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Generation Dead / Daniel Waters

thGenDead.jpgHyperion / May 2008
Reviewed by: Martel Sardina

Romero zombies are unfeeling monsters with limited intelligence who hunger for human flesh. Who could have ever imagined a world where zombies and humans would want to be friends? Daniel Waters, that’s who. In Generation Dead, a strange phenomenon is occurring all over the country. Dead teenagers aren’t staying dead. And now those termed “living impaired” or “differently biotic” are seeking a way to fit in to a society that doesn’t want them.

At Oakvale High, Phoebe, a pale-skinned Goth, has never been a member of the “in” crowd. As the new school year begins, Phoebe finds herself drawn to Tommy Williams, one of the “living impaired.” Tommy, the leader of the “DB” kids at Oakvale, is trying to break the Romero stereotype by going out for the football team. The punishing blows he’s taken on the football field do not faze Tommy. However, society at-large does not view being “DB” as an asset. To the religious zealots, it is an abomination. A sign of the apocalypse. Integration is not something that the living should have to tolerate.

Phoebe’s friends, Adam and Margi, can’t understand her interest in Tommy for very different reasons. Margi’s fear of the “living impaired” stems from guilt over the past. Adam’s experiences with Tommy on the football team left him with a new understanding of how the “DB” kids live. But gaining this understanding doesn’t make Adam feel any better about Phoebe and Tommy’s budding relationship. Adam is scared for Phoebe not only because of the way the “DB” kids are treated, but also because he thinks of her as more than a friend.

Phoebe and friends, along with a select group of the “DB” kids are participating in a research project run by the Hunter Foundation. The goal – to further integration and find ways to acclimate the “DB” population into society. Waters’ prose is witty and sharp. In the following passage, Skip Slydell, an author/activist, who has come to speak to the project participants.

“Transformation always requires radical action. If Elvis Presley had not taken the radical action of singing a style of music traditionally sung by black people, we may never have had the transformation that rock and roll enacted on modern society. If Martin Luther King had not taken the radical action of organizing and speaking around the cause of civil rights, we may have never undergone the transformation from an oppressive state to one of freedom and equal opportunity for all. And that transformation is not yet complete. You kids are living –or unliving, as the case may be –proof of that…Radical action coupled with radical response. Only then can we get true change. There was a reason that I used strong words with you, impolite words like ‘zombie’ and ‘undead’ and ‘blood bag’ and the reason was not because I wanted to be offensive. I used those words because right now they are radical words, and I wanted to provoke a radical reaction in you.”

Waters spends a great deal of the novel’s word count building compelling characters and allowing the story to unfold through dialogue as well as internal monologue rather than subjecting readers to lengthy bits of exposition. For the most part, the pacing of story not an issue. However, while the story comes to a satisfying resolution, the change in pace at the transition to the story’s climax felt a bit rushed.

While Generation Dead is being marketed to a young adult audience, like the Harry Potter series, it should have crossover appeal to adults as well. Adults readers should be impressed by Waters’ take on understanding and combating racial discord and the use of zombies as a means to get teens to think about what they can do to put an end to propagated stereotypes.

Pre-order Daniel Waters' Generation Dead.

Posted on Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 08:32AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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