Friday, April 9, 2010

Review: Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Generation Dead (Book 1 in the Generation Dead Series)
by Daniel Waters
2008 Hyperion Books
Softcover Edition; 409 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

5 / 5 Stars

Summary (Press Release)
Phoebe Kendall is just your typical Goth girl with a crush.  He's strong and silent...and dead.

All over the country, a strange phenomenom is occurring.  Some teenagers who die aren't staying dead. But when they come back to life, they are no longer the same.  Feared and misunderstood, they are doing their best to blend into a society that no longer wants them.

The administration at Oakvale High attempts to be more welcoming of the "differently biotic".  But the students don't want to take classes or eat in the cafeteria next to someone who isn't breathing. And there are no laws that exist to protect the "living impaired" from the people who want them to disappear - for good.

When Phoebe falls for Tommy Williams, the leader of the dead kids, no one can believe it; not her best friend, Margi, and especially not her neighbour, Adam, the star of the football team.  Adam has feelings for Phoebe that run much deeper than just friendship; he would do anything for her.  But what if protecting Tommy is the one thing that would make her happy?

My Thoughts
I absolutely loved this book.  I picked it up the other day, despite the other reading I had to do, and could not put it down.  I found the story engaging, suspenseful, thought-provoking, and an earnest portrayal of some of the issues that face adolescents in today's world.

As always in a novel, if I don't connect with the characters, no matter how great the plot, I don't find the book that interesting.  It's always been the character development and the interactions between the characters that have always interested me.  And there is that in abundance in this novel.  I really enjoyed the interaction between Phoebe and Adam, and watching their deep and abiding friendship develop into mutual respect and understanding.  The scene where Adam openly accepts Phoebe, and her Goth ways, in front of everyone, is very touching.  I realize that if he were a true friend, he should have been openly accepting all of the time, but as a teacher, I watch students struggle with the everyday pressures of popularity and peer pressure and it is very difficult to overcome some things.  It often comes down to maturity as well, and Adam was showing a new level of maturity in his behaviour at school, which surprised a lot of people around him.  It also made him some very dangerous enemies, and there were some scenes where he has to confront those around him and defend himself and his beliefs. 

I was also very interested in the behaviour of those people in this novel towards the "undead", and reflected about my own school and how students would behave if a situation like that occurred.  In Generation Dead, the students split into groups who either supported the zombies, wanted to see them dead, or simply didn't care or were too afraid to show how they really felt.   Do I think that regular teenagers would behave exactly as in the book?  My answer would be more than likely.  Tolerance is always an issue and we world hard to strive for tolerance in each of our schools, something that is not always easily done.  What I can see happening are big parent meetings discussing whether the "undead" should be allowed to return to school and be educated with the "living".  In some ways, I think teenagers are more accepting and with all of the changes that are happening in the world around them, tend to be more flexible.

Some of the global issues, the "undead" being killed, having difficulty finding jobs, getting driver's licenses, and so on, was very lightly touched upon, but I found it very interesting, and I did reflect quite a bit upon it.  I think something like this happening would turn our society on its collective ear, so to speak, and it would raise quite a social issue.  These were some of the dark moments of this novel and raised a lot of important questions about those who are 'different' in our society, even today.  This book definitely touches upon prejudice in such an inventive and creative way.   

This is a great satire on our culture and the teen world, and I enjoyed it tremendously.  Daniel Waters does a fantastic job of making you look at the world around you and really seeing it for what it is, all with a sense of humour.  While there are some very serious elements in this novel, there are some whimsical elements as well, and it reminded me a lot of my own high school days and I couldn't help but take some trips down memory lane.  His writing style is lyrical and flowing, and the plot is very interesting.  I am looking forward to reading books 2, Kiss of Life, and 3, Passing Strange. 


  1. Stopping by from The Saturday Network to say hi!

  2. This looks interesting - using the metaphor of "undead" for teenage angst ... something a parent should understand, or at least try to.

  3. I've been curious about this book. Excellent review. I will have to add it to my TBR list.

  4. Added to my list!

    I had never heard of this book :)

  5. Great review! I actually had mixed feelings about this one. Although I really liked the way Daniel Waters dealt with the predjudice issues I struggled to relate to Phoebe & I found the idea of a relationship between her & Tommy a bit icky LOL. I've added a link to your post on my review so people can see another view on the book :o)

  6. It's interesting because I also felt that way about the relationship between Tommy and Phoebe, but I think sometimes, as a teacher, you spend so much time trying to keep an open mind about some of the things that happen around you, that you tend to ignore those little moments of 'ick'. I kept hoping that some of the 'undead' would become less 'undead' as the book progressed.