Author: Gena Showalter (author website | blog)
Release Date: Oct. 1st 2012 by Harlequin Teen Aust
Age Group: Young Adult
Alice in Zombieland. The name alone screams Burtonesque-Resident Evil promise. Yet readers approaching Gena Showalter’s latest Young Adult offering with such hopes will find themselves disappointed. Instead, Alice in Zombieland will appeal to fans of the likes of Twilight and Vampire Diaries, those desperate for unrequited romance, dark teen angst and dangerous secrets. Leave your expectations at the door, and climb down the rabbit hole...
She won't rest until she's sent every walking corpse back to its grave.
Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that's all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.
Her father was right. The monsters are real.
To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn't careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies.
The Story:Alice’s father’s always been nuts. He sees monsters—walking corpses, hungry for the living. But that’s the thing: only he sees them—until her entire family, Mum, Dad, and beloved little sister, are killed in a car accident, leaving Alice the lone survivor.
Now Alice sees them, too.
And they see her.
The 101:I know, I know, I used the dreaded ‘T’ word up there, but, in truth, Alice in Zombieland is the closest I’ve come to Meyer’s progeny’s cousin. Perhaps this is the point which needs addressing first: Contrary to the promises of its name, Alice in Zombieland is not a fantastical take on the zombie apocalypse. It’s a straight up YA paranormal, heavy with the tropes of its genre: Absent parents, protagonist with previously unknown power, new school, small town? Check. Controlling, untouchable bad boy with a dark secret? And then some. Alice in Zombieland is, in fact, a compulsively readable addition to its category, but in a genre turgid with paranormal tales of angst driven romance, it does little to set itself apart.
While Alice does have much to recommend it—amongst them a fascinating, eminently creepy take on zombie lore, and a wonderful cast of secondary characters (none less than Alice’s fantastic best friend, Kat, and her sweet, funny grandparents)—it’s let down by two its most crucial players: Alice, and her love interest, Cole Holland.
Alice, whilst a fairly engaging protagonist, feels somehow spurious, her voice sounding more like an adult attempting to channel a seventeen-year-old than an authentic teenage narrative. While people seldom speak precisely what they think, there seems a disconnect between Alice’s inner vulnerability and uncertainty, and the brave, ballsy girl she projects when she speaks. Alice’s dialogue is one of the highlights of the book, her tenacity making for fabulous verbal smackdowns. She is never at a loss for the right thing to say, her words as fierce a weapons as her fists—this girl can fight–but everything admirable about Alice crumbles around one boy: Cole Holland.
Condescending, controlling, and a borderline sociopath, Cole Holland screams ‘bad boy,’ and not in a good way. He’s a deeply disturbing YA paranormal archetype, second perhaps only to Patch Cipriano of Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush ‘Saga’. Yet, while even I admit to Patch’s appeal (and the guy is a confessed attempted murderer), Cole left me cold. The connection Alice and he share is disturbingly intense, and the power gradient in their relationship unhealthily balanced. While the Alpha archetype irks me little in adult romance with a female lead who can hold her own, it leaves me profoundly uncomfortable in young adult. Nevertheless, the chemistry between Cole and Alice is palpable, and will hold strong appeal for readers looking for heady, smoking-hot romance—it certainly kept me reading.
The Verdict:Alice in Zombieland is a book with many problems, yet it’s also compulsively readable, with a teen romance boasting unparalled heat and chemistry. Paranormal readers will devour the tome, just don’t look too deep. The reading experience is kind of like making mud pies: Fun at the time, but leaves you feeling dirty.
Books in This Series:
- Alice in Zombieland (October 2012)
- Through the Zombieglass (Expected 2013)