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Contaminated Hardcover – July 23, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-"Contamination, not contagion," they said. When the "zombies apocalypse" happened, the zombies weren't exactly like the ones Velvet had seen in the movies. They didn't rise from their graves, weren't undead, and didn't create new ones of their kind when they attacked. Instead, they were just normal people who had tried a new sports drink that promised to help them lose weight. However, as the drink became more popular, the company was unable to keep up with demand, and they began cutting corners in the production of the active protein ingredient. Unfortunately, it took several waves of apparent zombie attacks before scientists realized that the lack of impulse control and the aggression were caused by a contamination in the bottled beverage. While Velvet's father was killed in the first wave of attacks, by the time her mother had turned, electric-shock collars had been created to manage the contaminated's aggression and return them to their families. At 16, Velvet has lived through immense horrors, and now it has fallen to her to raise her younger sister and to care for her mother, who will never fully recover. Garner's novel is a unique take on a popular genre. While there are intermittent moments of suspense, the horror elements take a backseat to Velvet's plight as she strives to provide for and protect her family.-Ryan F. Paulsen, New Rochelle High School, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

A weight-loss drug causes a zombielike disease. Supposedly a cure has been found, but the suspicion and fear left in its wake engenders political and moral conflicts about how to treat the permanently affected. Among those caught in the web is Velvet Ellis, who struggles with the ethics of taking care of her “rehabilitated” zombie mother and her 10-year-old sister in the midst of a postapocalyptic economy. As in the 2013 zombie film Warm Bodies—among others—debut author Garner focuses less on the immediate horror of a zombie invasion, and instead shifts her focus to the aftereffects that such a devastating disease would have on its victims and on America in general. This has plenty of suspense—it’s not a book to read at bedtime. But the fact that it’s not your average zombie story allows readers to reconsider the entire genre as well as the possible ramifications of our societal priorities. Grades 9-12. --Bethany Fort

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Series: Contaminated
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: EgmontUSA (July 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606843540
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606843543
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,262,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Em Garner began writing at a very young age, always preferring the stories about what goes bump in the night. An avid reader of horror, science-fiction and fantasy, she first turned her hand to short stories about the sorts of things that hide under the bed...and she kept right on going.

Now Em spends most of her time in front of her computer, writing away at all the ideas she has swirling around in her head and hoping she can get them into a story before she forgets them.

She loves zombies, unicorns, and rainbows, the color purple and the smell of roses. She hates the smell of lilies, the feeling of corduroy and biting sandpaper. (Well. Who doesn't?)

She lives at the beach with her family, where she spends a lot of time reading and sticking her feet in the sand. She is afraid of sharks, but that doesn't stop her from going in the water.

Customer Reviews

Cant wait for sequel!!!
Dominic M. Paulo
I was expecting a "zombies are everywhere" story but the change in how the zombies came to be as well as what happened afterwards kept me reading.
I loved the emphasis on family and real love.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on July 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Everyone has heard of the term "zombie apocalypse." But no one expects it to happen --- until it does. Only this time, the stakes are higher. Instead of the undead rising to feed on the living, it's living humans being turned into violent, uncontrollable --- zombie-like --- creatures.

Velvet Ellis and her younger sister witness it all. These creatures, called Connies, were just regular human beings months before, becoming contaminated by drinking a trendy diet drink called ThinPro. Velvet's mother and father both drank ThinPro; for months Velvet and Ellis live on their own in an assisted living home set up by the government to keep families away from harm and nearer to the city. Through the months that spiral by without word from their newly-turned Connie parents, new laws are passed and new technology is invented to neutralize the Connies so they will no longer be violent and uncontrollable. Another one of the newest advances are Connie kennels. Connie kennels are where the government keeps neutralized Connies, so their families may come and find them and hopefully, take them home. Velvet searches the Connie kennels everyday in hopes to find her mother. And one day she does.

However, getting her mother back comes at a cost. She must do everything within her power to keep her mother and little sister safe, which means sacrificing work, school and even her home to make a better life for her family. But one question still haunts Velvet and her sister: Will Mom ever be the same?

CONTAMINATED is a great book for anyone who doesn't want to read about zombies but wants the same thrill. The action is perfectly balanced, with a softer more emotional side to the story. For the most part, the characters were very well-developed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tez Miller on December 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
One of those author blurbs called this book a "debut". Now, far be it from me to say that a professional user of words doesn't use them correctly, I leave you with this information: Yes, this is the first book published under the name Em Garner, but that's actually a pseudonym for a New York Times Bestselling Author, and whose work I really enjoy. This is her first young adult novel, though. So overall debut, no; but in certain circumstances, yes. Actually, I was reading two books during the same period: CONTAMINATED, and one by the author's adult novels under a non-Em Garner name, and the difference in quality is so vast it's almost hard to believe they're written by the same person. I really liked the adult novel, but this YA is just...not good. I almost wish it were her debut, so we'd assume the storytelling would get better with each book. And the only reason I'll be tuning in to Book 2 is because I like the author's adult works so much.

Now onto CONTAMINATED itself. I call it a zombie novel, though I don't remember seeing the Z-word. It's like how there are vampire novels in which the V-word is never used. Anyhoo, the Contaminated (also referred to as Connies) seem at first to be an analogy for the treatment of dogs, then the elderly, then people with disabilities, and since there doesn't seem to be a particular analogy, it was probably never an analogy in the first place. My fault for thinking this was deeper than it actually is. Eejit Tez.

Look, I'm just going to refer you to the Bookistry review: [...] It describes the science-fail in this novel. You know me: I love science, and love when it's used in fiction...correctly. But when used incorrectly, that makes me rant and rave and despair. (I have issues.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maggie Knapp on September 20, 2014
Format: Paperback
Em Garner's CONTAMINATED is 4-stars worth of enjoyable reading, even if just about every twist on her world-falling-apart-as-experienced-by-teen theme has been done somewhere before. Thanks to a diet drink that turned many of the beautiful people (as well as normal folk) into murderous Contaminateds (Connies), the heroine Velvet is now taking care her little sister Opal, trying to work a job, keep Opal in school, hold onto her boyfriend and avoid dark laundry rooms where renegade Connies might lurk. After a series of brutal experiments, it appears the government has the Connies under control with lobotomies and shock collars, but society at large still fears them, so when Velvet brings her Connie mother home, the small family is evicted from their shoddy apartment and treated like dirt by many people.

What worked for me: "Mercy Mode" idea is fresh. The writing style is good. The back cover notes this is the first YA novel by an author with over 50 books for adult readers, and I did find myself reading through until the end.

What didn't work so well: Seems like the "tainted mother" aspect was done in Carrie Ryan's THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH and the disaster-wipes-out-a-good-portion-of-world-population has been done in any number of stories from A MATTER OF DAYS to THE 5th WAVE. Also, call me naive, but I have more faith in my fellow humans than to think we would house humans in kennels, feed them dog treats and call them "it" when there is a clearly an infection responsible.

About me: I'm a middle school/high school librarian
How I got this book: Advance reading copy sent by the publisher
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