Review: Undead

Undead (Undead #1) by Kirsty McKay
Release Date ~ September 1, 2012
The Chicken House ~ Scholastic
ISBN13: 9780545381888
Review copy received from Scholastic Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:

Out of sight, out of their minds: It's a school-trip splatter fest and completely not cool when the other kids in her class go all braindead on new girl Bobby.

The day of the ski trip, when the bus comes to a stop at a roadside restaurant, everyone gets off and heads in for lunch. Everyone, that is, except Bobby, the new girl, who stays behind with rebel-without-a-clue Smitty.

Then hours pass. Snow piles up. Sun goes down. Bobby and Smitty start to flirt. Start to stress. Till finally they see the other kids stumbling back.

But they've changed. And not in a good way. Straight up, they're zombies. So the wheels on the bus better go round and round freakin' fast, because that's the only thing keeping Bobby and Smitty from becoming their classmates' next meal. It's kill or be killed in these hunger games, heads are gonna roll, and homework is most definitely gonna be late.

I'm a sucker for anything zombie - it's an obsession almost to the point that it's shameful. So picture a happy me hugging this book when I found it as a surprise in my mailbox. CUE EXCITEMENT.

And thankfully, Undead did deliver plenty of excitement. And plenty of zombies. Which is all I really need in a zombie book, so keep in mind that if zombies just aren't your thing.

  1. Non-stop action:

    Undead starts with a bang, ends with a bang, and every chapter is guaranteed to include a little emotional angst, some blood, and a scene that will leave your heart pounding. I felt like I was constantly waiting for a monster to jump out at me - which is saying a lot because I don't get that feeling too often while reading books.
  2. Conspiracy theories that will make your head spin:

    Admittedly, zombie stories aren't known for being the most creative - they're usually standard fare. But Undead doesn't launch into theories about why there are zombies right away (something to do with kids running for their lives). But once they do? I appreciated that there were a few surprises. Some things were predictable, but not everything.
  3. Characters who evolve:

    I wasn't too sure what to think of Smitty and Bobby at first. They didn't grab me initially, but they quickly wormed their way into my little heart. Bobby especially took a while to get to know, because she has herself so well-guarded and hidden away. But I was surprised about halfway through the book how much I was rooting for these two to get out of there alive. And? I loved that they could poke fun at each other and their situation. Undead is great partially because of the jokes and how it doesn't take itself too seriously - which is key for a zombie horror book. 
I still felt like I was hoping for more from Undead to really WOW me though. Secondary characters that were more dimensional, a stronger & more unique story behind exactly what's taking place and why... both would have turned this into a book that I loved rather than just one I liked. 

But this is still an excellent pick for fans of zombies like me. 


Review: Venom

Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1) by Fiona Paul
Release Date ~ October 30, 2012
Philomel ~ Penguin
ISBN13: 978039925725
ARC received from Penguin Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancĂ©, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancĂ©, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.

Before getting to my review of the content of this book, I have to clarify that while I think the cover for Venom is pretty it isn't remarkable and didn't make me want to read the book at all - and frankly, I think to a large extent it actually does a disservice to the book itself.

The cover here gives you no idea how fast-paced, mysterious, and dark this story is. It lured me in from the very start and kept me hooked until the end - I honestly couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

  1. Follow the mystery along Venice's twisted underground...:

    I was completely hooked on the plot in Venom; from the very beginning there are missing people, dead bodies turning up... and body parts. Um, yeah. I really don't want to say more because I DON'T WANT TO RUIN A THING FOR YOU, but just believe me when I tell you this is like historical CSI in YA form. I mean, I know that sounds weird but trust me because it's so, so good!
  2. Well, hello, Falco:

    Fiona Paul took me for such a ride when it came to Falco. Everything was so up and down, and emotions were turbulent and I had a hard time figuring out exactly how I felt about him (probably because Cass had the same struggles). But I love that I was kept guessing about his character and he had plenty of surprises up his sleeve. Oh, and there's totally some swoony romance in there that you won't want to miss.
  3. Gorgeous historical setting:

    I love author's that can bring the written world to life and Fiona was brilliant at accomplishing just that. The reader is fully immersed in the Venetian world (both aristocratic class and underground) which is exactly what good historical fiction does for you. Venom is a fantastic example of YA historical fiction, and one I'd recommend even for readers who are more hesitant about trying it out.
The only issue I had with Venom was that there seemed to be too many details included for the first book in a new series; I liked getting all sorts of little hints towards what might be going on, but it felt like too much for one book. And I wasn't much of a fan of the "big reveal" at the end - but I think that's because I like being held in suspense for longer and I'd rather hold out for a really great twist. 

All in all, Venom is one of the books this year that I felt was an excellent start to a fresh series and one that I still have trouble getting out of my head! 

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