Description (from Goodreads):
Fourteen-year-old Jeremy Barker attends an all-boys Catholic high school where roving gangs of bullies make his days a living hell. His mother is an absentee pillhead, his older brother a self-diagnosed sex-addict, and his father disappears night after night without explanation. Jeremy navigates it all with a code cobbled together from the zombie movies he’s obsessed with: Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later, Planet Terror, Zombieland, and Dawn of the Dead among others.
The code is put to the test when he discovers in his father’s closet a bizarre homemade video of a man strapped to a bed, being prepped for some sort of surgical procedure. As Jeremy attempts to trace the origin of the video, this remarkable debut moves from its sharp, precocious beginnnings to a climax of almost unthinkable violence, testing him, and the reader, to the core.
Zombie was pitched to me as a coming-of-age story about a boy who is unable to relate to his father except through their mutual love of zombie movies. While that much is true, it does not even come close to really capturing this book. Believe me when I say that this is one seriously messed up novel. Parts of it reminded me of one of the Dexter books, although I won’t say which one due to the risk of spoilers.
Zombie is told through the first-person perspective of Jeremy, a boy who is beginning private Catholic school after the breakdown of his family. His parents have separated, his mother is addicted to prescription painkillers, and his older brother is a womanizing drug addict with a penchant for stripping down while high. Jeremy’s dad is also increasingly more absent, leaving for entire nights at a time with no real explanation. School is proving to be tougher than anticipated for Jeremy, and freshmen are routinely beat up and humiliated. Also, Jeremy’s started having nosebleeds at the most inopportune times. The things going on in Jeremy’s life made me want to scream at the book, “Where are all the grownups!?” Because there is really nobody reliable for Jeremy to turn to. Then, he finds a bizarre video in his dad’s room, which might or might not be a snuff film. Things just got worse for poor Jeremy.
I did enjoy reading this book, although I didn’t always understand why some things were happening. The plot is not nearly as tight as it could have been, but you can’t help by feel for Jeremy and want to keep reading to find out what the heck is going on. The ending also felt a bit rushed, but it is quite a climax. I feel sorry for anyone who reads this and doesn’t finish the book, because it’s a doozy.
Want to feel better about your own life, think about your favorite zombie films, and have your mind blown at least a little? Read this one.