Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Zombie Review: Dead Guy Spy

Dead Guy Spy by David Lubar

See the review of My Rotten Life, the first book in this series, here.

ZPAA rating

8 years old and up

Gore level

2 out of 10--There's hardly any gore in this one: one exploding animal (organic); many exploding animals (mechanical); one massive puking/gas scene that sends characters screaming and/or passing out.

Other offensive content

Bad attitudes among the school children; climbing an electrified fence (which isn't fatal if you're already dead, though it is kinda unpleasant).

How much zombie mythology/content

After his bath in Hurt-Be-Gone formula that renders him insensitive to pain, stress, or any other feelings, Nathan seems to have achieved an equilibrium in his zombie state, though his bones are becoming more brittle. No mindless shambling horror here.

How much fun

This series of junior fiction books is shaping up to be quite the fun read. The story is entertaining. The characters are likable. The situations are interesting and well thought out.

Synopsis & Review

SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE FIRST BOOK: Our hero Nathan Abercrombie is now set in his path of zombiehood. The hoped for cure had to be given up to save his friend Abigail.

Nathan's come to embrace being a zombie and even begins to plan what he will do with his new found power. Like the child Cole in The Sixth Sense, he plans to use his special powers to help others. At first, Nathan plans to be a superhero but doesn't know how to pull it off. Then he notices that he is being followed by some suspicious looking bushes with human feet. Mechanical animals are also keeping an eye on him. Someone is stalking him in the on-line game he's been playing in his sleepless wee hours of the night.

He's finally approached by an agent of BUM (the Bureau of Useful Misadventures, whose acronym is certainly the butt of many jokes) with a deal: they will help him stay in one piece if he'll help them with some spy work. Being a spy is almost like being a superhero, isn't it? It turns out to be a lot more ambiguous. Is BUM working for or against the government? Are they really helping people or hurting them? Can his friends Abigail and Mookie help him figure out what to do?

This book is an enjoyable read. The school scenes are funny and Nathan's home life is developed more. It's nice to see a dad who isn't an idiot or comic relief, but really concerned about and involved in his son's life, even if he doesn't know about his son's special abilities. The only detractor is that the story takes a while to get to the BUM recruitment. I particularly enjoyed the debate over whether it's okay to be a spy and is this organization really one of the "good guys"?

The book includes a chapter from the next book and a reader's guide with study questions and activities.

Sample Text

We were less than half a block away when the thing inside the car exploded, blowing the doors off the car. A moment later, the car exploded, too. But I'd saved us. I couldn't help imagining the applause of a crowd of spectators. I could almost hear their conversations.
    Who is that amazing zombie hero?
    So dead, and yet so brave.
    I want to be like him when I die.

    "What next?" Mookie asked as we jogged away. "Helicopters? Flying saucers? Guys with jet packs?"
    "I wish I knew."
    Mookie looked back over his shoulder. "I never thought hanging out with a dead guy could get you killed."  (pages 39-40)

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