James' originality. Hannah Sanders and her father drive their beat-up car to a worn out house in a decaying New England town. Hannah sizes up the popular kids at her new high school, based on the experience she's gained from attending school after school over the past six years. She takes particular note of a clique of beautiful blond cheerleaders who rule the school. Soon, however, Hannah starts receiving hints that these are not just any old popular kids, and that their perfection hides a deadly secret. But the quest for popularity reels Hannah in, despite her misgivings. To what lengths will she go to belong? Will she give up life for perfection?

I found that I sympathize with Hannah, even when she was making obvious mistakes. She's lonely, after moving so often. She resents her father for the moves, and for often having to leave her alone in the house, and yet she loves him, too. Here are a couple of windows into Hannah's thoughts:

"If high school were like little kids on the playground, I'd be the little kid sitting on the swings all by herself. That's who I am. Always the girl who doesn't quite fit in. It's not because I'm weird or because I want to be an outsider. It's just that being the kid who moves to town, I've always missed the start of the game and by the time I get there, they don't need anyone else to play." (Page 57)

"Lying on my bed, I stare out the window and try to think of something else. Anything else. And the blue sky brings me back to them. The clear eyes of the girls everybody in Maplecrest loves. And maybe it's not such a bad idea after all to be like them." (Page 60)

"One thing I've learned from my dad is that avoiding confrontation is the best way to hang on to false hope. Like the way moving from town to town to avoid debt collectors allows us to pretend everything's okay once we reach the next home. Problem erased as if it never happened." (Page 92)

So, ok, her dad is kind of a loser. This is necessary to Hannah's isolation, which is necessary to the whole zombie plot. As to the plot, I thought that there were some loopholes to the zombie cheerleaders story. Like, where did the first zombie come from? Why are the zombies beautiful? How come some people are killed, while others become zombies? Etc...

And yet, I found the book a fun romp through zombie-cheerleader land. It's an entertaining juxtaposition of the quest for popularity against a classic horror scenario. The climax is dramatic and over-the-top, with just the right note of sacrifice. I can visualize Zombie Blondes as a movie. And, in fact, I dreamed about zombies the night after I finished the book. I would try this book on fans of the Twilight books, the Uglies books, and the Alien movies. Plus it looks amazing on the shelf, so I think that libraries and home collections alike will benefit from having a copy. This one is definitely worth checking out.

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: June 24, 2008
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
Other Blog Reviews: Frenetic Reader, Becky's Book Reviews, YA New York, Karin Librarian
Author Interviews: Cynsations

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.