Tuesday, July 13, 2010
by Daniel Waters
Phoebe is just your typical goth girl with a crush. He's strong, and silent, and dead.
All over the country, a strange phenomenon is happening. Some teenagers who die aren't staying dead. They are coming back to life, but they are no longer the same - they stutter, and their reactions to everything are slower. Termed "living impaired" or "differently biotic," they are doing their best to fit into a society that doesn't want them.
Fitting in is hard enough when you don't have the look or attitude, but when almost everyone else is alive and you're not, it's close to impossible. The kids at Oakvale High don't want to take classes or eat in the cafeteria next to someone who isn't breathing. And there are no laws that exist to protect the differently biotic from the people who want them to disappear - for good.
With her pale skin and Goth wardrobe, Phoebe has never run with the popular crowd. But no one can believe it when she falls for Tommy Williams, the leader of the dead kids. Not her best friend, Margi, whose fear of the differently biotic is deeply rooted in guilt over the past. And especially not her neighbor, Adam, the star of the football team. Adam has just realized his feelings for Phoebe run much deeper than just friendship. He would do anything for her, but what if protecting Tommy is the one thing that would make her happy? (description taken from Amazon.com)
This was a really well written book. It's a cool concept. Teenagers, just in the US (and a few in Canada) coming back as zombies. I loved reading the different potential explainations for the phenomenon, especially when Tommy finally tells Phoebe why he thinks that different zombies are able to be more highly functioning. Waters is able to present this topic in a humorous way, while still exploring some deeper emotions.
In fact, racism and discrimination are HUGE topics in this book. Yet, it's done in such a way that it's touching and the reader becomes invested in the characters and so it doesn't have that overwhelming heavy feeling that can totally ruin a book with its overarching concept. Waters presents not only the evidence that zombies are being murdered because they are "unnatural," but also allows readers to see how easily "traditionally biotics" can grow to hate.
There are degrees of fear and hatred shown, from Margi's fear derived from guilt over her friend's death, to Adam and Phoebe's mild fears of the unknown, to Pete's overwhelming, unrelenting, and unreasonable hate...that leads to some atrocious plans. What really struck me about this book was that it also showed the fear and hate that builds on the receiving end of this kind of racism. Several of the zombies are afraid to interact with "trads" for fear of being hurt. There is a moment when Adam and one of the zombies, Karen, connect and he kisses her cheek - she is overcome by the fact that he did it...like she was any other girl. Honestly, that was my favorite moment in the whole book!
There were moments when I felt like this book sort of dragged for me, but each time I thought about maybe, just maybe taking a break, two pages later one of the excellently drawn characters sucked me right back in! I loved Karen, Evan, Thorny, and Adam...
There was quite a bit of foreshadowing in this book, and I like where it's leading. Then with the big twist at the end....I will definitely be reading Kiss of Life very shortly!!