Generation Dead is a book you should not judge by its cover. I hate the cover; it makes the book seem like stupid meaningless zombie fluff about dead cheerleaders. First of all, as far as I could tell, none of the main characters were cheerleaders in life or death, only a tiny insignificant alive character. Second of all, this is not meaningless fluff! It’s seriously awesome. But, yes, there are zombies.
In this book, there is a strange new phenomenon discovered in American teenagers. Some of them have started to come back to life after dying. Not all, and only Americans, and only teenagers. These “differently biotic” people (as is the politically correct term) are slower to move or speak than they were in life, but they’re still sort of alive. They don’t need to eat and their organs don’t work, and they are officially dead (and therefore not able to have library cards or driver’s licenses or vote or anything). Nobody knows why this is happening, but these kids, as anyone does who is in some way different, face a lot of prejudice, everything from being called names like “corpsicle” to being burned alive–or undead, as the case may be–something there are no laws in place to prevent.
Phoebe Kendall is a living student at a school with a comparatively high number of differently biotic students. Some of them can hardly walk and function, while others could practically pass for living, but no one knows why these disparities exist. As with everything else about the differently biotic, it’s a mystery. Anyway, Tommy Williams is something of a leader among the dead kids, or zombies as they sometimes call themselves, and when Phoebe starts to notice Tommy, to dare to speak to him and then tell him he’s brave when he goes out for the football team alongside all the living kids, she has really opened a can of worms. Her friends Margi and Adam can hardly believe it. Phoebe, with her goth wardrobe and tendency to be a little anti-social, was already on the outskirts of her high school’s social order, but she’s seriously becoming a target if she keeps hanging out with the zombies. Because of her, Phoebe and her friends get involved with an organization whose purpose is to help integrate the differently biotic into society, as well as with many of the dead kids themselves. This organization might be a little fishy, though, and hanging out with a bunch of zombies could get them into more trouble than they bargained for…
Okay, that might not be the best summary ever. But I think it’s better than the summary on the back of the book, which is nearly as bad as the cover. Anyway, I adored this book! It’s really original and witty and interesting, and seriously unputdownable. I loved the characters, living and undead. This book is quite thought-provoking, too; it brings up some serious issues about the treatment of minorities. Daniel Waters‘ first novel is funny, smart, and just plain awesome. It’s got romance and zombies and great writing and fantastic characters and, best of all, it seems like it’s set up to have a sequel! Read this book as soon as possible. It’s available in bookstores near you right now.