Unfed

Unfed, the sequel to Kirsty McKay’s Undead, moves the storyline away from focusing on zombies to focus on Xanthro, the evil pharma company who unleashed the Osiris zombie virus in Scotland.

After the bus crash, Bobby wakes up in a hospital only to be told her mother is dead and she has been in a coma for months. Good thing she has had all the rest as no sooner is she making sense of her surroundings then sirens blare and place is under attack, but by whom? With her newly shaved head Bobby is now a cross between GI Jane and Bruce Willis in every action movie. I mean, c’mon, how does a girl who hasn’t had any exercise in weeks suddenly able to fight, climb into an air duct and shimmy her way to an old friend’s room?   This happens repeatedly throughout this book, this girl is nearly killed over and over again, but is able to somehow to jump back up and kick ass? Well, it worked for Bruce Willis, Die Hard made big bucks, so maybe we expect superhero status of our heroes?

While the first book was reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in this story the Scooby Gang, with a new member and missing one member, are on a quest so it’s more like The Hobbit in terms of story. The gang needs to rescue their missing member and figure out a series of clues leading to a secret destination. Did I enjoy the change in focus of the story? Not really. I have never been a conspiracy nut.

However, I do enjoy Bobby as a reluctant female heroine. She is always first into the fray, but only because none of the others are willing to step up, something she sarcastically comments on all the time in her head. It’s those asides that smooth over my other criticisms of the book. I mean who says you can’t keep your sense of humor when being chased by zombies and corporate baddies?

 

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Undead

Veronica Mars or Buffy meets zombies is how I would sum up Undead by Kirsty McKay. I mean that as a compliment, I loved the wisecracking kiss ass Buffy and the even snarkier Veronica Mars, so I enjoyed the funny asides from Bobby, the female heroine in this story.

Bobby already thinks things suck even before the zombie apocalypse happens. She has recently moved back with her mother to the United Kingdom and even though she was born there, she no longer fits in as her classmates think she seems very American. On top of that, her Dad died recently and her mom has never had much time for her being a total career woman. On a school field trip with classmates who have treated her badly, it’s no wonder she chooses to hide on the school bus when they are troop into a restaurant for a meal break. The only other person on the bus is another student, Smitty, a bad boy who is there as a punishment.
The unlikely pair are joined by Alice, cheerleaders and all around popular mean girl, when all the schoolkids and chaperones drop dead. Well of course they aren’t really dead, it’s just another zombie apocalypse.

When not hurling sarcasm at each other, they struggle to survive their changed circumstances eventually being joined by Pete, the geeky near albino kid, who has also managed to avoid the act which turned the others into zombies. The addition of Pete adds a Breakfast Club type of feel to the story as you have the cheerleader, the nerd, and the rebel bad boy, though Bobby is not weird enough to be the Ally Sheedy character, even if she is a bit of an outcast.

I like this kind of mix set against the zombie background as it makes it feel real to me as I believe teens even when fighting for their life would still retain some of the ingrained cliques that were so important to them even when things were normal. Self-absorbed, they would not automatically become best friends or better people just because of the circumstances they are in. I mean we would like to believe that in the direst of circumstances we would all be brave, kind, generous and loving to our fellow human beings, but would we really?

Is this an epic zombie book such as World War Z or The Forest of Hands and Teeth? No, it’s not weighty in the way those zombie tales are, this is a fun zombie book. It will have you flashing back to your high school days and laughing at the snark, and you know what? That’s just fine, books are foremost meant to be entertaining, if some make us feel deeper emotions, help us look at the world differently, or learning something, that’s great too, but not all books have to do so.

I will say author Kirsty McKay managed to throw a few curveballs into the end of this one that I didn’t see coming, so respect. Also, there’s a sequel that I just added to my ‘to read’ list.

Enders

I never understood why people volunteer to be hypnotized. To hand over control of yourself to a stranger seems unfathomable to me, yes I have trust issues. Enders finished the story begun in Starters by Lissa Price, that in itself is unique as most apocalyptic stories these days all seem to be trilogies. In Starters, we met Callie who orphaned by the Spores (a form of chemical warfare) and worried about her sick little brother, feels that she has no choice but to work for Prime Destinations. Prime Destinations is a secret business where Enders, the elderly, can rent the bodies of Starters, for a large sum for a certain period of time. Callie’s experience is different than other Starters as she would regain consciousness during the rental period.

As the sequel begins Callie, her little brother Tyler, and her friend and neighbor Michael have moved into the house bequeathed to her by her renter. However, instead of being able to enjoy her new home, Callie is drawn into more problems caused by the chip still in her head, which was implanted during the rental process. The Old Man, the horrible head of Prime Destinations, can speak to her through her chip and let’s her know she is a ticking time bomb as he shows her via another Starter what exactly can happen to those who have chips.

When Callie is unexpectedly rescued by Hyden, the Old Man’s son, they team up together to rescue Metals, Starters with chips, and try to put a stop to the Old Man’s schemes. All she wants is a normal life, well as normal as she can be having lost her parents and living with a deadly chip in her head.

While the first book was not as sophisticated as so many YA books have become these days, I did appreciate the original story line. This one felt less original, and some scenes felt borrowed from other places, the secret desert compound, the underground lair where the good guys gather, the bartender at the club who holds a secret, etc. This book felt rushed and uneven and veered off into some sci fi/supernatural elements which didn’t add to the book, instead I felt it distracted from focusing on what is always the most interesting part of any book to me, the characters themselves and what motivates them to be the survivors they are.