Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pants on Fire for The Printzs

So I just lied in my facebook status and said that I read all the Printz honorees. Just between you and me - I read as much of the honorees as I could stand and then moved on.

 Well, okay, I read the first 20 or so pages of SHIP BREAKER and decided to save it for a treat. Because it is awesome and I know that I am going to fall into it to the expense of everything else in my life.

I read the first 10 pages of REVOLVER and started shivering and decided we were just going to be two ships that pass in the night.

I read the first 30 pages of GIRL STOLEN and started hyperventilating and had to stop. But I will totally pretend like I read it and use the phrase "FREAKED ME THE HELL OUT!" when describing it to students. Because it was good, but a little too good.

I read the jacket copy of NOTHING and didn't even bother. Yes, I am the worst librarian ever. But seriously, I know what I am going to loathe and it is usually translated from the Danish.

Which leads me to those I adore beyond reason.

If I were still in my baby-making years, this book would make the name Vera leap to the top of the list. Vera is self aware, a hard worker, a quiet bad-ass (like Harry Potter!) and a loyal friend - until she just can't be anymore. Her relationship with her Dad is inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time. Her blossoming relationship with her just-a-little-too-much-older co-worker is realistic in its depiction of how smart, aware kids can sometimes just toss caution to the wind.  And her relationship to her dead best friend is spooky and loving and full of regret.

It just occurred to me that there are ghosts in this book! Usually ghosts are a deal-breaker for me. (not unlike the Scandinavians) Occasionally I will allow them in specific circumstances - Richard Peck and A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT by Laura Whitcomb. And they kind of have to be the point of the book. I don't stand for haunting, usually. But the way A.S.King (greatest use of initials EVER! And it's her real name!) uses the hundreds and thousands of cellophane Charlies never makes it clear if they are real or Vera's conscience. Perhaps that is a spoiler. But I don't care - you should read this book anyway. It is magic.

Here was a surprise. I almost put this one in the NOTHING catagory. Zombies? I am a middle aged lady, for heaven's sake. But my older son is a zombie freak and I though, "Well, maybe if I read it and then he reads it we will have something to talk about..."

Well I started reading and it started charming me right away. There was a little gore (toddler loses his parents when zombies rise up and society collapses in two pages), but for the most part it was two 14 year olds looking for a job in a post-apocalyptic mountain town in California. The jobs were more corpse-shoveler than McDonald's counter help, but the attitude was the same. These were real teenagers in a weird, weird world.

Our protagonist Benny realizes that he just might end up having to go into the family business with his older brother Tom (my new fictional boyfriend) - zombie killing.

This book is not at all what I thought it would be. It is full of action and gore and I really was disturbed by some parts, but the writing is clear and real and the characters are not cliches. Well, the bad guys tend to veer in that direction a bit, but it is understandable.

The most remarkable thing is the discussion of the zombies. I am so used to Left4Dead and ZOMBIELAND and now THE WALKING DEAD (which is awesome, but I will now be watching with a different eye...) that the way Maberry and his characters look at them came completely out of left field. "They were like gravestones, using their own flesh to mark where they had died and where they would spend eternity. Not buried in a box, but trapped in decaying tissue that could move, that would hunt and attack, but that, in the absence of something that would attract it, would remain in place forever. The thought was as horrible as it was sad." Heartbreaking! And even thought the zombies are a terrifying danger, they aren't the worst of it.

I did get a little nervous when Tom and Benny decide to go rescue some girls. Fear not, sisters of my feminist heart, those girls kick incredible butt and what gets saved is hope. Okay, that was a lame sentence, but I have to tell you - I loved this book so much I am not even going to edit my purple prose. Well done, Nix and Lilah. Well done Imura brothers. Well done Jonathan Maberry!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So glad you enjoyed ROT & RUIN.

A funny thing happened on the way to writing a visceral zombie novel... I discovered that there was a lot more story to tell than the living dead eating people. The story changed in the writing and became about hope, the value of human life, and empowerment. Who know?

My publisher's been calling it the 'zombie novel with heart' and recently Charlaine Harris recently blogged about it and remarked: "his is anything but another zombie novel."

There are thirteen pages of free prequel scenes for ROT & RUIN available on the Simon & Schuster webpage for the book. Here’s a link to the main page; access the scenes by clicking on the banner that reads: READ BONUS MATERIAL BY JONATHAN MABERRY:

Benny Imura and his friends will return in DUST & DECAY (summer, 2011) and at least two more books beyond that (FLESH & BONE and FIRE & ASH).

Happy reading!