Generation Dead – Daniel Waters
Goth teen Phoebe has exactly one reliable friend, another goth girl, Margi. One of her other best friends, Adam, is a popular football player who doesn’t acknowledge her at school, and one of them is dead. And Colette isn’t one of those high functioning zombies who moves well or pretends to eat lunch in the cafeteria. She barely registers Phoebe’s hellos. On the other hand you have a living-challenged kid like Tommy, good enough to make the football team. But dead enough to cause protests. Dead enough for death threats.
Most of the living are uncomfortable with the teenagers who come back from the dead. And it’s only American teens who do. There are no laws to protect or govern them, and most families abandon them. Posses roam the country executing all the undead they can find and there are rumors that they’re government sponsored.
Now Phoebe and Tommy are leading a small, mixed group of teens who want to increase zombie acceptance. They’ve got the backing of a creepy and wealthy foundation, but there a few jocks who would do anything to stop them. Especially once Phoebe and Tommy seem to be more than friends.
Obviously an allegory for race, I was hoping this book would dig deeper than the obvious to deal with the exceptional members of persecuted minorities who have always been able to rise above their circumstances. But most of the book was concerned with telling a “isn’t it awful” story about what it might be like to be treated as less than human. It’s more of a history lesson than consideration of current race relations in America.
There is a lot of plot left unresolved, like what exactly is the deal with the rich, creepy foundation and other more spoilerific concerns. A sequel seems in order and hopefully it will dig a bit deeper. Desegregation is fertile ground and maybe a bit beyond the usual xenophobia explored by the zombie genre, I wish this book had some bigger ideas.