Zombie, Or Not to Be

Hazy Dell. Sept. 2020. 220p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781948931137.
Gr 3-7–Zombies run amok in Deadmark. Protagonist Edda is a scientist who flees to Ignorway in pursuit of the virus that triggered a zombie outbreak. Shakespeare fans will recall Hamlet’s first line—“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”—then Hamlet fleeing to Norway. Similar allusions pepper the book—most notably, the title. Parallels with the coronavirus pandemic also emerge. Short-sighted greedy decisions damaged Ignorway’s environment, and the degradation made an ideal home for the virus to flourish. The virus spreads rapidly, so zombies attack increasing numbers of humans to satisfy an insatiable appetite for brains. Edda and her two loyal friends tackle the virus and wipe out the zombies. Preventing future virus flare-ups is difficult because most Ignorwegians do not believe in science, so they will not commit to environmental cleanup. Among the hardliners is Edda’s own Aunt Agnostia, who sabotages Edda’s scientific work. In the end, Edda and her friends are able to control the zombie population, and they initiate environmental restoration. Fans of zombie novels will remember Max Brooks’s World War Z, a readalike for its high caliber scientific background about how viruses spread, and the humanitarian complexities during a global pandemic. A global pandemic, environmental issues, and characters who do not believe in science are themes all too suitable for students seeking contemporary fiction to write about for class.
VERDICT Highly recommended for a middle-grade collection that caters to fans of the paranormal genre. Middle graders hungry for the next zombie book will devour this one.

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