Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Review: Generation Dead

Title Generation Dead (Book #1 in the Generation Dead Series)
Author Daniel Waters
Genre YA Science Fiction
Category Paranormal Romance
Rating C-

Summary Teens all over the United States are waking up from the dead as zombies, but not as the eat-your-brain-type zombies, more along the lines of we-talk-and-walk-slow-but-we-can-go-to-school-with-you-type zombies. Phobe (a not-zombie goth) starts to develop a deep relationship with undead student Tommy Williams, which draws the ire of fellow "blood bag" students who don't support zombie rights.

First Line "Phoebe and her friends held their breath as the dead girl in the plaid skirt walked past their table in the lunchroom."

Review Let me just put it out there, the reason I bought this book was because the back flap contained an excerpt from the Kirkus starred review that stated, "Stephenie Meyer meets John Green in debut author Waters's wry, original supernatural romance..." That got me to pick up the book because 1) I tend to like John Green's writing (more often than not); and 2) I am on the lookout for paranormal romance that isn't campy Twilight-y stuff and I wanted to see if this met that criteria (I put stock in the fact that this involved zombies and was written by a guy as indicators that it might not be too purple). I read the opening pages, which were okay, and I decided to take the $9 plunge to buy this book in paperback.

Unfortunately, for me, this book fell short of my John Green and anti-Twilight expectations. There were good things about the book (more on that later), but most of it wasn't that great. First off, Waters's writing was stilted and pretty boring. There wasn't any gripping action or moving poetry in his stylings that kept you glued to the page. This was Waters's first novel, so I'm going to hold out and hope that things improve as time goes along.

Second off, the paranormal romance was cut out of a tired mold. Tommy Williams had a hard, cold body, he was a gentleman, and he's undead. Sounds like another character in the long-line of mythical boyfriends that are making the rounds in YA paranormal romance these days (and let's be honest, adult paranormal romance is pretty much the same stuff). The one original thing about Tommy comes out in pages 380-381 where you discover that there are underlying motivations behind Tommy's "feelings" for Phoebe that were complex and interesting. Unfortunately, other events halt Tommy and Phoebe's conversation, so those issues aren't resolved, but I'm sure this will come up later in the series (fingers crossed that we'll get to revisit Tommy's motivations and see if he's as "pure" as he was made out to be).

Now for the good stuff...

First, as said before, there is the potential for some interesting developments in the character of Tommy. Is he all good or does he have some selfishness underneath that hard, cold exterior? There's also some interesting opportunities for narration from Adam (Phoebe's all-American nextdoor neighbor who takes a bullet for her and comes back as a zombie). The first couple of chapters of Book #2 in the series were in the back of this book, and the chapter from Adam's POV is interesting to read--the zombie mindset is a unique "voice" to read.

Also, there are other issues being examined in this book besides just "paranormal romance." Waters is using zombies as a metaphor for something else... he mentions the rights of illegal aliens, but could it also be same-sex marriage or some other hot-button political issue? I think so. I also think that presenting the idea of equal rights inside this "zombie book" was a something I hadn't seen done before. Kudos to him.

In summary, this book was not a very good read, but there was just enough potential for development for me to commit to reading the next book in the series, Kiss of Life. (I'll just wait until it's in paperback.)

Recommendation People who are looking for an extension of their paranormal romance fetish will like this. Tommy's no Edward Cullen, but who knows? Maybe Adam will turn out to be Phoebe's knight-in-rotting-flesh.


kiirstin said...



Not a big fan of zombie books, generally, since I'm not a big fan of being creeped out. But romantic zombies? Perhaps I can get behind that. Very good review!

Andrea said...

I'm going to try it and see, but I'm not a huge zombie fan so we'll see. Thanks for the review.

Mishel said...

I'm a little hesitant about this book and have been since I first heard about it. I guess I haven't gotten into the zombie mood yet. I still plan on checking this one out, eventually. I did enjoy your review.