Rusty Fischer and Medallion Press have offered up a new take on zombies with this wonderful piece of fiction. What, at first glance, looks like your “run of the mill” YA zombie novel, turns everything you thought about the sub-genre on it’s head, and whollops you with a very important, and impressive example of how YA should be written.
Maddy Swift is just a normal girl—a high school junior surviving class with her best friend and hoping the yummy new kid, Stamp, will ask her out. When he finally does, her whole life changes.
Sneaking out to meet Stamp at a party one rainy night, Maddy is struck by lightning. After awakening, she feels lucky to be alive. Over time, however, Maddy realizes that she’s become the thing she and everyone else fear most: the living dead.
With no Heartbeat and no breath in her lungs, Maddy must learn how to survive as a zombie. Turns out there’s a lot more to it than shuffling around 24/7 growling, “Brains”. Needing an afterlife makeover is only the beginning of her problems. As Barracuda Bay Haigh faces zombie Armageddon, Maddy must summon all of her strength to protect what matters most – just as soon as she figures out exactly what that is.
Busting out of the gate with an explosive (and hilarious) intro, Fischer sets the stage for a fun romp through the life of a young, accidently zombified, teenage girl; and leads you to believe that this is going to be something reminiscent of the scores of other YA horror novels out there. But you, the intelligent reader, can see something else in there. Behind the facade of a teenage-angst-ridden zombie story, Fischer has presented something fresher and more vivid than the decaying corpses littering the YA section of your favorite book store (or web-store *sigh*).
Fischer brings a massive amount of entertainment to this piece, not only poking fun at most teenage stereotypes, but also poking fun at the genre itself – in some places. Written from the perspective of the main female character, the author tends to lay heavy on the funny to dispell most of the serious situations, but dips into some seriously hardcore emotional territory with others. The brilliance of this situation is that he is able to make you laugh, think, and possibly even cry…all within the same sentence. To say that Fischer understands the teenage mindframe would be an understatement. He lives it in this novel, and that is what makes this book so different from the rest of the pack.
Now, in what is possibly my favorite move with this novel, Fischer whips out a whole new bag of tricks in regards to the zombies themselves. The constantly shuffling, groaning, and…well…slow moving zombies are eschewed for a more intelligent and brutal breed of walking dead. Not only are they completely sentient beings, but they’re also capable of planning and other sorts of menacing behavior. Even the manner of becoming zombified is completely different from most traditional ways. Fischer has introduced the potential for lightening to be a crucial factor in the zombification process, but hasn’t completely done away with the “zombie-by-bite” method. In fact, two different types of zombies can be created using the two different styles of…well…zombie creation, which is a much needed breath of fresh air in the sub-genre.
The whole book is written beautifully, combining so many different emotions and enough pop culture references to make any nerd’s head explode. Fischer has a tight grip on all things modern, and it really shows throughout the entire story. This novel will appeal to all ages. No exception. Hopefully Fischer has it in mind to write a follow up, as this is one story that I can really see becoming bigger and more detailed.
A great introduction to a truly unique world, Zombies Don’t Cry sets the bar high for YA horror novels.