J.R. Angelella: ‘Zombie’
Gigglers: I’m not going to seek out the newest hardcovers and tell you whether or not to buy them. And while not the Sunday Review, this Sunday blog will explore my brilliant and fascinating thoughts about books. Please use the comments section to share your own thoughts on this book, or whatever you’re reading.
J.R. Angelella’s new book, Zombie, could give you a nightmare, if that’s what you’re into. But I don’t want to give anything away. The book isn’t really about zombies. It’s about this teenager, Jeremy, who’s into zombie movies. The majority of the book is not scary, but there’s a decent splash of gore at one point which, full disclosure, I read the way I watch a scary movie–with my hands half over my eyes. I skimmed.
So I won’t tell you all about the disturbing ending, but I’ll tell you why I thought the book was rad. The main character, Jeremy, goes to an all-boys’ Catholic school in Baltimore. A lot of scenes take place in my old haunt, Fells Point. There aren’t a ton of books that take place in Baltimore and it’s always fun to read about a place you know (or one you don’t know for that matter!). In addition to nailing “Balmer,” Angelella captures that confusing age (freshman year of high school) when kids want to be adults, but also need to be taken care of—something Jeremy’s parents seem to want to do, but are incapable of.
Jeremy is left to figure out high school bullies, girls and friendships on his own, no thanks to his stoner brother, all while trying to investigate what his dad is up to and why the heck he sneaks out of the house every night. There’s a lot of profanity throughout the book, because, after all, this is a teenage boy. It reminded me a bit of Flatscreen.
The thing about Jeremy is that he’s a really good kid. He tries to do the right thing and when he has a crush on a girl, he’s honest about it in a way that most teenage boys are not. But he’s also confused and it seems like most of his dad’s parenting consists of watching zombie movies with Jeremy and a carton of moo shoo. I don’t know anything about zombie movies, nor do I like to be scared, but I could still appreciate Jeremy’s obsession and may have even learned a thing or two about what to do in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Apparently a metal bat is handy.
Angelella has no trouble getting in the head of his character–he’s a Baltimore native and survived his own high school years at a private school there–and its no wonder he’s now working on YA novels with his wife. I also found that rather than jumping right in, and then putting on the brakes and then speeding up, the way many books kind of stop and go, or simply coasting through at the speed limit, Zombie basically starts at 10 mph and ends at 100. There’s a steady progression of Jeremy’s life imploding the whole way through and the book got better and better as I read.
If you’re into high school, or zombies or how to deal with messed up situations, read Zombie.
Book Cover image via Indie Bound