Wednesday, September 16, 2009Margot had sworn to herself that she would make high school a much better experience than junior high had been. She and her best friend, Sybil, had together carefully planned the perfect high school career. However, three years into high school and Margot is still yet to achieve any of the goals outlined in her manifesto. She a Sybil aren't popular, they don't go to cool parties, and they don't have boyfriends.
Then one day Margot and Sybil go to school as usual only to find that their fellow students have become zombies. Sense memory seems to compel the zombie students and teachers to attend school as normal. Principal Taft urges the girls to coexist with zombies and continue attending school for the rest of the semester as though everything were perfectly normal. Being the only two living students left in the school, the girls realise that this is their opportunity to live out their manifesto and become the it-girls of Salesian High.
I don't think that I've ever read a zombie book before that I would call cute but there is a first time for everything. Never Slow Dance with a Zombie makes for easy, light hearted reading.
In some ways, I suppose you can say that NSDWAZ can be called Mean Girls meets Dawn of the Dead. The focus of the story, though, is more on the path to becoming a Queen Bee and the ugliness that it can bring out in a person. How far would you go to become the it-girl? Would you lie? Hurt your best friend? Take advantage of the mindless zombie state of your crush and make him be your boyfriend? In exploring the it-girl theme I thought that a number of cliché themes were also used but this didn't necessarily detract from the book. They were used, for example, to set up the tension between Margot and Amanda Culpepper, Queen Bee at Salesian High.
Being set in an American high school, the book also addresses cliques and that people should socialise outside their set social groups. I always find cliques weird to read about as part of the student experience. Maybe it's because Australian public schools mostly have uniforms, or because we don't have such large student populations in our schools, but I never experienced such defined cliques. Oh, sure, there were people who were popular or athletic or nerdy and we had a few people that were into punk in my grade, but they didn't divide themselves into social groups and shun others who didn't fit in. I remember someone once actually getting offended when she was called popular because of the stereotype it implies!
I quite liked Margot and how E. Van Lowe has channelled a teenage girl. I liked Margot's attitude towards herself and her body image, that she could admit that she was not skinny but still call herself cute and dress in flattering clothing. I thought that opening with her application cover letter to a college was a nice opening and I loved her sick letters that she forged from her parents to get out of P.E. Oh, how I too hated phys ed.
Never Slow Dance with a Zombie is a cute and quirky approach to both the zombie genre and the high school experience. I have seen some mixed reviews for this one but if you are looking for a light hearted, easy read to relax and have a little chuckle over this one is worth a try.
You can also go to the author's website to check out lots of extras such as his blog (including an aleternate/deleted scence!), Margot's blog, contests, and more.
Thanks again go to Velvet for the signed copy.