Thursday, October 15, 2009

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Title: Generation Dead
Author:  Daniel Waters
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Hardcover, 400 pages
Release Date: May 6, 2008

Description (Taken from Amazon)
Phoebe is just your typical goth girl with a crush.  He's strong and silent.and dead.

All over the country, a strange phenomenon is happening.  Some teenagers who die aren't staying dead.  They are coming back to life, but they are no longer the same-they stutter, and their reactions to everything are slower.   Termed "living impaired" or "differently biotic," they are doing their best to fit into a society that doesn't want them. 

Fitting in is hard enough when you don't have the look or attitude, but when almost everyone else is alive and
you're not, it's close to impossible.   The kids at Oakvale High don't want to take classes or eat in the cafeteria next to someone who isn't breathing.  And there are no laws that exist to protect the differently biotic from the people who want them to disappear-for good. 

With her pale skin and Goth wardrobe, Phoebe has never run with the popular crowd.  But no one can believe it when she falls for Tommy Williams, the leader of the dead kids.  Not her best friend, Margi, whose fear of the differently biotic is deeply rooted in guilt over the past.  And especially not her neighbor, Adam, the star of the football team.  Adam has just realized his feelings for Phoebe run much deeper than just friendship. He would do anything for her, but what if protecting Tommy is the one thing that would make her happy?   

I picked up Generation Dead by Daniel Waters about a year ago, but I just got around to reading it. The cover was the first thing that drew me in and I’m glad I finally cracked it open.

Generation Dead is Daniel Waters’ first YA novel, but you wouldn’t know that by reading it. He did a very good job crafting a witty, funny, and sometimes saddening story about kids who die, but don’t stay dead. The kids come back as zombies (or differently biotic).

The YA genre is bountiful with stories about zombies, but Generation Dead is handled in different way. Phoebe is the main character in this zombie-ridden story. I found it kind of funny and ironic that in a school that has more zombie kids than most others, Phoebe insists on keeping her Goth look. At least she stays true to herself. Her best friend Margi, is quite similar to Phoebe, but she is extremely wary of the zombie kids. Adam Layman, Phoebe’s good friend and popular jock, plays the role of the oft ignored, but completely lovesick guy friend, but that didn’t bother me. I actually enjoyed his character more than Tommy Williams, the zombie that Phoebe has undetermined ‘feelings’ for.

I enjoyed the book, but I noticed that the clichéd high school cliques are present throughout the novel. Adam is a jock and Phoebe is a goth chick. They are very close friends, but at the start of the novel, Adam won’t even acknowledge her at school. Aside from that, Phoebe is sympathetic towards the outsider zombies and she even begins to develop feelings for one. At the same time, she is completely oblivious to the fact that Adam has more than friendly feelings for her. Margi is the bright light within the book. She is unique in her feelings towards the zombies because she has a legitimate reason to feel the way she does. Oakvale High School attempts to integrate the zombie students with the regular students through a special program that the aforementioned characters all join. It is through the program that the plot advances.

Generation Dead is peppered with interesting characters and the stories about some of the zombie students deaths can be upsetting. I found Collette to be the most heartbreaking of the bunch. I liked this new spin on zombies and I’m interested to see where the story goes from here. Hopefully we get to know why these kids are coming back and why it’s only happening to kids in America. I also hope the sequel delves more into the school program and the research they are doing because it seems like there could be something nefarious going on behind the scenes.

One thing that did start to bother me after a while was the pauses in speech that the zombies had. It’s only a tiny aspect of the novel, but the constant use of ellipsis just aggravated me after a while. The premise was also somewhat predictable, but the writing, storytelling, and the more interesting characters are strong enough to make up for that. The last 100 pages or so really had me hooked. It amazes me how some of the teens act in Generation Dead and the ending is certainly not an exception.

Generation Dead was a good read. Not the best thing I’ve ever read, but worthy of buying. There’s already a follow-up out titled Kiss of Life. I haven’t read that one yet, but I’ll be picking it up soon. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens after such an explosive ending in Generation Dead.
3.5
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it

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