It is about Phoebe and her friends who are trying to make sense of a new sensation in the world – dead teenagers who will not stay dead. These teenage zombies do not need the usual things humans need to sustain life i.e. air, food, and sleep. But they can move and they communicate by a type of slurred speech. Some of these teenage zombies are more able than others, like Tommy Williams, and they all are somehow trying to be integrated back into the school system by the authorities. For more similar books, check out our selection of the best teen zombie books.
They say “Don’t judge a book by its cover” and in the case of this book, they are wise words that should be heeded. Reviews of Generation Dead book series were mixed and in this case, I think that the negative remarks are fair. The naïve art on the cover of Generation Dead would lead you to believe that this is a light-hearted book.
However, it deals with some of the most hard-hitting issues found in this genre. These horrors include the deaths of teenagers who then turn into flesh-eating zombies. Surely, the cover could have reflected that awfulness more imaginatively?
If you were expecting quirky and funny, then you are going to be disappointed in Generation Dead. In addition to the aforementioned horror, it also deals with thought-provoking issues like intolerance, segregation, and hatred.
Generation Dead is set in a high school where they are trying to deal with the strange phenomenon of teenagers who die but are not staying dead. They are, to the disgust and alarm of the other kids, trying to carry on life as if they are still the same people – only no longer alive and the other students are not keen to interact with them.
The main character, Phoebe, falls in love with one of the “living impaired” boys and this has extreme consequences for her and her friends. Tommy bucks the system and manages to get himself on to the school football team. He attracts the attention of Phoebe by being athletic, articulate and not bad on the eyes either. It is clear to Phoebe that he has an inner-strength despite being a zombie.
Tommy is going to need that resolute spirit when the hatred of the other students for the zombie’s bubbles over into pure hatred. Everyone involved is forced to make choices and making the wrong choice could lead to death. Friendships are tested but there is also evidence of some crumbs of human kindness and understanding in the end.
It is easy to relate to the characters in Generation Dead because they are so well-drawn and realistic. The heroine, Phoebe, is smart and brave and she can see the flaws in her relationship with Tommy, which shows a maturity that is not often evident in teen relationships.
Using a very clever writing technique, Daniel Waters can do what other authors of this genre have not been able to achieve – he has even succeeded in making the zombies interesting characters with much more going on in their minds than finding the next meal of brains. Then, with the addition of human villains, Waters keeps the reader enthralled and engaged to the end.
The ending of the Generation Dead book seems to be less of a cliff-hanger and more of an abrupt halt, which was a missed opportunity for the author to give his readers closure from all the horror. Perhaps Waters was already planning the sequel?