Archive for Zombies

Booktalk: Sick by Tom Leveen


When I was looking for scary books to booktalk this month, I found an advanced readers copy of this book in the pile on my desk.  The title and the great cover illustration caught my eye, as well as the tagline “High school is full of monsters.”  When I read the back cover and saw that they were calling this book “The Breakfast Club meets The Walking Dead,” I knew that I HAD to read it.

Sick is a great book to share with reluctant readers, because the story is exciting, the violence is gruesome, and the language is … shall we say … realistic to the high-school experience.  Visit Tom Leveen’s website to learn more about this book and the other novels he’s written for teens.


Brian and his friends decided to cut out of school in the middle of the day.  That’s one of the main reasons they’re still alive right now.  By the time they came back to school later that afternoon, the outbreak had already started to spread.

It started with students fighting other students.  But these were no ordinary fights.  You see, infected students were attacking healthy students.  They attacked their victims by knocking them to the ground.  Biting their arms.  Clawing their faces.  Ripping out their throats.  Some of their victims died instantly, but some of them weren’t so lucky.  Some of them became infected, and they started hunting for victims of their own.

Brian and his friends are safe, for now, in the theater department.  But Brian can’t just think about himself.  There’s his sister Mackenzie, and his ex-girlfriend Laura.  They’re somewhere in one of the school buildings.  Maybe they’re alive, and they need to be rescued.  Maybe they’re dead.  Or maybe they’re worse than dead — maybe they’ve already been infected, and they’re just waiting for someone to bite.

Teen Horror Books: Vampires, Zombies, and More!

Strange Angels coverRot and RuinColdest Girl in Coldtown cover

In this episode, I give a brief overview of one of my favorite genres and talk about the horror authors I used to read when I was growing up.  Then I talk about some of my favorite teen horror novels that you can find on library and bookstore shelves today:

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
iDrakula by Bekka Black
Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Booktalk: Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Generation Dead is a zombie novel, but it’s not the one-dimensional “scary monster” story you might expect.  This is the story about what happens when people come back from the dead, and then the rest of society tries (or fails) to make room for them.  Horror fans will enjoy the scary elements, and thoughtful readers will take the opportunity to examine the sociological implications of whether or not zombies have “human rights” that deserve to be protected.

You can learn more about the Generation Dead series at Daniel Waters’ blog or at


Tommy Williams is trying out for the football team.  This wouldn’t be so unusual, except for the fact that Tommy is dead.  Well, to clarify, he isn’t dead exactly.  He’s differently biotic.  Living impaired.  A zombie, if you will.  Tommy Williams is just one of the many teenagers across the country who won’t stay dead.  Hundreds and thousands of formerly dead teenagers are coming out of their graves, and returning to the things that used to be familiar to them.  Like home, like school, and like football.  There’s been a lot of resistance from the living to the whole idea of dead teenagers coming back to life.  What rights should they have?  What should we call them?  Why did they come back to life?   And how can you make somebody die and STAY dead?  A boy trying out for the football team shouldn’t be that unusual.  But when the recently dead Tommy Williams tries out for this football team, and he proves to be a better and stronger player than many of his living teammates, it’s like lighting the fuse attached to a stick of dynamite.  Because a zombie who tries out for the football team is a zombie who’s crossing the line.  And a lot of kids at Oakvale High plan to teach Tommy Williams a lesson.

Booktalk: Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

I first read Rot and Ruin because a fellow librarian and blogger had recommended it, and because I enjoy both dystopian fiction and zombies.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it wasn’t just a zombie book (which you might think by looking at the cover), but it also has some very memorable and empathetic characters.  I recently booktalked Rot and Ruin for several 9th grade classes, but I think that this would be an excellent choice to share with any kids in 7th grade and up.  I expect that I’ll also be booktalking this to middle school classes in the fall. 

You can learn more about this book on Maberry’s website.  And BTW, this book is the beginning of a series.  The next book, Dust and Decay, is coming out in August, and I can’t wait to read it!

I’ve decided that I’m going to include the text of each booktalk here on the website, so that if you’re interested in using or adapting my booktalks you can just copy and paste them.  So here we go …


Fourteen years ago, there was a zombie apocalypse.  Today, Benny Imura is fifteen years old.  The only memory he has of his parents is of an event that took place when he was just a baby.  That’s when Benny saw his father, who had already turned into a zombie, attack his mother.  Benny’s brother Tom saved his life, but Benny never saw his parents again.  Now Benny is fifteen years old, and it’s time for him to get a
job.  Either that, or get his food rations cut in half.  Benny tries a
couple of different jobs, but each one is so backbreaking, or boring, or disgusting that he turns it down.  Which leaves him with only one choice.  Work with his brother Tom and learn how to be a bounty hunter.  Leave the safety of the town, go outside the fences, and go out into the wide and dangerous world where he will kill zombies for a living.

It almost sounds like a dream job — he’ll be able to get revenge on the disease that destroyed his family and killed and reanimated billions of people.  But it turns out that being a bounty hunter means learning more about the zombies than he ever imagined.  As Benny follows in his brother’s footsteps, he discovers that he has a lot to learn … about men and monsters, about life and death, and about cruelty and compassion.