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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Review: Donna of the Dead by Alison Kemper

Title: Donna of the Dead
Author: Alison Kemper
Publisher: Entangled
Pub. Date: March 4, 2014
Genre: Young Adult
Rec. Age Level: 14+

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Cruises are a routine event when your dad works on cruise ships for a living, but what should be a laid back trip takes a turn for the deadly when a mysterious illness finds its way on board. Donna is in the middle of the ocean with her dad and, much to Donna’s annoyance, his dad’s older girlfriend and her grandson, Donna’s classmate, Deke, when the first reports of a debilitating illness that leaves the infected looking suspiciously like zombies take over the news. Donna pays little attention to the reports, after all, she has her own problems, like why Deke is acting so weird, whether her best friend, who hasn’t been answering her calls, is mad at her, and figuring out if the odd voices she keeps hearing in her head mean she’s crazy. When the fast acting illness takes over the ship, turning everyone on board into zombies except Donna and her family, it’s the voices that keep her one step ahead of the zombies. Donna and Zeke make it off the ship, but are forced to leave her dad and his grandmother on board. The adults assure Donna and Zeke they have a plan to make it off the ship and send them inland to search for shelter and safety in the meantime. When they stumble across a ragtag group of classmates barricaded within their high school, including Donna’s longtime crush, Liam, Donna and Zeke join the group hoping that, together, they can survive long enough for Donna’s dad to come up with a safe, zombie-free hiding place. As the situation escalates, the teens struggle to put aside their differences and rivalries to outlast and outsmart the growing horde of zombies surround the school. Some will break under the pressure, losing their grip on reality, some will be rescued by a pepper spray wielding librarian, and some will experience the magic of a first kiss in the is thrilling and laugh-out-loud funny zombie-filled coming of age story from Alison Kemper.

I have a weakness for apocalyptic zombie stories, so of course I had to read Alison Kemper’s Donna of the Dead. While this story wasn’t particularly unique and surprising, I still enjoyed it and had a hard time putting it down. The great thing about this particular premise is that it doesn’t have to be entirely original, the predictability is half of the fun!

My opinion on Donna wavered throughout the book. Sometimes she her selfishness and tendency towards self-preservation was infuriating, but she finally pulled it together in the latter half of the novel. Deke, on the other hand, I loved from the start. I liked that Kemper allowed a guy who, in Donna’s eyes, is a nerdy video game player to become the hero. After all, he’s spent years virtually training for a zombie takedown. Gotta love an underdog!

I did feel like some of the details that played an important role within the novel weren’t fully explained or fleshed out. Some elements just felt rushed and haphazard.  I think those issues could be remedied with a second book about Donna or, if not about Donna, at least set in the same world. Still, I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from Kemper!


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