Starting high school is never easy, but it’s especially tough for Jeremy Barker whose mother is addicted to pills, whose brother is a lazy, self-centered jerk, and whose father disappears at night without any explanation of what he is up to or where he is going. While snooping in his father’s office, Jeremy comes across a homemade video of a bizarre, cult-like surgical procedure and has to use the Zombie Apocalypse Survival Codes he has made up to figure out not only the origin of the movie, but what his father is up to.
I like to consider myself a fan of zombie movies and books. I find the idea of a zombie apocalypse fascinating but frightening as well. However, my biggest problem with Zombie was that I don’t think the author fully established what he was trying to do in writing this book. What I believe J.R. Angelella was trying to do was take the zombie codes of conduct that Jeremy had created for himself to get through every day life and combine it with references from a bunch of zombie films to show how obsessed this kid is with zombies. But I found that it felt forced and that it didn’t work well, probably because he wasn’t living in a zombie apocalypse. I personally think Angelella focused on the wrong part of the story. I felt he was trying to keep the zombie stuff in the forefront, which led to the main plot being buried. There were several times where I wondered what the main plot even was until it was more focused on more toward the end. If he had focused on the main plot and had the zombie stuff more as a subplot/reference to Jeremy’s character it would have worked better, but instead I thought the story felt disjointed.
Now, Zombie wasn’t completely terrible. I made it through the book because the overall writing was good and because I was generally curious to see what would happen at the end. But beyond that I found the characters flat and felt they were all too similar to each other. I think Mykel and Zink could’ve made great characters if they were expanded on more, and I also feel Aimee White was underused in the story.
Honestly, I probably wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone, but if I had to pick an audience, I would say most teenage boys and some teenage girls may find this interesting. But I definitely would not recommend for a younger audience due to strong language and the description of gruesome cult-like surgical procedures.