Here we are again with another indie book feature!
Author K. S. Hall kindly sent me a copy of Zombie Boy to read, since it is in a similar genre to Werewolf Max. So, here's my take on it.
The cover for this book is pretty creepy and dark. It feels more like YA than middle-grade. Seeing the cover image, I was expecting the story to include a lot of descriptive violence, but it really doesn't. There are a few scenes where people are killing "the infected," and a few where zombies are attacking people. But the violence is more implicit than explicit. So I'm uncertain if this cover is the best choice for this book. I feel like something a little more mysterious might suit it better.
The story starts off with Aiden waking up alone in his house as a zombie. He immediately realizes that he isn't like the other zombies because he can think and doesn't want to attack and eat people.
He manages to befriend some living kids and follows them to their "safe zone," the old high school. These kids figure out that there is something different about Aiden and manage to get him to the CDC. It turns out that's where Aiden's father works. The scientists discover that Aiden's biology might hold the key to the cure for the zombie virus.
After a few challenges, the president eventually sends a helicopter to retrieve Aiden and they ship him off so the top scientists in the country can study him. (not at the CDC?)
For critique, there were a few chapters that didn't appear to have a purpose other than to fill the book out a little. Other parts didn't seem to make sense or just weren't explained well enough.
When Aiden wakes up he realizes that he isn't like the other zombies because he can think. But how does he know what the other zombies are experiencing? I would expect to be given an example of what normal zombies are like and how Aiden has experienced them in the past.
When he leaves his house he's looking for his mom. But when he befriends a group of kids he seems to abandon the idea of looking for her. This wouldn't bother me, except that there doesn't seem to be a motivation for the change. He does still look at the female zombies he encounters, wondering if he will find her, but it isn't a focused search.
Aiden seems concerned about how long he will survive as a zombie. But no attention is given to how he stays hydrated, how he finds food, or whether being without shelter is uncomfortable for him.
When I got to the end of the book, my understanding of the apocalyptic world had to undergo a drastic shift. In the beginning, it seemed that there is no functioning government and that zombies vastly outnumbered the living. In the end, when Aiden boards a helicopter and is on his way to help save the world, it appears that that assumption was wrong. A little more exposition woven into the first couple chapters would help this.
Overall, the story was intriguing. I wouldn't call it a horror story, exactly. It was more like an adventure or thriller. Aiden has a sweet and generous personality, in spite of being a zombie. And I was curious throughout the book whether he would find a way to survive. That one question is what kept me turning the pages until the end.