Sunday, August 10, 2014

Girl Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie by C.A. Verstraete

Synopsis Life can suck when you're sixteen. It can suck even worse when you're not- quite- dead.  Sixteen-year-old Rebecca Herrera Hayes faces every teenager's biggest nightmares: bad skin, bad hair, and worse . . . turning into one of the living dead.

Becca's life changes forever when her cousin Spence comes back to their small Wisconsin town carrying a deadly secret—he's becoming a zombie, a fate he shares with her through an accidental scratch.

The Z infection, however, has mutated, affecting younger persons like her, or those treated early enough, differently. Now she must cope with weird physical changes and habits no girl wants to be noticed for. Then she meets Gabe, a good-looking part-Z like her, and fears falling for him. After all, how can he, who shows hardly any Z symptoms, be interested in someone like her?

But time is running out... Becca needs his help as she and her cousin Carm search for their missing mothers and fight off hungry Zs.

Most of all, she needs to find something, anything, to stop this deadly transformation before it is forever too late...

Publisher: Intrigue Publishing (July 29, 2013)
Print Length: 206 pages
Young Adult Fiction 

This review can also be found on The Bookie Monster. For more great book reviews, visit their site!
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars on TBM and Amazon.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinion of this book or the content of this review. 

C. A. Verstraete's novel, Girl Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, is the first zombie book I've read that fits into the "Young Adult" category. Prior to this, I often wondered how an author would handle the zombie fiction genre when written for a younger audience. Although I have nothing to compare it to, I appreciate the approach taken by Verstraete.

In Girl Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, Verstraete tells a scary tale without being overly gory or using language that is inappropriate for the audience. The issues that Becca, the main character,  faces are realistic for someone who is sixteen-- realistic except for the whole zombie thing, that is. Her biggest concerns include school, being accepted by her peers, clothes, friendship, and boys. These become somewhat minimized, however, when she finds herself infected with a virus that turns people into zombies.

For the most part, the values represented by the main characters are admirable. Becca and her cousin, Carm, are not only family, they are best friends whose relationship gets tested beyond the ordinary. Through it all, they remain fiercely loyal to each other. Family is also very important to these girls. They treat their aunt and moms respectfully, which is a refreshing change compared to much of what is portrayed on television and in other stories.  The consequences of hooking up with the wrong friends and teenage pregnancy are addressed briefly and with sensitivity. As I read Girl Z, I asked myself if I would be okay with my teenager reading it. My conclusion: if I had a high school age child, this book would be appropriate for him/her.

There are humorous parts of the book when the main character tries not to take herself or her situation too seriously. The characters are endearing and fun. For a zombie story, it is quite positive and light-hearted. The book did not end the way I expected it to, making the story even more enjoyable.

The last quarter of the book is where the action picks up. Prior to that, a lot of the story is spent discussing clothes, starting school, and makeup. I wouldn't have minded some of that since those are important parts of most girls' lives.  There was just a bit too much of it for me, especially considering the world was supposed to be going downhill quickly.

The story seemed to have a few inconsistencies in the first three quarters of the book, as well. For example, the television news footage showed hordes of zombies wandering the streets and being eliminated by the military, yet the main characters were able to take cabs, start school, and pretty much be out in public without seeing any of the undead in person.   In addition, the girls' moms were unable to get home due to the zombie population. I found myself wondering why they didn't just call a cab. I'm not exactly a zombie purist, but these inconsistencies bothered me, which is why I give the book four stars instead of five.

I recommend this fun book to readers who are in their early to late teenage years.

If you found my review of this book helpful and decide to purchase it, I'd appreciate it if you would use the link above. Amazon throws a few pennies my way when purchased through my blog. Thank you! 
About the Author (in her own words)
As the family "bookworm," I think my writing desire was a natural progression. I always read and still do, enjoying books by Barbara Taylor Bradford, Debbie Macomber, Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, and many others. 
My career has mostly been in newspapers and magazines, although fiction writing always called to me. Discovering online writing groups inspired me to get more involved in short fiction. 
 A favorite pastime, building dollhouses and miniature rooms, has served as inspiration for nonfiction stories, my nonfiction book, In Miniature Style II, a Christmas eBook and influenced my kid's mystery, Searching For a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery. Visit my Miniatures gallery to see photos of some of my miniature projects. Follow C.A. Verstraete on Facebook and Twitter Website: Site of Christine A. Verstraete