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The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters: A Young Adult Zombie Novel Paperback – August 11, 2010
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"It will be very difficult for the reader to keep from finishing the story in a single sitting. "Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters" will be virtually impossible to put down."
--Living Dead Media
About the Author
Rhiannon Frater works and lives in Austin, Texas. She loves reading, movies, gaming, and hanging out with friends and family when she's not tapping away at her computer on her latest story. She is the author of the As The World Dies Zombie Trilogy that was originally self published but was later picked up by Tor to be published in 2011. She is also the author of the modern day vampire novel, Pretty When She Dies and the gothic horror novel, The Tale on the Vampire Bride.
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Josh is just a regular kid with a zombie obsession. He fights with his little brother, complains about chores, and plays in a treehouse with his friends. His home situation isn't the best. His father went to war and came back a changed person. He's struggling to find work, leaving his mother to support most of the finances by herself. Josh has many more responsibilities than he used to because his family needs help. Like a typical twelve year old boy, he complains, fights with his brother, and shirks his duties. When the zombie apocalypse hits, he grows up fast. He realizes he has to step up and make hard decisions to protect his family.
I love Rhiannon Frater's As the World Dies series which is targeted more for adults. I was worried that she would reign in the zombie violence too much for a younger audience, but she didn't. Josh's perspective focuses on the difference between being a zombie fan, enjoying zombie stories and the harrowing experience of seeing people you know being turned into zombie or being eaten by zombies. Emergency situations bring out the best and worst in humanity. Josh steps up to save as many as he can, but he sees some people acting deplorably, not saving the weak or vulnerable and only looking out for themselves. Others can't handle reality at all and refuse to accept it, leading to sometimes fatal consequences.
The Living Dead Boy is fast paced and exciting. It's similar in a lot of ways to Sick by Tom Leveen, but faster paced, much more zombie violence, and younger characters. I only had some small criticisms. The title and cover made me thing this would be about a zombie child and it wasn't. Also, the ending felt a little false in that it was too perfect. I hope for this part to be resolved soon since Rhiannon Frater is currently writing the sequel.
Normally, I have serious doubts about younger characters rising to the occasion...I mean,a lot of kids can't seem to keep their rooms clean - how can they be expected to handle a zombie outbreak? However, Frater does a fantastic job orchestrating a believable outbreak at a school in Texas, and the kids, with all their hang-ups, prove that age has nothing to do with using common sense. The contrast between the children and the adults adds the right amount of drama to the setting as well.
Even if you're not into the zombie genre, I recommend this series. It's not just a story about survival, it's also a coming of age story about the key relationships that transform each child.
Rhiannon has created a genuinely scary tale, keeping her characters in constant, believable peril the entire time. Even at the end, when everything looks to be going well, you just KNOW something is off. (And it is - grab Lost in Texas, the second book, to find out what's wrong.) I can't stress enough how believably scary this book is. The only people who know what's going on are Josh and his Zombie Hunters Club, but that's because of the sheer amount of zombie literature and movies they've devoured. However, the adults are slow to catch on, and slower to listen. Which has disastrous consequences for everyone involved.
The Living Dead Boy is a very fast-paced and satisfying read. Do yourself a favor and snag it.
Regarding the writing, the narration is excessive, with so much of the story TOLD to the reader by the narrator. Internal monologue should mirror the narrative style (which is third person past tense.) The switches to first person, present tense italicized text kills the fictional dream and served to further distance me from the main character.
This author needs to take some writing classes in order to learn how to weed out the overwriting, the stilted dialogue, and the instances of narrative intrusion. A critique group would also help with this. Ideally, a professional editor should be employed to identify and eliminate the places where the story wanders, where the pace slows, and where the writing descends into amateurish drivel.
I downloaded this as a free book. Thank goodness. I'd have hated to waste money on it. As a free book, it is okay. Don't waste your money on it, though. I won't be buying part two.
There is a bonus story at the end too which I thought was very clever! Keep up the great work Rhiannon!