by Terrance Mc Arthur
Details on how to win a copy of Girl Z at the end of this review.
What’s a pretty Latina supposed to do when her skin turns gray and breaks open in gooey sores that don’t heal (I mean, she’s had breakouts before, but this is FIERCE!)? She can’t eat her favorite foods, and she has a wandering eye (Like, of course, she likes guys, but—REALLY—one eye keeps going off in other directions!)
In C. A. Verstraete’s Girl Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, Rebecca (Becca) Herrera Hayes and her bff cousin Carmella (Carm) Sanchez are surprised when Carm’s brother shows up on the porch and dies…after scratching Becca. She starts to show symptoms of the zombie disease and winds up in a hospital, but the infection can be controlled in the young and healthy (they become known as half-Zs), so she is sent back home and off to a terrifying world: high school. She discovers prejudice she never encountered as a pretty Hispanic girl in the Illinois-Wisconsin area.
Becca and Carm start off on a bad-driving road-trip odyssey to find their moms, trapped by the shuffling creatures. In many cases, they face greater danger from fear-crazed humans than from flesh-hungry zombies. The half-Zs come in many varieties: good and bad, determined to deal with the situation and determined to exploit the situation. Becca even finds love…when her body isn’t trying to audition for “The Walking Dead.”
You can actually look at this story as a parable about the teenage condition. An orderly life is upended by forces and urges that are difficult to control. People you trust turn on you, and sometimes you feel like you’re going to die. Yep, that’s being a teenager.
Verstraete, whose background runs from journalism to designing one-twelfth scale dollhouse rooms, has come up with a clever way of telling her story from a zombie point of view without sinking to the “Hungry…eat…BRAIINNSSS!” level. Despite becoming one of the living dead, Becca is definitely still a teenager: me-centered, petulant, obsessed with her outward appearance, and slightly boy-crazy. She has her pity-party moments, she can be snarky and insulting, and all this gives her a refreshing real-ness. She’s a girl who could talk your ear off…and eat it, too.
With Girl Z, Verstraete has shuffled to the head of the zombie-lit horde. May she never stumble!
To enter to win a copy of Girl Z, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Z,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 10, 2013. U.S. residents only.