James, Brian. 2008. Zombie Blondes.
I loved this book. I just LOVED this book. It was just so readable. Compelling I guess is the proper word for it. I was just hooked from the very beginning. "There aren't any rules to running away from your problems. No checklist of things to cross off. No instructions. Eeny, meeny, pick a path and go. That's how my dad does it anyway because apparently there's no age limit to running away, either." Our narrator, a teen girl named Hannah Sanders, is tired of running away. Dragged away is more like it. Her father, a former cop, is always on the move. But when the two move to the seemingly quiet town of Maplecrest, it will be Hannah who wants to run. And not without good reason.
Zombie Blondes could have been named ... Pretties or I Was a Non-Blonde Cheerleader or Geek Magnet, for example. (I'm not saying that the book resembles the plot lines of those books. Just that taken at face value, the titles could work for Zombie Blondes.) Hannah was hoping--really hoping--that in a town as small as this one, a town as dead as this one--that she'd have a chance to be one of the pretty people, the beautiful people, the popular people. Instead, against all the odds, the town is full of strangely attractive beautiful-and-popular people (from the cheerleaders, the football players, the teachers and coaches, the town sheriff, etc.) Some of these people seem to have a mesmerizing, hypnotic effect on others. (Especially when the cheerleaders perform their routines.)
This is something Hannah notices on her first day of school. How beautiful the popular girls are. How they all look the same. How they do everything the same really. And it's something that Lukas, a geeky boy who is unmistakably drawn to Hannah, points out to her as well. He offers his friendship, yes, but more importantly he offers her advice. Again and again and again and again. His advice is strange to her ears. Very strange indeed. He keeps rambling on and on about how the cheerleaders are zombies. About how she needs to stay away from them...and above all else she MUST not join them or she'll be turned.
IF you were Hannah, you'd be thinking this Lukas is one strange guy. Don't deny it. After all, Hannah doesn't have the benefit of knowing that she's in a book called ZOMBIE BLONDES.
So when one of the cheerleaders offers her a chance to try out....Hannah decides that it's worth a try. What could go wrong, right?
Do I recommend Zombie Blondes? Yes!!! A bit predictable....maybe. But it's fun. Part of the appeal, at least the way I see it, is that it reads like realistic fiction. Hannah is a person that is easy to relate to. Who doesn't wish to have a best friend? to have a boyfriend? to be loved? Hannah wants something that most of us would readily admit to wanting back in high school--a place she fits in, a place to belong, a place to blend in and feel comfortable. She wants to NOT be different. She wants to be "normal." And Hannah's home life, in a way, also adds another layer to the novel. Her father is absent even when present. He's emotionally shut down, unavailable, checked out. And Hannah is tired of being the grown up in the house. Very tired of this relationship being stuck in the same old patterns.
First sentence: "I can usually pick out the popular kids soon after setting foot into a new school. The girls, anyway. They wear popularity like a uniform for everyone to see. From their hairstyles to their expensive shoes. Everything about them is torn from the glossy pages of the latest teen fashion magazines. Everything about them is perfect. At least on the outside, anyway."
He’s about to walk away but stops. Turns to me and opens his mouth and starts to stutter like he’s not sure if he should say what he wants to. Then finally deciding to go ahead and say it, but refusing to take his eyes off the floor when he does. “It’s just . . . you’re kind of pretty . . . and she might try to turn you into one of them . . . one of her clones,” he says. “I don’t want to see that happen to you, that’s all.”
I tuck my lip under my top teeth.
“Is that supposed to be a compliment?”’ I ask.
“Nope,”’ he says.
“Just a warning.”
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews