Zombie Youth: Playground Politics highlights a different perspective in the zombie genre. Often times when we read zombie fiction, the story revolves around the survival of adults in the ruins of an apocalypse. There isn’t much mention of how children fare in the wake of a zombie outbreak. Zombie Youth focuses on the experiences and ordeals of a group of teens holed up in their Montville School.
The novel starts out highlighting Sam, a high school teen, and Alice, his secret crush. At some point throughout the day, something happens to almost all of the adults that turn them into ravenous zombies. Ms. Koslov, the Russian gym teacher, Hector, the Peruvian janitor and Elsie the lunch monitor seem to be the only adults unaffected by the virus. Ms. Koslov, Hector and a small group of surviving teens clear out the school and make a plan for long term survival which includes acquiring vehicles to scavenge for supplies and search for survivors. They come across a few survivors on the school grounds and on a scavenging mission, rescue a few military men left on a rooftop. The few adults and the remaining students create some semblance of a routine, safety defenses, and a cache of food and medical supplies. They are just trying to survive when a group of radical religious members from The Pillar of Zion Communal Church threaten their survival. The group must fight for their lives, and the zombies are the least of their worries!
H. E. Goodhue wrote Zombie Youth: Playground Politics as both an Adult and Young Adult read. It doesn’t have a lot of the blood and gore found in some zombie novels, but it’s also not written at a juvenile level. The book is very well written and has smooth transitions from one situation to the next. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. While I usually have the opinion that a young adult book cannot also carry an adult rating (because of content and general topics of interest), Goodhue has proved me wrong – well, in this author’s case anyway. What I found interesting was Goodhue didn’t just stick with the “regular” zombie, but also added in additional monster type super zombies. It was slightly “Resident Evil-esque” but creative in its own way as well. It definitely added a different twist to the traditional, and created additional complications for the survivors to get past. Looking past the zombies, the church group adds another dimension to the story in which the school survivors must face. Although parts of the church confrontation were a little predictable, I liked the additional story line and I think it adds an alternate way of thinking about the zombies that I don’t think I’ve read before. The epilogue was also kind of predictable but left the story line open to a sequel.
There were very few negatives for me to comment on, and the negatives that I did have were very minor. The first thing I noticed was the number of characters. There were so many characters that I couldn’t remember who was who. You’re introduced to six characters in the first fifteen pages, and that’s not even a third of the characters in the book. Many of the characters play a front role, so trying to remember who was who got a bit confusing. The second gripe I had was the fact that not a single character died. Really? Come on, young adult rating or not, it’s still a zombie apocalypse, and people die. Especially a main character! I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but at a few points I really thought we were losing a few main characters, but miraculously, they somehow managed to pull through. Honestly, I cannot say anything else negative about the book because there really isn’t! Overall, Zombie Youth is a good read. It adds a refreshing, youthful aura to the zombie genre that I haven’t had the opportunity to read before.
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