Tuesday 15 December 2009

Review - Generation Dead / Daniel Waters

Summary - All over the country, a strange phenomenon is occurring. Some teenagers who die aren't staying dead. Termed "living impaired" or "differently biotic," they are doing their best to fit into a society that doesn't want them.

Fitting in is hard enough when you don't have the look or attitude, but when almost everyone else is alive and you're not, it's close to impossible. The kids at Oakdale High don't want to take classes or eat in the cafeteria next to someone who isn't breathing. And there are no laws to protect the differently biotic from the people who want them to disappear - for good.

With her pale skin and goth wardrobe, Phoebe has never run with the popular crowd. But on one can believe it when she falls for Tommy Williams, the leader of the dead kids. Not her best friend, Margi, whose fear of the differently biotic is deeply rooted in guilt over the past. And especially not her neighbor, Adam, the star of the football team. Recently, Adam has realized that his feelings for Phoebe 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?

Review - To be clear, I didn't loathe this book but I did have a huge amount of issues that I won't proceed to list off. It's an interesting premise, the idea that some teen deaths are revived in such a way as to come back to "life". The pool of those that are integrated back into life is so small that it needed to be addressed more than a vague concept of it being of great interest to the public. It was just a little too convenient in it's vagaries to sit well.

The use of zombified (my bad, living impaired) teens is ridiculously mined for it's parallels to other minorities. Their poor status in society and the bigotry placed upon them should elicit my sympathy but instead it angered me that the author felt that zombies should be placed in the same league as hate crimes against teens of different races, religions or sexual preferences. It's so overt and so slavishly heaped upon the reader as to remove the need for thought. I don't approve of the hate crimes seen in this novel but I refuse to emotionally connect with the concept as portrayed here.

While the story was interesting in that a girl who had proclivities for goth-wear (why wasn't this element given more than a brush over?), befriends those that are actually dead, the story didn't really capture my enthusiasm. Instead, Waters changed perspective numerous times. This should have added some pace to the plot but weirdly didn't. I found myself longing for the sections that were told from Adam's point of view as he is the most relatable character in this tale. Phoebe for all her black wearing, free thinking ideologies is a badly constructed character. On a shallow level she is an interesting character but swiftly it becomes apparent that the author had no concept of a female's perspective. A female teen doesn't NOT know her feelings towards a guy that intrigues her or the guy that has been her best friend forever. The permanent fog that clouds Phoebe's feelings for Tommy and Adam for the entire book made no sense for me. She wouldn't be without identified feelings, she'd have inklings for either fellow but if she were vague in real life it would be because she wasn't sure of the strength of her feelings for both. Phoebe would know her feeling (of whatever strength) so the whole concept that she spends the entire book not knowing if she's interesting in Tommy infuriated me. Teen girls over think EVERYTHING and the lack of introspection into her feelings, and their feelings for her, was a major character oversight.

Generation Dead is a novel that many bloggers reviewed positively and I am still not entirely sure why. Sure the book is well written but the pacing, the core concept and the crafting of the protagonist need considerable development. The well timed zombie concept of this book works on a surface level if you have no problem wading through didactic prose and leaden metaphors but it's not to my liking.

Published: 2008
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Source of Review Copy: purchased
Origin: USA


Carla said...

Yeah, I really didnt like this book. Pheobe drove me insane and she was like a half-formed character, never really taking centre stage as she should have done as the protagonist. I picked up ther sequel none the less and read about 20 pages and give up, zomibe novels are not my thing.

ReaderGirl said...

Hmmm, very interesting review. I actually did like it a lot, but I definitely know what you mean about the pacing... sometimes the chapters from Pete's perspective when slower then others I'd liked reading more.

Anyways, sorry it wasn't a good one for you. =/

Unknown said...

I haven't read this but every time I've looked at this in a book shop I've got the feeling that it wasn't for me. Weird. Love the review.

Lenore Appelhans said...

This wasn't one of my favorites either.