Dead City


Author: James Ponti

Publication: 2012, Aladdin

Pages: 277

Overall Rating: bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]

Rating for Action: bth_3-star-rating_zps73bdba73[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_3-star-rating_zps73bdba73[1]

Age Category: 9-12

Brief Summary: Molly is a science geek who spends her summers hanging out at the morgue. Her mom used to be a medical examiner and took Molly to work with her. After she died, Molly just kept going. This summer, Molly finally made her first real friend – Natalie, an older student from her school who also happens to be an intern at the morgue. Molly wonders if it’s just a fluke until she goes back to school and discovers that Natalie befriended her for a reason. She’s an Omega – part of a secret organization established to police and protect Manhattan’s population of zombies – and she wants to recruit Molly. Zombies? Well, as Molly learns, the Manhattan schist – a unique type of rock that forms the bedrock of the island – contains a form of energy that can bring the dead back to life. But being a zombie cop isn’t all fun and games, because Molly has enemies in the zombie world – enemies who will do anything to stomp her out.

Age of Main Character: 12

What I Liked the Most: Dead City has a light, flippant tone and a great voice. It’s easy to get sucked into Molly’s character. And even though Molly has suffered a great deal in her life – from the death of her mother to a mugging that brought on a paralyzing fear of heights – it’s all handled with the kind of humor that makes this book a breeze to read.

So instead of watching Molly mope about her lack of a social life – and the fact she doesn’t make her first real friend until the 7th grade – we instead get little gems like this:

Grayson told me it normally takes six to eight weeks to finish and I was done in four… I tried not to let it go to my head. Still, it was kind of cool. And if you haven’t noticed, ‘cool’ and ‘my life’ aren’t very well acquainted.

The biggest advantage of finishing early was that the team wasn’t ready for my final exam. That meant, with the exception of Thursday’s fencing practice, I had a week completely free to catch up on school work. And, yes, I do realize being excited about having time to catch up on schoolwork might explain why “cool” and “my life” are such strangers.

What I Liked the Least: I had some trouble with how zombies are created in Ponti’s world. I have no problem with the fact that he’s all but thrown the zombie genre on its head – making many zombies into intelligent and capable people who can pass for the living. But the zombies in this book don’t pass the zombie infection through blood and saliva. They don’t try to eat people. And in the 120 years since the first Manhattan zombie came into existence there are still only 1,000 of them on the entire island – so it’s hardly as though everyone who gets buried in Manhattan becomes a zombie. So how does it happen? How does someone become a zombie? We never find out, and with zombies that feels like a pretty big hole.

My other problem with the book came right at the end. First off, it ends on a cliffhanger. I know some people like that, but personally I find it annoying and even a bit cheap. Second, without giving too much away, Molly survives her final battle by being rescued – and the rescue comes completely out of the blue. It has a big impact – and I kind of liked who the rescuer was – but that doesn’t make up for the fact that Ponti threw his main character into a situation so bad they couldn’t get themselves out of it without a surprise rescue, and worse yet it came at the very climax of the book.

How Good was the Action? Okay, but nothing to get excited about. There’s not a lot of action here, and what there was is a bit too slow to be really exciting. It gets the job done, and one of the scenes was actually kind of fun. But there’s nothing to rev up the adrenaline and get your blood pumping.

How Engaging was the Story? I loved Molly’s character. She’s got a great voice that drew me in from page one. I liked the fact that she had a zombie fighting legacy, and that certain parts of her past she was only beginning to discover fed into her current life as an Omega and drove the story forward in new and unexpected ways – forcing Molly to take some very big risks.

Overall Assessment: A fun, swashbuckling zombie adventure that’s very light on the blood and mayhem. It’s more zombie detective novel than zombie apocalypse. And the story is driven by Molly’s intelligence and spunky attitude, while staying light on the action. A solid introduction to zombies for the younger set.

Profanity: None

Sex: None

Violence: Some – zombies don’t bleed, but they also don’t feel pain. So Molly battles zombies with glass dug into their flash, broken fingers, and legs hanging by a shred. She even cuts someone’s hand off.

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