January 3, 2013

Review: Dead City by James Ponti

Title: Dead City
Author: James Ponti

The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins says this paranormal action-adventure “breathes new life into the zombie genre” and has “a terrific twist of an ending.”

Most kids have enough to deal with between school, homework, extracurricular activities, and friends, but Molly Bigelow has something else on her list: hunting zombies. By day, Molly attends MIST—the Metropolitan Institute of Science and Technology—but outside the classroom she’s busy dealing with the undead. Because not only do zombies exist, they’re everywhere, and it’s her job to help police them and keep the peace. Sure, she’d like to be a regular kid, but given that her mother was the most revered (or feared, depending on your perspective) zombie hunter in the history of New York City, “regular” just isn’t possible. Molly’s got some legendary footsteps to follow—and some undeadly consequences if she fails.

What a fun book! I love zombie books, I really do.  So when I found a middle grade zombie book I had to check it out. Plus the blurb on the cover from Suzanne Collins also made me interested and curious.  I so glad I picked this book up.  I really think my middle graders will enjoy this book.

First - because it's middle grade it is not your bloody gory zombie book.  BUT that doesn't mean it doesn't have plenty of action, zombie bahavior and age appropriate gore.  It's just done in a way that makes it really easy to hand it off to one of my students without worry that it's going to cause them nightmares!

Ok the story.  I love Molly the main characters.  She's smart (very smart and I LOVED that) and determined but still has all those characteristics that made her a middle schooler.  She worries about popularity and being picked on, but doesn't care enough to stop her from doing what she knows she needs to do.  Although there were times I wished she wouldn't have done what she did! If I was her parent I'd be so mad at her!  Speaking of parents - Molly's mom had recently passed away from cancer.  The way this was handled in the book was well done.  It wasn't overplayed or used just to advance the story.  How Molly and her family were coping with it seemed very realistic, and I liked that.

The pace of the story was pretty good.  It did speed up in towards the end with a few leaps and bounds, but not to the point where it seemed realstic.  Well as realistic as it could seem considering Molly and her friends are charged with fighting and protecting New York from the zombies!  The action pulled me along well.  I didn't find myself overly bored - letting me finish it quit quickly.

About those zombie - they aren't the stereotypical zombies.  In this book there are 3 levels from almost normal to the more typical zombie that can't communicate and is only out to get people.  I found that to be an interesting way to create these zombie.  Instead of all zombies being unfeeling almost mechnical creatures, some of ones in this book have a heart!  It played well into the plot, and it also made a bit more tension because you never know if it's a zombie you can trust.

Oh and the ending - watch out!!!!! Nuff said there :)

Final thought:  Great take on zombies for the MG set
Best stick-with-you image:  The ending
Best for readers who:  Like action and zombie
Best for Ages: 9-13

For the Guys? Yup even though the main character is a girl.  I think the guys could enjoy it.

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