Phoebe is just your typical
goth girl with a crush.
He's strong and silent...
A strange event is occurring across the country. Some teenagers are dying but they don't stay dead. For some reason they have come back to life, but it's a different life. The proper terms are "living impaired" and "differently biotic" but many people call them "the dead kids" or "zombies". These teens are trying to find their place in society and even their own homes again but it's not easy. Most people don't want to be with them and the kids at Oakvale High School are no exception. The dead kids are shunned and spend most of their time alone. They have few friends and no one to protect them, not even the law. And some people take advantage of that and intend for them to go away, forever.
Tommy Williams is smart, handsome, polite and a great football players. He's also the leader of the dead kids. He quietly protects and helps others like him. Phoebe Kendall is a goth girl who has always kept to herself. She spends most of her time with her friend Margi who also loves goth, and her neighbor and friend Adam who is the star of the football team. When Phoebe meets Tommy she develops feelings for him and isn't sure what to do about it. A relationship between a live girl and a dead boy is unheard of. And Adam has realized that he wants to be more than just friends with Phoebe. He cares deeply for her but he doesn't know if she feels the same way about him. He wants her to be happy more than anything and he wonders if that means letting her go to be with Tommy.
When I first started this book I thought it would be a fun, creepy read like those I fell in love with as a kid and still enjoy today. I was quite surprised by the theme of this story. The dead kids weren't depicted the way they usually are in zombie movies. Most of them were less coordinated and often had a blank stare but they weren't ugly and gross. They also had different ability levels. The emphasis wasn't on the kids being dead, it was all about them being different. They were subjected to racism and hate crimes. They were persecuted, shunned, they faced extreme prejudice and some even faced injury or death. And since they weren't even considered citizens anymore, they had no rights and or legal recourse.
Although it had teen romance and peer pressure, the main theme was about larger social issues. I thought it was very effective to combine it with the popular trends of young adult entertainment. The ugly way these kids were treated, just because of who they were, has been an unfortunate part of our history since the beginning of time. It's a great reminder of just how dangerous it can be. I'll be looking for the new sequel Kiss of Life (5/09) to see where the story goes next.
Author's website: danielwaters.com
Tommy's website: mysocalledundeath.com
Release date: 5/08
Type: young adult fiction
Age: grades 9 and up