Sep 6, 2012
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
Alice "Please call me Ali" Bell lives under unusual circumstances. Despite being a teenager, she's never been kissed, never been on a date, & can go toe to toe with her dad in a sparring match. Sounds a bit off, no? That's because Ali's dad is convinced that there are monsters that only come out at night to prey off the living, so in order to keep his father safe he has forearmed them with tactical maneuvers, keeps them locked in their home after nightfall & paces their house until daylight. Ali's always thought her dad was off his rocker, until her birthday. That night changed her world in the time it would have taken her to blow out her candles.
Now an orphan, living with her grandparents, & transferring to her parents' old high school, Ali is just trying to make it through life day by day. Of course life has other plans when it forces her to collide with Cole Holland. A mysterious rebel with a notorious temper, Cole can't seem to keep away from Ali. But his intentions may not be as sinister as Ali fears, but they do involve the monsters.
This was a masterful retelling of a classic book. There are some great elements from Alice in Wonderland incorporated into this book, while still allowing Zombieland to stand on its own. Ali is a unique young woman that I thoroughly enjoyed following around throughout her misadventures. Her tone & emotional reactions to everything she experiences allows a serious look into how a "normal" person might actually respond to such unbelievable circumstances.
Her relationships are quite central to her storyline. The progression of these relationships (family, friends, & lovers) not only helps move the story along, but also highlights Ali's state of mind & perception. While I must admit that Cole & Kat's mood swings nearly gave me whiplash a few times, for the most part they are understandable. There are also quite a few characters to keep up with. While I think the core will remain at about 7, many more are mentioned by name & turn up quite often.
Having only read a few of her adult works (and none of her other YA works) I don't have a lot to compare with this book. Needless to say, I thoroughly devoured it! Gena's ability to manipulate a scene & evoke specific emotions/reactions to certain events creates an uncanny world for the reader to explore. I was especially intrigued by the zombie mythology. It's definitely one of the more unique descriptions I've heard for their existence & I refuse to give it away because the scene in which it is revealed is so fantastic that I would hate for you to miss out on that kind of excitement & bewilderment.
Short version: you need to read this book. Even if you're not a big fan of zombies, they play more of a background role to that of Ali & her friends. Just give it a shot.