“The boy on the bridge” M.R. Carey

Rated 4 stars **** ebook. Orbit (Hachette Book Group). 2017.

The boy on the bridgeA group of 12 scientists and soldiers set out from the last city left in Great Britain in an armored research vehicle, nicknamed Rosie, tasked with searching for specimens that had been left behind a year earlier by another group of scientists. They’re hopeful that also sampling “hungries” on the journey will help them find a cure for Cordyceps, a disease that has turned almost everyone on earth into “hungries,” zombies who seek anything alive. Time is of the essence or mankind, as they know it, will disappear.

Stephen Greaves is a fifteen-year-old genius autistic brought onto the trip by his mentor. On one of Rosie’s stops he notices a child who eats like a hungry but acts and thinks like a human. He slips out to look for her in the nearest town, and finds a band of them. The next day his plan to study them is interrupted when a child is killed by one of Rosie’s soldiers, who is also killed. Stephen takes the body and hides it aboard Rosie. Soon Stephen makes an incredible discovery, but the band of hungry children start tracking Rosie through the wilderness. He knows they want the body and will do anything for its return.

This book was written after “The girl with all the gifts,” and is supposed to be its predecessor. There are a few things explained from “The girl” that were a little questionable, but “The boy” left its own set of unanswered questions. I’m wondering if the author is planning on doing a part 3. I liked “The boy” more than “The girl” because Stephen was a strong character and made me feel more involved in the storyline. However I still have questions about the time span between the two books, and what happened in those years to make Dr. Caldwell decide to study the children.

Despite this, I will go ahead and recommend it for Adults.

“The girl with all the gifts” M.R. Carey

Rated 3 stars *** 2015. Orbit (Hatchette). 431 p. (Includes “Interview [with the author],” “Reading group guide,” and a chapter from an upcoming book.)

The girl with all the giftsA strange type of spore has invaded the world, changing most of the population into zombies. Mindless “hungries” are left to wander the ruined land seeking blood. There are just a few pockets of normal civilizations, who shut themselves behind barricaded walls guarded by soldiers. Ten-year-old Melanie has grown up in such a place with other children, strapped into wheelchairs by soldiers for school, and kept in cells at all other times. Her mind is eager for knowledge, and she longs for the times when Miss Justineau, her favorite teacher, visits the classroom.

After hungries attack her secure area, Melanie, Miss Justineau, an evil doctor and two soldiers are left to make their way South towards one of the only remaining civilizations left in Great Britain knowing that hungries lie in wait on every crumbled street in every forsaken city. It is the ingenuity of little Melanie, and the love she has for her teacher, which powers the book towards its inevitable ending. I wasn’t a fan of that ending, but it seemed to make the most sense given everything else that happened in the book.

At first I was bored, and couldn’t get into the book. It wasn’t until the hungries invaded that I became more invested. Though it had a slow start it raised a lot of thinking about what happens when an Apocalypse occurs, but it also left quite a few unanswered questions. The Q & A with the author at the end was very enlightening.

I recommend this book for Adults.

“Zombies don’t eat veggies!”by Megan Lacera and Jorge Lacera

Rated 5 stars ***** 2019. Children’s Book Press.

Zombies don't eat veggiesMo is a zombie but, unlike his parents, he doesn’t want to eat people. Though he likes chasing them in marathons, and cheering his father on in brain eating contests, his love is for vegetables.

Since his parents dislike vegetables, they refuse to serve it at meals, so Mo grows his in a secret garden. He also has a secret kitchen where he whips up delicious meals made entirely of vegetables. He tries to get his parents to eat tomato soup, but it’s a failure. However when they insist that zombies don’t eat veggies Mo gathers the courage to tell them that he’s eats vegetables and, though he’s different, he’s still their son. His parents accept him as he is, because they love him, and they grow together as a family.

This delightful picture book, with full page, color illustrations, shows the importance of accepting differences. No matter what those differences may be, love should always be the binding ingredient of families. The play on words with zombie foods such as “dori-toes,” “arm-panadas” and “finger foods, “ among others, is very creative.

Includes three recipes.

Highly recommended for ages 5-8.

I received a copy of this book from Lee & Low in exchange for an honest review.

“Every other day” Jennifer Lynn Barnes

2012. Egmont. 329 pp.

EveryOtherDayKali has a very strange life. For 24 hours she is a normal high school girl, without any friends, with a father who barely acknowledges her existence, and with tiny memories of a mother who disappeared when she was 3 years old. That life disappears in the next 24 hours when she becomes an invincible hunter, killing zombies, hellhounds and other creatures of the night and instantly healing from any wound or broken body part.

This strange half life has been hers to bear alone since the age of twelve and, having never dared let anyone in on her secret double life, Kali has no idea why she is cursed with this kind of existence.

One day Kali meets Skylar, the school outcast, who draws her out of her morbid thoughts and makes her laugh. Kali thinks she could finally have a semblance of a normal life, but everything changes when she finds an ouroboros symbol on Bethany, the head cheerleader’s, back. Everyone knows an ouroboros symbol means a blood sucking chupacabra has resided in that person and they will soon die.

Kali is trained to protect humans from predators, so she does the first thing she can think of – she entices the chupacabra into her own body. Once it does it is only a matter of time before Kali, Skylar and Bethany find themselves in the midst of a  frantic race against the clock to rid Kali of the chupacabra before her 24 hours lapse and she becomes a helpless, and dead, human.

It was very, very difficult for me to suspend my disbelief to make it through “Every other day.” Barnes went overboard to include all types of paranormal, nightmarish and mythological creatures in it, and worked overtime to make her 12-16 year old readers believe these creatures are all normal and acceptable parts of Kali’s society. In addition to finding it too fantastical, I also didn’t like the way it ended. Even though it’s not supposed to be part of a series, I have a feeling Barnes is angling for it to become one.

Thus, I will leave it up to you to decide whether you want to Read It or Not.

“Half Lives” Sara Grant

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published July 9, 2013. Little, Brown and Company. 392 pp. Includes “Author’s Note.”

HalfLives17-year-old Icie’s parents worked for the government, and had advance knowledge of a terrorist threat to unleash a deadly virus on the world. They make plans to send Icie to a nuclear waste bunker in Vegas so she can survive. Unfortunately her parents are arrested, so Icie is left on her own. On the plane she meets Marissa, a perky cheerleader, who becomes her sole companion. As they trudge through the desert they find Tate, a young boy who wants to be a rock star but was abandoned and left for dead. Finally, they meet Chaske a very handsome Native American teen who has deep secrets he won’t divulge. They seal themselves inside the bunker to avoid contamination…

Generations pass. A small group of survivors from Before have survived in the village of Forreal. Terrified that Terrorists will find their hiding place, the group of Cheerleaders and Rock Stars are determined to protect their mountain and way of life. As they and their leader Beckett look out at Vega, they are reminded that their god, the Great I AM, will protect them from the dangers that lie Out There. Greta, a Survivor, finds her way to the mountain from Vega. Could she be a sign from the Great I AM? Is she a Terrorist? Only time will tell…

In alternate chapters, Grant tells Beckett’s and Icie’s stories. I understood the author’s mindset of using words from popular culture to make her point of showing how people in a cult blindly follow what they don’t understand, but I did mind that she’d used “I Am,” an actual Biblical name, for the cult’s god. Surely she had to know it’s the real name used for God in the Christian Bible. Every time I read it I was reminded that this is America and everyone has free speech, but I know if she had used a certain Muslim god’s name for the book’s god instead of a Christian god’s name then all h**l would have broken loose. Ah America!

Students aged 14 and older will have some deep thinking to do as they read, especially in the area of learning about nuclear waste and its longterm repercussions on the world.

“Beautiful Decay” Sylvia Lewis

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). To be published April 2, 2013, Running Press Teens. 303 pp.

Beautiful DecayHere I am in chilly and rainy Seattle for the ALA’s (American Library Association’s) 2013 Midwinter Meeting. Yesterday was my first chance to go to the Exhibit Hall and get a bunch of ARC’s. So far, I’ve mailed 3 boxes of them home to myself.

“Beautiful Decay” was the first ARC in the bunch that I kept to read, and it was a-ma-zing! Ellie has an unusual gift. Everything she touches turns to mold, a beautiful, colorful type complete with mushrooms. Because of this, she spends her life hiding from people and wearing gloves, fearful of causing sickness and death. Her own mother is terrified of her, constantly washing the house with bleach and avoiding her, while her father is never home. Having a normal high school life is impossible, especially with being called nicknames like “Typhoid Mary,” and having her classmates and teachers avoid her at all costs. Her only friend is Mackenzie, a person she met online.

When Nate, a new student, comes to school he seems to immediately have a connection with Ellie. He’s not afraid of being hurt by her mold-producing touch, and seems to actually like her. Ellie is confused, but her confusion knows no bounds when Nate admits to being a Necromancer. He can raise the dead, and even has a zombie mother as proof. Ellie is curious about her power, especially when she finds out there are more people like her out in the world. Unfortunately, a group of Necromancers aren’t happy Nate won’t use his powers for their pleasure and have been hunting him down. A battle between good and evil is brewing. Nate, Ellie and Mackenzie some find themselves smack in the middle of the action.

I had just started reading “Beautiful Decay” last night, but found it so compelling I couldn’t put it down. Readers, ages 14 and up will be just as spellbound. Its ending was a bit open ended, so I won’t be surprised if Lewis has a sequel planned.

“The Infects” Sean Beaudoin

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). To be published September 25, 2012. Candlewick Press. 353 pp.

Nick and several other juvenile delinquents were sentenced to march up a mountain as part of their punishment. Sometime during the night, they were attacked by zombies and forced to flee. While on their mad rush through the woods seeking relief from the hordes of zombies who had miraculously appeared to eat them, several of their number died bloody, horrific deaths at the hands of the zombies. The survivors finally reach an abandoned lodge at the top of the mountain and seek shelter but, the zombies have no plan to let them escape. They are surrounded.

While presumably a novel about zombies, referred to as “Infects,” Beaudoin has us believe they all got infected from eating bad chicken nuggets which causes their zombie-like behavior. With a theory like that, along with much rambling on the part of the narrator, and too many flashbacks to count, the book went straight downhill in my estimation.

Despite a cool looking cover, I have never read a weirder book than “The Infects,” and don’t recommend anyone else waste their time with it. However, I leave the decision up to you as to whether you really want to Read It or Not. I’d suggest Not.