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.
I really like the cover of this novel, and I was truly looking forward to reading this story, especially because I enjoy zombie books and I’m always looking for new books to push on my high school students. But, while I liked the novel for the most part, I felt like it was a little too fast paced, too convenient, and too middle grade for me, personally. The novel starts off with Bobby sulking in the back of her school bus, refusing to get off and use the bathroom. She watches students pile into the restaurant and wishes for friends, to be home, etc. Soon after, she finds herself stuck on the bus with a particularly arrogant student who makes too many jokes, and soon after that, all hell breaks loose.
I felt like the novel went from 0 to 60 in a matter of pages, and while some readers may like jumping right into the midst of a story, I felt left behind. The characters were suddenly running around trying to figure things out, stay away from the zombies, all while trying to get to safety and I just felt like I missed something. I think it’s because I didn’t have any time to make connections with the characters before they found themselves in peril. I never did feel anything for the characters as I read—no sadness over deaths, no fear for their safety. Instead, I found the plot a bit too convenient. Here the survivors are, surrounded by zombies, driving a school bus through blizzard like conditions, and suddenly they find themselves at a castle that holds all the secrets. Too perfect for me, but honestly, I think this would be a great read for middle schoolers. I teach high school, and I don’t see most of my students being enthralled by this novel, but I think it’s perfect for the younger crowd. The writing, especially, lends itself to youngsters. Just take a look at the synopsis. The entire novel is written in the same type of format as the synopsis, and while I knew that was probably the case going in, I didn’t think it would actually affect my reading of the novel. It did. Things that would have come across as funny to younger readers just made me roll my eyes, and the characters began to test my nerves after a while. Of course, having no connection with them could be another reason behind that, but I just found that this novel never really drew me in past enjoying the mayhem. I liked it, but I wasn’t in love with it, like I sometimes am with MG novels, but that doesn’t mean others won’t enjoy it! If you like really fast paced novels and the way the synopsis is written (or if your kids do), then I highly suggest checking this one out. Otherwise, I’m not sure how you’ll feel about it. Three stars.
Scholastic and Chicken House have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release on September 1, 2012.