Monday, 5 August 2013

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Alice in Zombieland (2012) (MIRA Ink)
Gena Showalter
Grade: A
Genre: young adult / paranormal
Sex scenes: kisses
Source: own
White Rabbit Chronicles: (1) Alice in Zombieland

Alice Bell has been brought up to be scared of the monsters. She has always thought that her father should be certified insane, what with his incessant drinking, irrational fear of things only he can see, and absolute rule that no one leaves the house after dark – but it turns out Alice was very, very wrong. It’s Alice’s birthday and after much fast-talking, pleading and guilt-tripping, she has managed to persuade her parents to leave the house for her younger sister Emma’s evening recital. Ordinarily, they would have never ventured out of the house, and while it was a brilliant performance on Emma’s part, the aftermath wasn’t nearly as pleasant.

Alice’s mother’s fast driving cannot get them past the monsters. Their car overturns on an empty road, slashing all its passengers into ribbons – except Alice. When she comes to, both her mother and sister are dead, and her father is dragged out onto the road and devoured by the very things that he had feared all his life. Alice is in Zombieland now – her worst nightmare.

Life for Ali, living with her grandparents is looking bleak. Luckily, she’s got a new best friend in Kat, who isn’t afraid to tell people what she thinks to their faces, and is more than happy to show Ali around at her new school. Yet, even on her first day, Ali lands herself in big trouble. One look at the school’s badboy, Cole Holland, and she’s plunged into an intimate vision that grips her beyond her control. Suddenly Cole and his gang have an uncomfortable interest in the new girl and people don’t know whether to steer clear of the inevitable blowup, or stick close so that they can get an eyeful of the action.

Something’s up with Cole and his gang – they rule the school and everyone’s afraid of them. They’re forever skipping class and yet they’re never in trouble; one day, they turn up at school bruised and battered, looking like they have only escaped with their lives. Amidst all their strange behaviour, one thing remains constant: Ali and Cole’s daily vision and his insistence that he stay out of his gang’s business. Of course, Ali has nothing to lose and she’s plunged into a world where zombies stalk the streets and she has an instrumental part to play in stopping them …

This is one of my favourite books of the year. This has been a good year for reading: almost a dozen books have made the list so far this year, something for which I’m ecstatic about. This is my tenth Gena Showalter book (I looked it up) and the best by far. She’s always been an author that I’ve wanted to like, and always disappointed that I haven’t found the right book. I haven’t liked her other YA paranormal, but this was fantastic. It’s different to the others I’ve read (though apparently she’s done zombies before) and this change in direction away from the more alien/sci-fi was a fantastic move.

These zombies aren’t your regular zombies. Their flesh isn’t rotting, they don’t sleep in coffins or burst spontaneously from the ground. They’re methodical, almost calculating in their attacks and there’s an endless supply of bodies ready to replace those that are killed. I love the action elements and the attention to detail in developing this super-zombie breed. It’s different from your mainstream zombie novel and that should be reason alone to read this book.

The attraction between Ali and Cole literally sizzles. Their visions take place almost daily on their first eye-contact of that day and it is through these scenes that we start to get glimpses of the electric relationship to come. They’re wonderful for each other and with each other, and Ms Showalter has done a fantastic job in creating a YA couple that I can root so hard for. It’s been a long time since I’ve read such fantastic chemistry between characters and I can’t wait to see what book two, Through the Zombie Glass, will bring.

I loved this book. It was captivating, compelling and I couldn't put it down. I recently interned at HarperCollins and spent many lunchtimes in their fabulous staff bookshop. I hadn't heard of this book before I saw it on the shelf, and it was one of the very first things I bought from the bookshop. I doon't think I had even realised it was YA - the beautiful cover, title and Gena Showalter's name were enough to entice me and now that I've found such wonderful work from her, there's no turning back.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction

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