PJ Quickie: DONNA OF THE DEAD offers a not-so-standard story involving a teenage girl and zombies. There’s enough hope maintained throughout the pages that the characters’ perseverance never seems pointless. Out of all the ‘monster’ genres, zombie books have often pissed me off for this reason. Even if everyone will die a horrible death in the end, I prefer thinking that there is even a remote possibility that the characters will end up having a happy ending. Call me crazy, but I don’t enjoy guaranteed sad endings anymore than guaranteed happily-ever-after endings. With DONNA OF THE DEAD, I knew that there was a chance that Donna would be rescued, that the cure could happen, and that she might not pick the obvious choice in the love triangle.
Review: Many zombie books follow the same pattern: virus, human stupidity, mass infection, characters die. Judging by the blurb, it sounded like DONNA OF THE DEAD would break the mold set by other books in the genre. Fortunately, it delivers in all aspects. DONNA OF THE DEAD manages to acts like a paranormal romance without bastardizing the zombies. These zombies aren’t necessarily dead, but they do act like flesh-eating monsters. There are a couple of ‘deaths’ in this book, although the way the virus works people don’t actually have to die to become zombies. But, if you kill a zombie…the person IS dead.
The reason this book is more of a paranormal romance than horror is because there isn’t that feeling of dread. Donna manages to maintain a light at the end of the tunnel and never totally switches to survival mode. There’s enough hope left in her and the other teenage characters that they can act like teenagers.
Not only does Donna hear voices, but she also is an anti-hero. She’s cowardly, selfish, and partially insane. While the rest of the world battles zombies, Donna is trying to figure out how to make this cute boy she likes…like her. There is a love triangle, but the chemistry is so amazing between Donna and the boys that I absolutely loved it. Deke is the nerdy best friend – who I related to way too much. Liam is the cute boy – who manages enough mystery to not completely dismiss him as an asshole.
I did have some reservations about the kids drinking from an algae infested fountain and not getting sick. The fact that they bathed in the fountain and drank the water was a bit of an ‘ick’ factor for me. Besides that, I really enjoyed all aspects of the story. It’s a refreshing spin on zombies. It’s fun yet serious. This would be a perfect novel for people who don’t enjoy horror, but still love their monsters. If you do love horror, then consider this horror-lite. The underlying story is scary. The focus of the story is not. Overall, I absolutely loved this book.
(Check out Parajunkee’s interview with the author, Alison Kemper, and enter to win DONNA OF THE DEAD swag.)