Published by HarperCollins on May 7, 2013
It happened on Halloween.
The world ended.
And a dangerous Game brought it back to life.
Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.
In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.
But The Game is changing.
The Bellows are evolving.
The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.
And the brothers will never be the same.
Are you ready? Pitchforks in hand? OK…
I wanted the zombies to eat Patrick. There, I said it. In part, just to get this annoying person out of the book. But also, I think the plot would have received a much-needed jolt of energy by dispatching this child who required constant care and attention, admittedly just as would any 5 year old in a setting populated with ravenous zombies.
Look at the last two words of the synopsis: “unexpected romance.” Well, no, it was not unexpected to me. Unnecessary? Definitely. Thrown in at the request of the agent or publisher? Maybe. It seems as much an afterthought in the book as it did in the synopsis. Out of the tiny, and I mean TINY, group of seemingly-normal survivors the boys found, one just happened to be the correct age and gender to appeal to a heterosexual teenage boy. Her character could have been a different age or gender, and if you take away the flirty moments, you’ve got the same book.
If you’ve visited my site before, you might know that my obsession with zombies often leads me to give some leeway to flaws that might bother other readers. As fantastic as the synopsis sounded, and THAT AWESOME COVER, I just couldn’t do it here. In addition to the character problems I mentioned, I was also turned off by the overly juvenile tone of the writing. Yes, it’s YA, but the tone of the book and Michael’s own voice seemed a bit dumbed-down. It almost seemed more MG than YA. The secondary characters, particularly the villains, were little more than caricatures, and there is absolutely no surprise in who gets their zombie comeuppance. Worst of all, these zombies/bellows were not all that scary, and I never had the sense that the characters who were obviously going to make it to the end were ever in danger. And that, my friends, is a major zombie fail.
Note – I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review.
Review posted at Goodreads.