Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Review: Undead by Kirsty McKay

Undead by Kirsty McKay
#1 in the Undead series
Release Date: September 1, 2012
Publisher: The Chicken House (Scholastic)
Pages: 272
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Page


From Goodreads:

Out of sight, out of their minds: It's a school-trip splatter fest and completely not cool when the other kids in her class go all braindead on new girl Bobby.

The day of the ski trip, when the bus comes to a stop at a roadside restaurant, everyone gets off and heads in for lunch. Everyone, that is, except Bobby, the new girl, who stays behind with rebel-without-a-clue Smitty.

Then hours pass. Snow piles up. Sun goes down. Bobby and Smitty start to flirt. Start to stress. Till finally they see the other kids stumbling back.

But they've changed. And not in a good way. Straight up, they're zombies. So the wheels on the bus better go round and round freakin' fast, because that's the only thing keeping Bobby and Smitty from becoming their classmates' next meal. It's kill or be killed in these hunger games, heads are gonna roll, and homework is most definitely gonna be late.


Calibrate your expectations

This is not a deep book. At all. It's not swooningly romantic, it's not heart-pounding exciting, and it's not super funny.

What it IS is a light, fun read that's worthy of a few chuckles, has a breezy romance, and held my interest throughout. Undead should be well received, just so long as readers don't set the expectations bar super high.

Also, while I don't normally associate zombie books with good winter reading, Undead's blizzard setting makes it a perfect book to read now. 

Bobby, the girl I thought was a boy

I spent the first chapter or so focusing just as much on whether or not main character Bobby was a boy or a girl as I did on the plot. I don't like narrator gender-ambiguity. It's frustrating and unfortunately pretty indicative of the depth of Bobby's characterization.

On the plus side, Bobby's narration is sufficiently gender-ambiguous that I can totally give Undead to boy readers! So, silver lining?

Back to Bobby. She's likable and has a pretty snarky sense of humor. She's also fairly capable, which is always a plus when reading zombie/survival books. She wasn't exactly Rambo, but she gamely rose to all the decapitating challenges when presented.

Basically, I wouldn't kick her out of my zombie survival group.

But those other characters?

Yeah, none of them are getting invites.

The main guy Smitty was ok, but pretty immature. Not in the, "cute MG level" type of immature, but more in the give girls wedgies and harp on 5th grade level humor kind of immature. So while he was nice and ultimately a decent guy, he was also annoying. Then again, I'm OLD, so what do I know?

There's also the smart character, and while smart characters usually make my auto approve list for zombie/post-apoc catastrophes, this one had me seriously weighing their usefulness versus their irritating personality. At certain points I would have definitely opted to take my chances without that know it all. But, again, not all bad.

And finally, what would a zombie Breakfast Club be without the popular girl? She's entirely stereotypical and there really isn't much else to say about her than that.

Taken all together, the motley group was at times funny and endearing, but also frequently irritating. Though it was a mild irritating, so there's that.

But so what?

The thing is, the characters don't need to be all that great. Do you look for likable characters with incredible depth when watching horror movies? No!

Undead is not supposed to be a deep book and the characters aren't supposed to be super developed or likable (think fairy tale characters). The plot is what's important here, and the plot is pretty decent.

Everything moves at a brisk enough pace and the setting changes often enough that I never got bored with where we were or what we were doing. It was predictable in some regards (obviously Smitty and the MC will fall for each other), but I was surprised several times by the direction the plot took. In a good way.

And even though I didn't love any of the characters, I was attached enough that I cared what happened to them. There were a few times where I was at the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next and if everyone would make it out okay.

Sometimes what did happen next was kind of far fetched verging on ridiculous, but I thought that was part of the charm of Undead. This isn't a book that takes itself seriously, and I had a lot of fun with that.

Bottom line

Undead won't be making it on the top adolescent literature lists anytime soon, but I can already hear the giddy buzz brewing among my tweens (girls AND boys!). I have a feeling this one will get passed around my library and school district through lots of word of mouth.

The zombies are more of the Evil Dead gross but funny variety, so scaredy cats like myself needn't worry. Among my readers, I think this will be more popular with the tweens, but I know at least a handful of teens will also enjoy it.

For myself, I had fun with Undead. I wouldn't rush out to buy it, but I'd check out the sequel or another book by the author if it came into my library system. The ending most definitely leads into a sequel and readers who become attached to the story will probably be pretty desperate to get their hands on the next book. Me? I'm okay waiting, but I'm still curious to find out what happens next.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Undead that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Looking for another book like this? 
You might like: 

Click on the covers to go to my reviews.


  1. Finally back from my blogging break!

    I haven't seen too many reviews for this one but the ones I've read found this one either okay or disappointing. I probably won't be reading this one but it's good to know that at least you were entertained while reading it. And, the cover is awesome!

    1. *HUGS* So glad you're back!!! I'd put it solidly in the "Okay" column. The cover is pretty awesome. :)

  2. Uh, interesting! Thanks for the bit about the expectations, It sounds like a pretty harmless, inconsequential book, without that making it bad. Sadly, I'm not that into Zombies.

    Still, it does sound fun.

    1. You sum it up perfectly. :D I think you'd have to be fairly into zombies to like this one though.

  3. LOL, I have the feeling this book really isn't my style. I'm not big on zombies to begin with, so I think I'd be depending on other aspects (like the characterization and relationships) to hold my interest...which it sounds like it wouldn't. I'm also not a fan of gender-ambiguous narration, because usually it means I end up obsessing over figuring out whether the narrator is a boy or girl rather than actually paying much attention to what they're saying! Also, is it just me, or is the cover quite similar to the Stacey Jay "Undead" series? I thought at first this one *was* one of the books in that series until I realized it was a different author.

    1. nope, doesn't sound like the book for you! :) I dislike gender-ambiguous narration for that reason too. I groaned out loud when I looked at the blurb to try to see if I could get any clue from the MC's name. Gender-ambiguous name too!

      YES! The cover totally looks like one of Stacey Jay's Undead books. I wonder if that was intentional.

  4. Hmm, I don't think this is something I'd like. It sounds a little light for me. I guess I'm not really into zombies, at least this tamer, kinda funny version. I guess I like my zombies corrupt and evil like in Outpost. Thanks for the informative review.

    1. haha, well these are bad zombies for sure, but the overall feel of the book is light. I can see you liking it, but maybe not loving it.

  5. I'm not much of a zombie reader, but I might read it for fun. Maybe.

    Anyway, great review!

    1. It's a good book to read for fun. Light, quick, and minimal effort. Thanks!

  6. I'm not a horror movie/book fan but I love the helpful review. Some books aren't supposed to require a ton of thought and this one sounds like one of those.

    1. Thanks! Yes, exactly that. Sometimes it's nice to read something light like this.

  7. I read this in the fall for Something Wicked and I had a good time with it. Hated the cliffie and loved the bus roaring over the zombies. I am glad I am not the only one who was confused about Bobbi's gender.


It's all about friendly conversation here at Small Review :) I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Be sure to check back again because I do make every effort to reply to your comments here.

Because I am absolutely terrible about following through with blog awards, I can't in good conscience accept any more. Thank you very much for thinking of me though!

Spam WILL be deleted. Attacks on myself or other comments WILL be deleted.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...