18.07.10

You Are So Undead to Me by Stacey Jay

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:17 pm

Q: HOW MANY ZOMBIES DOES IT TAKE TO RUIN A SOCIAL LIFE?
A: NOT MANY.

Megan Berry is a Zombie Settler by birth, which means she’s part-time shrink to a whole bunch of semi-dead people with killer issues. All Megan really wants is to go to homecoming, but when you’re trailed by a bunch of slobbering corpses whenever you leave the house, it’s kinda hard to score a date. Let’s just say Megan’s love life could use some major resuscitation.

Megan’s convinced her life can’t get any worse – until someone in school starts using black magic to turn average, angsty Undead into scary, hardcore flesh-eating Zombies. Now it’s up to Megan to stop the Zombie apocalypse. Her life – and more importantly, the homecoming dance – depends on it.

In a lot of ways, You Are So Undead to Me is Buffy with zombies instead of vampires.  Whether or not that’s a good thing will, of course, depend on your perspective.  And while Buffy has spawned a slew of outright imitators and just generally a lot of interested in the kick-arse-girl-fights-monsters genre (yay!), this is one of the better kinda-homages I’ve come across for a while.

Megan Berry is a high school student, aspiring cheerleader, and Zombie Settler – not that she remembers that last part, until an undead turns up on her doorstep right before a hot date and needs to be settled.  Megan has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of being attacked by Reanimated Corpses as a child, which are the evil beings more often associated with zombism.  She doesn’t remember her powers or anything about the Settler world, until her powers begin to re-emerge and it becomes apparent that someone is out to get her.  That’s when gore starts to hit the fan and Megan is assigned a bodyguard/teacher in the form of Ethan, a dishy older guy who used to be her best friend before the Reanimated Corpse attack.

One of the things I really enjoyed about You Are So Undead to Me is the book’s zombie lore – while Reanimated Corpses are the relentless, brain-hungering monsters we’ve come to know and love from movies, actual zombies, the kind Megan settles, are more like traditional ghosts – folks with something to get off their chests before they can finally rest.  The fact that zombies are drawn to Settlers around their own age adds a tint of pathos to what is otherwise a frequently frothy book, particularly when Megan remembers her powers manifesting as a young child, and visitations from pre-school zombies.

Jay’s writing makes the story bounce along, with just the right amount of genuine horror and reality mixed into an otherwise humourous, bubbly story.  Megan isn’t given to a great deal of introspection, but she’s smart in her own way and likeable regardless; she reminded me a little of both Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicholson and Legally Blonde‘s Elle Woods.  Her “realness” is frequently what gives the story both its pull and its humour – like her anxiety about getting rid of an inconvenient undead not because he’s a dead guy in her loungeroom, but because she’s about to go on a high school popularity-defining date with a hot guy from the football team.

You Are So Undead to Me is the first book in a series; Undead Much? has recently been released, and My So-Called Death will be released in Australia later this year.  I’ll be looking forward to both.  I suspect that “high school zombie novel” is a trickier genre to get right than it appears to be, and Stacey Jay does it very well.