Thursday, May 14, 2009

Book Reviews: Generation Dead and Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters

KISS OF LIFE, sequel to last year’s GENERATION DEAD, came out on Tuesday and I read both of them last week in Lisbon. Since plot points are running together in my mind, I’m just going to review them both as one with no major spoilers.

All over the US, newly dead teens are reanimating. But these aren’t your typical zombies – they are merely “differently biotic” and they just want to continue living with their families and going to school. For whatever reason, there are ton of them at Oakvale High School and non-dead goth girl Phoebe becomes their number one sympathizer and supporter. But not everyone is so accepting of the “living impaired”…

GENERATION DEAD got very mixed reviews – some praised it for its themes of tolerance while others derided it for its stereotypical and one-dimensional characters and overtly preachy tone. KISS OF LIFE is really more of the same, though it does add some novelty with long passages straight from the mind of a zombie (choppy and annoying to read, but certainly innovative). While the whole concept is intriguing, 800 pages of zombie inaction prove there just isn’t enough inherent drama in a bunch of peaceful zombies who yearn to be loved.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some bright spots. Waters humorously skewers goth culture and marketers by inventing a whole line of products ostensibly for zombies but really for zombie wannabes. The Slydellco products include t-shirts with snappy sayings, Z (the body spray for the active Undead Male), Lady Z, and Kiss of Life lip gloss worn to great effect by highly functioning zombie Karen who “passes” as alive to keep her salesgirl gig at the Oakvale Mall.

Speaking of Karen, she was probably my favorite character. See that model on the GENERATION DEAD cover? That could be Karen. But I guess it isn’t – because Karen isn’t a cheerleader. In fact, no zombies go out for cheerleading (false advertising!) which was kind of disappointing, really. In any case, Karen was the most lively and entertaining of all the characters and I would have preferred to have her as the main character instead of dull Phoebe (though I did love Phoebe’s bright wardrobe phase). Oh, and the KISS OF LIFE cover is inaccurate as well, just so you know.

KISS OF LIFE ends on a cliffhanger which has to mean there is a third book on its way. Not sure I am really up for another 400 pages of this story though.

23 comments:

MssJos said...

I feel much better now that someone has a similar take on these books! While I enjoyed them and it's one of few zombie novels I can manage to integrate into student reading, it definitely had it's flaws...I thought that was Karen on the first cover too! Great review!

Kate said...

I didn't enjoy "Generation Dead" much and I was sort of hoping that "Kiss of Life" would be better. I'll try it anyway. Thanks for the honest review.

Beth Kephart said...

Um.................

Alea said...

Misleading covers? I want to hear cover stories for these to see the thought behind them.

Chicklish said...

I love the sound of the zombie products! Thanks for the really interesting review.

Sadako said...

Yeah, misleading covers are interesting. They could be their own topic!

Anyway, cool review. Maybe I'll check it out. I agree about the zombie products, Chicklish.

Lenore said...

MssJos - I can see this being taught in a classroom definitely. It would make nice discussion material. For a book club too.

Kate - Always possible you'll like it better!

Beth - Yeah.

Alea - Me too!

Chicklish - Zombie products rule ;)

Sadako - Agreed!

robin_titan said...

This makes me glad I never picked up the books. I gotta say, even though I'm ashamed of it, I judged the book by it's cover. Actually not only it's cover but the synopsis and some reviews. It just did not sound like my type of book.

An award for you:
http://tvandbookaddict.blogspot.com/2009/05/kreativ-blogger-award.html

Lenore said...

robin - I actually really like both these covers. They made me want to read the books more than the summary did. Maybe that's why I was so disapointed that they were "false advertising"!

Doret said...

A coworker loved Generation Dead but I could not get into it. I read about half of it and put it down. I just didn't care enough about the characters.

Jen said...

My sister loves these, but I havent decided to read them or not. Are the bright spots work the zombieness?

Insert Book Title said...

I love these novels. LOVED them. Sorry to hear that you don't feel the same way.

Emily Ruth said...

I'm not big on the zombie thing. I've tried it, but it just doesn't hold me for some reason...
Maybe because there's no "life" in them? haha... anyway.

Elizabeth said...

I don't feel the need to read these, but the product descriptions did make me smile.

Reader Rabbit said...

Eeek, I was hoping Kiss of Life would be better..
But since it's not, I think I'll just not continue on reading the series. :)

Staci said...

And this is why I love reading your reviews! You're thoughtful and honest. I did have Generation Dead on my TBR list but seeing your final take has made me re-evaluate whether or not I absolutely have to read these books. They'll stay on the bottom of my list because there are truly so many other AMAZING books to get to first!!! Thanks Lenore!

Belle said...

A preachy zombie novel - it's very interesting. Not sure if it's up my alley but I loved your review.

Ladytink_534 said...

I picked up Generation Dead from the library finally but I haven't started it yet...

Mishel said...

To be honest, I never intended to read these books. I don't know if I was just not in a zombie mood at the time or if the covers just didn't appeal to me. However, I read a interview with the author a little while ago and had a change of heart. I'm planning on picking them up and at least giving Generation Dead a try.

Anonymous said...

i liked generation dead, but i haven't read generation dead kiss of life. i really want to though.
i dont know, i thought it was karen, then i thought it was going to turn out to be the girl adam dated, i thought she was going to be a zombie, b/c she is a cheerleader, but it does seem like karen

The Book Girl said...

Both of these books DO seem very love or hate, kind of like Twilight I suppose :-p. I was in love with Generation Dead, and was very much looking forward to this one. Now I'm not so sure, seeing as how there are a LOT of people not liking this one... I'm sorry you didn't like KoL. Guess I'll have to check it out and see what I think :-p.

Anonymous said...

honestly, the first book was a little boring to me. there wasnt much action at all until the end and the "romance" between pheobe and tommy was a little dull, i expected more of that i guess. though i like the whole "discrimination" idea between different biotics, remind me about racial discrimination and how sick people's minds can get. anyway, i thought the author improved a little more in the second book. i love the second one and i cant wait for the next. being very impatient ;p

Anonymous said...

Haha, I thought the model was Karen too. I was thinking that maybe it was her, like, before she died or whatever. lol maybe not