Golden, Christopher. The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010. ISBN 978-0312559717 400 pp. $
This strong collection centered on the reanimated begins with a take on the story of Lazurus, casting him as a zombie, and concludes with a tale using Twitter as a plot device–a girl on a forced family vacation posts frequent disdainful updates about the road trip and how much she hates her mom. The family detours to see a circus act, and thinks the special effects are so realistic! until they realize it’s a zombie circus! This was a fabulous story, but the 140 character posts (complete with proper punctuation) don’t utilize any chat speak, so come off an inauthentic, though, the voice is a good attempt. With a true Twitter feed, the story would be posted most to least recent. It’s possible the ending would have been given away by doing this (an editors note to flip to the final page and read BACK could have taken care of this), but it made the story not ring as true. A feed at http://twitter.com/tyme2waste is a pretty clever
Several stories in between are concerned with the return of soldiers. One is experimental and repetitive and hard to get through. Two have wonderfully inventive premises, one casting zombies as servants, another as science experiments. Two stories in particular really stood out to me: one, titled Family Business, is about two brothers; Tommy, the elder is a zombie hunter, and his younger brother Benny, who has just turned 15, is reluctant to join him, and explores a variety of jobs generated through necessity after a zombie invasion, and finally goes on a ride along with his brother, and finds it enlightening. This was a wonderful story on so many levels–easy to relate to characters, highly readable, teen protagonist, creativity and humor, well written.
Golden has assembled an impressive array of writers to deliver sexy, profane, gory, and thought provokingly macabre stories, cleverly arranged, and well edited. Move over, vampires and werewolves–ZOMG ZOMBIES! are the new hawtness.
Golden, Christopher. Force Majeure. Simon Pulse, 2002. ISBN 978-0743426701 400 pp. $
As if we didn’t have enough to worry about with the bioterrorism threat, now we have to be concerned about manufactured weather that could be used as a weapon. College student and super genius Shane is thrilled to have figured out how to create a tornado in a lab, thinking his discovery is pure science to be used to predict weather; when it turns out he is actually working for a secret government agency interested in using his experiment for harm, he walks out of the project–but when a series of suspicious weather patterns indicate someone has stolen his idea, a confrontation with his supervisor results in everyone whose lives he touches being in danger–as is his own.
This is a high drama tale that would translate well to film. The plot itself is unpredictable but not completely outrageous. The premise of the existence of a group of Truth Seekers working to stall government plots borders on X-Files but could lend itself well to a whole series of books.
Golden, Christopher. Head Games. Simon Pulse, 2000. ISBN 978-0671775827 256 pp. $
New Englander and college frosh Jenna Blake lands a job as a diener (look it up!) and in between her classes and her social life, assists with autopsies and crime-fighting. In this fifth title in the series, there are TWO mysteries: the mayor of Jenna’s hometown has been murdered, and local teens seem to be having breakdowns that result in homicide. With her support system home for the holidays, can Jenna crack these cases? Are they related?
As it turns out, they are not. The title refers to the second set of murders, and the first case occasionally becomes a distraction. Had the only focus of the book been the teens who murdered their families as if brainwashed or drugged, the book may have been stronger. The dual plot does show how well Jenna and her boss work together as a team and how much they have come to rely on one another as colleagues, not just teacher/student.
Golden makes an important statement through his heroine in Jenna’s passionate soapbox speech about the media’s readiness to blame violent behavior in young people on video games and the internet, when factors such as environment and biology/genetics play an obviously larger role (Golden’s acknowledgment of Columbine perhaps?) Yay Jenna! Yay Chris, for being such a youth advocate!
Body of Evidence is an excellent mystery series for teens. The cultural and topical references are fun and up to the minute. Golden builds suspense with scene shifts that allow the reader to catch a glimpse into the murderer’s psyche–or the victim’s. Jenna is only a freshman, and has 3 1/2 years of college ahead of her… plenty of stories left to tell. How lucky for fans of the series!