"Brains for lunch again / 'Stop moaning and just eat it.' / Lunch lady humor." Middle schooler Loeb (pun intended) is a Zombie. The "Zs" reluctantly share a school with "Lifers" and a few "Chupos" (Chupacabras). Tensions run so high that few cross the line. Then Lifer girl Siobhan seems to be everywhere. Is she just selling her potions or does she have another motive for consorting with Zs? Loeb decides to prove all Zombies aren't idiots by entering the school poetry contest, to great effect: The Zombie gets the girl. Holt's "zombie novel in haiku" is haiku in shape only; the nature focus and revelatory final line are missing from these triplets. The arc of Loeb's story is often hard to follow due to the constraints of the verse, and his triumph at the poetry slam and getting the girl just aren't believable. Wilson's line drawings are good, gross-out fun, but they can't carry the flimsy plot. An interesting notion squeezed into what feels like a school poetry assignment gone overlong. Final art not seen. (Novel in verse. 9-12)Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Gross-out humor and romantic tension enmesh in this clever novel told in haiku about a zombie (aka Z) named Loeb who falls for a "Lifer," Siobhan. Raising the stakes on the usual social jockeying of middle school, the Zs eat brains for lunch, which makes Lifers not only attractive but appetizing. "Try to play it cool/ She's a Lifer after all/ I could chomp her brain." Holt (Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel) excels at wordplay and a surprisingly sophisticated brand of slapstick ("She makes my face flush/ Or, I'm just putrefying/ Either way, I'm red"). This, mixed with the astutely observed social dynamics (zombies versus humans, with chupacabras thrown in for good measure) and the haiku form, which is an ideal vehicle for the kind of halted observations one expects from the undead, makes this a standout choice for reluctant readers. New Yorker artist Wilson's gruesome pen and ink cartoons of the deformed, bug-eyed students, not all of which were seen by PW, are also an inspired match, highlighting the self-doubt and angst of the preteen years, heartbeat or not. Ages 9-14. (Aug.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-8--Middle school is hard enough for the living, but for Loeb it's especially dreadful. He is a thoughtful zombie whose classmates are fellow zombies, Lifers (regular humans), and blood-sucking creatures known as Chupos. His school is a boiling pot of rivalries and segregations. Things get interesting for Loeb when the librarian (a Lifer) encourages him to read some of his haiku at open-poetry night. Subplots include a Lifer who is romantically interested in Loeb and tensions within the different groups that mount when one being mingles with another. The novel is told through a series of haiku, a form that is comically ideal for zombie dialogue. While the book appears to be an easy read, this poetic form will appeal to skilled readers who are comfortable navigating this narrative technique. The novel jumps right into the story, and readers are required to interpret the characters, setting, and situations quickly; the poetic form does not allow for detailed character and plot development and it is sometimes difficult to discern which character is speaking. Holt employs gross-out humor that will appeal to her audience: the zombies' bodies are constantly falling apart and the novel begins, appropriately, with a haiku about eating brains, "Brains for lunch again/'Stop moaning and just eat it.'/Lunch lady humor." Wilson's pen-and-ink illustrations complement the text and zombies are shown as creatures surrounded by flies, swarming with worms, and constantly struggling to keep their bodies intact. This intriguing book definitely has an audience--one that appreciates, quite literally, tongue-in-cheek humor.--Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI[Page 118]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.