Reviews for Z
Booklist Reviews 2010 November #2
Josh is addicted to a virtual-reality zombie-killing game, and his skills get him noticed by people who take the game to a whole new and very real level. He finds himself enmeshed in an enterprise involved in everything from creating fresh zombies to manufacturing illegal drugs. When friends begin to appear as zombie targets, things unravel quickly, and Josh must choose his allies wisely to get out alive. Ford expertly builds the tension in this long, escalating thrill ride. Subplots about friendship and first love are woven lightly but deftly through the action in a way that keeps the focus on the game. There are blatant parallels between the virus that creates zombies (from humans) and HIV, giving this book some potential as a conversational door-opener for a weighty topic. The frenetic action and near-future gadgetry make this a good choice to hand to graduates of Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider books or perhaps fans of Vivian Vande Velde's Heir Apparent (2002) or Neal Shusterman's Full Tilt (2003). Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Josh's skill in a virtual reality zombie-hunting game gets him recruited for a real-life version. He becomes suspicious of the game organizer's motives when he encounters overly realistic "animatronic" zombies and a recreational drug that mimics a zombie's instinct-only mental state. Though the novel starts off like an Ender's Game derivative, Ford raises thoughtful questions about humanity's own capacity for monstrosity and mindlessness. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2010 August #1
Fifteen years after the zombie plague destroyed families and threatened the world, the ravenous creatures are once again confined to the video-game realm. Recruited by a shadowy live-action gaming group to battle against animatronic zombies, Josh is thrilled to show off his gaming prowess. But as his friends vanish and the gore increases, he realizes that the game may be more real than he knows. Ford leaps in with flamethrowers blazing and burns through pages at a rapid pace. There's very little character development, but readers who want zombies with personality have Daniel Waters's Generation Dead (2008) to turn to for that--the point here is nonstop movement. An ominous feeling shadows Josh's world, and its tension is nicely reflected in the blend of action and horror. The horrific revelation, the generic cast, the cliffhanger ending—these are all standard zombie fare, but the author manages to make the expected exciting again. For a quick escape, this is a sure-fire way to burn time. (Horror. 12 & up)
Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews
It's not all fun and games when make-believe zombie-hunting turns violent in this fast-paced futuristic thriller. Fifteen years after a vaccine was developed against the zombie flu, the hungry undead are a thing of the past, relegated to bad memories and virtual games, such as the one Josh and his friend Firecracker play, despite their parents' disapproval. A rising star online, Josh is thrilled when Charlie, another skilled player, invites him to join an underground group of live-action zombie-killer role-players. Even as Josh bonds with Charlie and her team, he begins to suspect something's not right with Clatter, the enigmatic brains behind the operation. Worse still, the game itself is proving more dangerous than he expected, leading to a desperate struggle for survival when things inevitably turn sour. Ford (Suicide Notes) artfully constructs a credible concept against the backdrop of a darkly atmospheric post-post-apocalyptic world. Several secondary characters remain underdeveloped, and readers might wish that the ending unfolded more gradually, but the partnering of virtual gaming with the brutality of "real" zombie warfare achieves an effect that is equal parts chilling and fun. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2010 November
Gr 7 Up--It is the year 2032 and Josh and his buddy Firecracker spend every spare minute playing their favorite computer video game fighting zombies. Josh's parents disapprove of the game; his aunt had been one of the unfortunates in the last generation who caught a terrible virus that actually turned people into real zombies. That tragedy seems a distant reality to Josh and his friend, and when one of the cyber-game players contacts him to see if he wants to play a reality-based version, he jumps at the chance. Charlie turns out to be an avant-garde girl who introduces him to the zombie game that at first seems something akin to today's paintball wars. However, the "kills" seem very real. Josh is a good player, and when Charlie introduces him to the drug "Z" that makes it all so much cooler, Josh starts ditching his friend and his responsibilities to play the game with Charlie and the other worrisome players like Scrawl and Clatter. As the games progress in various parts of the underbelly of the town and Josh takes more and more of the drug, things start ebooking out of control and the game gets more dangerous and a little too real. This book is a thriller, and the clever plot and characters will have readers hoping for more.--Jake Pettit, Thompson Valley High School, Loveland, CO [Page 114]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
VOYA Reviews 2010 December
It is the year 2032, and it has been fifteen years since a documented case of zombie flu has occurred. The zombie virus had turned many normal people into zombies and forced those not infected to battle the zombies in a war. The zombies were defeated by being burned to death. Josh, a hardcore gamer, knows his zombie history but is more interested in a video game where he torches zombies. When Josh is contacted by Charlie, a fellow gamer, he is invited to play the game in IRL--In Real Life. Josh knows it is rumored that there are still a few living zombies and that some top gamers get together to kill these zombies. Josh discovers that the IRL games are not just an urban legend but are reality and soon finds himself secretly battling real zombies, watching real people get hurt, and taking a mystery drug called Z. Ultimately, Josh and his friends try to take down Clatter, the organizer of these IRL games and the creator of Z Z is a rollicking ride that many middle school students are likely to enjoy. The opening chapter, a history lesson at school about the zombie flu, and Josh's journey from video-game zombie-killer to real-life zombie Torcher will prompt most readers to continue reading. A touch of romance between Josh and Charlie also adds to the plot. Ultimately, the last portion of the book is not quite as engaging as the first two thirds, but those who followed Josh's journey will not be disappointed. The lack of a clear resolution and a few unanswered questions will leave some readers a touch disappointed; however, Ford clearly has more zombie-hunting action planned for future volumes.--Jeff Mann 3Q 4P J S Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.