Monday, February 1, 2010

Review: Never Slow Dance With a Zombie by E. Van Lowe

by E. Van Lowe
2009 Tom Doherty Associates Book (Tor Teen)
Genre: Young Adult
253 pages

4/5 Stars

Summary (Publisher Comments)
On the night of her middle school graduation, Margot Jean Johnson wrote a high school manifesto detailing her goals for what she was sure would be a most excellent high school career. She and her best friend, Sybil, would be popular and, most important, have boyfriends. Three years later, they still haven't accomplished a thing! Then Margot and Sybil arrive at school one day to find that most of the student body has been turned into flesh-eating zombies. When kooky Principal Taft asks the girls to coexist with the zombies until the end of the semester, they realize that this is the perfect opportunity to live out their high school dreams. All they have to do is stay alive...

My Thoughts
When I first started reading this book, I was somewhat disappointed. I thought it was going to be another teen angst book about two girls who were disappointed because they hadn't fulfilled their high school dreams and become popular the way they had hoped. There was the usual stereotypical cheerleader Amanda Culpepper, who was everything Margot wanted to be: beautiful, popular, head of every 'it' committee, and dating the one boy Margot has set her sights on. To top it off, Amanda is the girl who was best friends with Margot in middle school until something happened at summer camp one year that changed everything, and Amanda and her friends returned from camp giving Margot the cold shoulder, effectively shutting her out of the 'it' crowd. Margot has never forgiven her for what had happened, and she is still asking her the all-important question, why?

The day after the school carnival, everything changes. When Margot and Sybil arrive at school that morning, they are chased into the bathroom by a group of zombies, led by the queen herself, Amanda Culpepper. It seemed as if the entire school body had been changed overnight into zombies. And that's where the book suddenly changed into something interesting, hilarious, and very different. When Margot and Sybil run into the office for safety, they found Principal Taft unchanged and standing on his desk. After performing a test on them to ensure they weren't zombies, he asked them to continue the semester the way everything was and to coexist with the zombies. The girls saw it as the perfect opportunity to be in charge of committees they would never have been able to do. Suddenly, they would be the most popular girls in school.

Margot dove into her new role as head girl with enthusiasm. For the first time in her life, she was in charge of everything, and saw herself as the new 'it' girl. Unfortunately, this changed her and she does some things she was not proud of. I have to admit that there were times that I didn't like her character very much during this time as I found her extremely selfish, rude, and bossy. She was especially mean and spiteful to Sybil, who stuck by Margot through everything. Where Sybil seemed to develop in character and grew in sensitivity and maturity, Margot seemed to develop a callousness to her that was not very likeable. It led Margot and Sybil down some difficult paths and to face some truths that were not easy to face.

E. Van Lowe demonstrates a connection between the zombies and teenage angst in this very interesting novel. In order to survive the zombie world, you need to travel in packs of zombies as being an individual could either get you killed or turn you into one of them. What kind of zombie do you prefer to be? An emo-zombie or a goth-zombie or an it-girl-zombie? I had to laugh when Amanda first turned her nose up at Margot and Sybil and refused to turn them into zombies as it would mean they would now be part of Amanda's pack and they weren't cool enough. It definitely reflects high school life where being an individual makes you stand out. Everyone wants to be popular and have a pack of adoring hordes behind you. For Margot and Sybil, moving in a pack was paramount to safety in the zombie world, but even the zombie world had its hierarchy. There was even some fun poked at parents as the following question came up, why are the parents not reacting to their children becoming zombies? Simply enough, it was another teenage stage their children were going through and they will grow out of it. Hilarious!!
When Margot's boyfriend and parents sat staring at the television screen for hours at a time, she thought he had turned them into zombies too. But they were just watching tv so intently, they were behaving like zombies. Another reflection by the author on our zombie-like behaviour in our everyday world. It's pretty scary when you see it right in front of you like that, and Margot certainly began looking at her world in a very different light.

I really enjoyed this novel and if your are patient, it will pay off. There were many interesting scenes, with plot twists that took me by surprise. While I had many questions while reading the novel, I found that most of them were answered by the end. I found the characters to be quirky and down-to-earth. I especially liked Margot's descriptions of her gym teacher and her experiences in gym class; they were hilarious and the extremes to which she would try to get out of exercising were pretty creative. As a physical education teacher, I can really appreciate the creativity as I have been there with my own students. Overall, I was very satisfied with Never Slow Dance with a Zombie and I look forward to reading more of E. Van Lowe's work.

E. Van Lowe wrote for many award-winning TV shows such as "The Cosby Show" and "Even Stevens". He also cowrote the Academy-Award nominated short film Cadillac Dreams. Never Slow Dance With A Zombie is his first teen novel.


  1. I will have to check it out!

    I am following you from FF, I know it is almost a week late, but better late than never right? I hope you will come back and follow as well. Have a good rest of your week. Juliana from A Blonde Walks Into A Blog!

  2. I've hesitated on this one but you wrote a great review. I'll have to pick it up!