2008: 97. Generation Dead

“Phoebe and her friends held their breath as the dead girl in the plaid skirt walked past their table in the lunchroom.”

Generation Dead, Daniel Waters

Generation Dead is a YA book with a boffo premise (and a totally striking cover, which caught my eye at least three times, finally leading to me taking it out of the library, so good job, marketing folks). For some reason, dead teenagers in the United States are coming back to life.  Only teenagers, only some of them, only in the U.S. (though there has been one in Canada).  The book is set in a high school, where the living and the dead are interacting the best they can.  Of course, the whole living impaired (it’s rude to call them zombies) thing is a metaphor for prejudice, etc., but it is done well enough that the book doesn’t feel heavy handed.  The fact is, many of the living find the dead unbearably creepy - some thing their existence is a sign of the apocalypse, some don’t consider them to be human (there are stories of the dead being burned at the stake, etc.), and some (including our story’s evil but moderately complex villain) resent the ones who who did come back, because of the ones who haven’t.  Others, like our heroine, Phoebe, try to see the dead as people - even if they aren’t quite the people they were, and to make them part of society and understand their lives.  She is helped by a new school initiative which is meant to incorporate the undead into American society.  

Like I said, good premise, and Waters plays with zombie mythology, and does a good job making the dead seem human, but different.  And his characters (living and dead) seem like real people, who have very realistic reactions to a crazy (and often quite sad and scary) situation.  I didn’t particularly like the ending of the book, though I understand why it Waters chose to end it that way, and I think some ends were left hanging, which either suggests sloppiness or a sequel, but I quite enjoyed reading this, and would recommend it as a fun summer read.*


*It would also make a heck of a movie! 


Date/Place Completed: 7/7/08; D.C.

Categories: Fiction, YA, Library Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017