"Peppered with gross-out humor, the camp flows freely in this latest zombie comedy from Jay...The heroine’s breezy narrative voice is authentic and often funny, and her protracted crush on fellow student Gavin McDougal (whom Karen secretly thinks of as “McDoMe”) will appeal to romance fans." (Supernatural comedy. 12 & up)
My So-Called Death Stacey Jay. Flux, $9.95 paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-7387-1543-8
Unlike Jay's You Are So Undead to Me and Undead Much, the heroine of her latest novel doesn't beat zombies—she joins 'em. After an accident cracks open her skull, 14-year-old cheerleader Karen discovers that she is one of the “Death Challenged,” and she agrees to attend DEAD High (“Death-Challenged Education for Adolescents and the Deprogrammed”). Adjusting to lunch menus that list “Popcorn pig brain bites” and being wary of maggots (“a zombie's only natural predator”) isn't easy, but the story takes off after the illegal brain harvesting of a student. For the death-challenged, brain removal can lead to permanent death if the brain is not restored within days, leading to a race to find the thief. As the brain thefts continue, Karen suspects sexy swimmer Gavin, but the murder of Karen's closest friend somehow leads her to team up with him. Though not for the faint of heart, the premise and gruesome details (“the back of my skull burst open like a pomegranate seed”) should appeal to those with a dark sense of humor. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
Issue: February 15, 2010
My So-Called Death.
Jay, Stacey (Author)
Mar 2010. 240 p. Flux, paperback, $9.95. (9780738715438).
Tired of vampires and looking for humorous gore? Meet high-school freshman and zombie cheerleader Karen Vera. When Karen falls from the top of a cheerleading pyramid, her father scoops her brains back into her cracked skull and rushes her home rather than to a hospital or morgue. (In Karen’s family, people frequently survive their death and go on to live full and happy lives as zombies.) Karen is sent to DEAD High, a special boarding school where zombie teens take courses such as Zombie Internet Technology and Secrets of Morticians: Foundation and Beyond. Meals consist of different preparations of (animal) brains, with separate lines for raw and cooked. Karen falls for Gavin, the cutest guy in school, but then suspects he is in on an evil plot to murder students and eat their (human) brains, which is emphatically taboo. The plot is swift paced and appropriately wacky, but the real draws are the satirical portrayal of the popular set and the black humor of zombie life. Pop-culture references will date this title, but for right now, it’s a welcome horror spoof.
Undead Much Stacey Jay. Penguin/Razorbill, $8.99 paper (320p) ISBN978-1-59514-273-3
In this sequel to You Are So Dead to Me, Jay keeps the action moving at a brisk clip. Sixteen-year-old Megan Berry, a powerful zombie Settler, is used to having her spells return the Undead to their graves without a fuss. Something's different this time, though—a new crop of zombies are not following the rules, and worse, Megan's Settler bosses think she's responsible for raising the zombies. With the help of her boyfriend, Ethan, and pom squad captain Monica, Megan works to clear her name and find the culprit. Along the way, she has to deal with her attraction to an Undead psychic, do her part to fend off cheerleaders trying to take the halftime shows away from the pom squad, and keep Arkansas from becoming the center of a zombie apocalypse. Jay's writing is light and engaging, and the characters are lively and likable (though some readers may want to shake Megan for her poor communication at times). While the plot hinges on events from the first book, the background is covered well enough that readers can start here without confusion. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)