Brian James is the author of several notable books, including Pure Sunshine and Dirty Liar. He lives in a small town in upstate New York that may or may not be overrun with zombies. He is currently researching the matter... very carefully.
Despite its surface resemblance to satires like Daniel Waters's recent Generation Dead (reviewed Apr. 21), James's (Pure Sunshine) zombie novel plays its horror theme for chills, not laughs. Over the past six years, Hannah has gotten used to abrupt moves with her single father, a former cop who now stays barely a step ahead of the debt collectors. But when the two take up residence in tiny Maplecrest, Vt., Hannah soon realizes something isn't right. A clan of too-perfect blonde cheerleaders runs the high school, where the football team is known as the Death Squad. An outcast warns Hannah of the cheerleaders' malevolence, and predicts, correctly, that they will court Hannah. Finding the promise of instant status too potent to resist forever, she eventually joins their team, only to learn the town's deadly secret. James does a wonderfully authentic job depicting the love-hate feelings Hannah has for her father, and Hannah's smart narrative voice largely compensates for the lack of action (the suspense doesn't kick in until the finale); the author is better at portraying the real-life aspects of high school and family dynamics than at sending shivers down the spine. Ages 12-up. (July) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"James has created a believable novel about starting over, making friends, bullying, and ostracism, while adding a dash of the supernatural . . . readers will still give a rousing cheer to James's take on teenage issues." --School Library Journal This foray into the world of the living dead is suspenseful and downright terrifying, with an ending right out of a classic film. -- Kirkus Reviews " ... a new kid in a very strange town, 'Zombie Blondes' takes its time making the case that the bitchy teen queens are actually deadly. It's tremendously readable stuff, though: James does a good job showing the allure of popularity even while Hannah tries to stay above it." --San Francisco Chronicle
Gr 7-10-It's not easy moving every few months, but after six years, there are some constants upon which 15-year-old Hannah can rely. The small-town cops will always uncover her father's past, the creditors will find them eventually, and the popular girls are always easy to spot. She knows the type: blond, pretty, athletic-the cheerleaders. Maplecrest is no different. They sit at a central table in the lunchroom, so alike they resemble clones. There is something almost inhuman about them, but that doesn't mean Hannah is willing to believe her new lunch-table friend, Lukas, when he says they're zombies. Nor is she willing to pass up the chance to join the cheerleading squad when asked, even as classmates are disappearing and the number of empty houses in town increases. James has created a believable novel about starting over, making friends, bullying, and ostracism, while adding a dash of the supernatural. However, with every part of the book screaming that the cheerleaders are, in fact, zombies, Hannah's continued refusal to see the truth becomes unbelievable. One almost begins to hope that they aren't zombies, and that Lukas is just a crazy kid making Hannah's adjustment that much harder. Though not really suspenseful, readers will still give a rousing cheer to James's take on teenage issues.-Cara von Wrangel Kinsey, New York Public Library Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.