(Cover picture courtesy of 100 Industries.)
Lifeless. Slow-moving. Brain-dead.
Welcome To Zomburbia.
My name is Courtney Hart, and I’m here to tell you about things that suck. Being born in a podunk town like Salem, Oregon, for one. Living in a world infested with zombies? That, too. And the meat heads I go to school with? I think I’d actually take the undead over them most days. But I have a plan to get out of here and move to New York. I just have to keep selling Vitamin Z along with your fries at The Bully Burger. The secret ingredient? Zombie brains.
I’ve noticed things are getting even worse lately, if that’s even possible. The zombies seem to be getting smarter and faster. If I can avoid being arrested, eaten by shufflers, or catching the eye of some stupid boy, I should be able to make it through finals week still breathing. . .
[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook copy of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
Sometimes you read a blurb and think a novel has a good premise. However when you read that book you learn that you have a huge, insurmountable problem with it: the narrator.
Courtney is snarky, constantly putting her friends down, arrogant, clueless, bratty, hot-tempered and thoughtless. So she’s pretty much your typical teenager except for the fact that throughout the novel I kept wishing for her to die because she was so awful. I can’t go into much detail because I don’t want to get into too many spoilers, but it’s hard to believe she went through so many traumatic, possibly life-changing events and came out exactly the same at the end of the novel. As I’ve said before, I don’t mind unsympathetic characters (like Jorg from Prince of Thorns) but Courtney is just intolerable. She’s your typical teenager with attitude magnified by 10 and given an added dose of blindness about the world around her.
Being stuck in the head of such a horrible human being for the whole novel was trying. I kept fruitlessly wishing she’d die so I could get in the head of someone who at least acted like a human, like Willie or even Brandon. But no such luck; Courtney lives while people around her die like flies. The only mildly interesting thing about her is that she thinks she has a plan to fix the zombie problem. She goes on and on about how much smarter she is than everyone and yet we never hear the details of this wonderful plan that hinges on the army clearing New York of all its zombies in the next year or so.
Okay, even with that wretched girl for a narrator, this book may have redeemed itself with a good premise. I’ll admit that it doesn’t have a bad premise, just not a great one. If everyone has moved out into the suburbs because the cities are infested with zombies, why don’t the zombies follow them into the suburbs? Predators like to go where the food is, especially when said food is wandering around near wooded areas where there’s lots of shelter.
As for the drug Vitamin Z, I’ve never underestimated the determination of people to get high. Yes, I believe that people would try to get high off zombie brains but I also think Gallardo needed to explain more of why the drug makes people act like they do when they’re on it. That could be in the next installment of the series, but I’m not so curious as to consider reading the sequel. Not unless Courtney gets a personality transplant.
This book doesn’t come out until August 26 but I can’t honestly recommend it to anyone. Courtney is a rather poor excuse for a human being and the plot isn’t even all that exciting. To top it all off, the zombies (while having some unique qualities like being able to lay ambushes it seems) are pretty boring. They show up when it’s convenient for the plot and that’s about it. We’re told that they seem to be evolving pack behaviour and see that actually happen during the novel but we’re told exactly 0 about it or its possible consequences. And that’s pretty much how the whole novel goes, in one big cycle where we end up back at square one in the end.
I give this book 1/5 stars.