by Jeff Hart
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
A laugh-out-loud funny, surprisingly romantic, zombie road trip novel filled with heart—and brains. Eat, Brains, Love is perfect for fans of Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies.
The good news: Jake's dream girl, Amanda Blake, finally knows his name.
The bad news: it's because they both contracted a mysterious zombie virus and devoured the brains of half their senior class. Now Jake and Amanda are on the run from Cass, a teen psychic sent by the government's top-secret Necrotic Control Division to track them down. As Jake and Amanda deal with the existential guilt of eating their best friends and set off in search of a cure for the zombie virus, Cass struggles with a growing psychic dilemma of her own—one that will lead all three of them on an epic journey across the country and make them question what it means to truly be alive. Or undead.
(synopsis from Goodreads)
I don't know what I was expecting from this one. No, actually, I do know what I was expecting from this one. I was promised a funny, romantic story reminiscent of Warm Bodies. That was not what I read.
Instead, this book is a half-baked teenage "romance", complete with
Unfortunately, the weak characterization in this novel prevented it from being anything more than a gratuitously gory story. Aside from a couple of mentions of hair colour, we don't even know what many of the characters look like. Imagine my surprise when, at nearly the end of the book, one character that I'd been imagining as white turned out to be black! (If it's not important, don't mention it. At least, don't mention it near the end of the story when readers have already created their own mental pictures of the characters.) The story was told in alternating first-person points of view, switching between Jake (the zombie) and Cass (the psychic). Both were so badly developed as characters that they might as well have been created ten minutes before the start of the book's events and just dumped there. We never got to know who these people were before they were enemies, so it was difficult to care about either of them. There were a few references to family and friends and a few things that happened before Jake went all zombie and Cass had to stop him... but they seemed like afterthoughts. We didn't even really know what kind of people they were. Both were kind of blank, as far as personality went. Jake comes across as a mindless teenage boy; he's not even horny enough to be interesting. Cass is even worse; she's in over her head and she wants to go home... but home to what? This is a girl who apparently had no friends and no life to go back to. I'm having trouble even coming up with ways to describe what I didn't like about these characters. There just isn't enough there to even criticize!
The plot, at its most basic level, was okay, but kind of cheesy. It reads a bit like a zombie/X-men mash-up. On the one side, you've got Jake and Amanda, who are trying to get to Iowa and a rumoured cure for their zombiism. On the other, you've got psychic Cass and her evil overlord boss, Alastaire, who are trying to stop them. Okay... but I might have liked the plot better than I did if it had been resolved! It was not, and as there is no hint of a sequel*, I feel really cheated. What's changed since the beginning of the book? Not much, other than the fact that a few more redshirts are dead and we've now got a love triangle. The main conflict isn't resolved and the villain just disappeared. That is not how you end a stand-alone novel.
Another thing that may be an issue for many readers is the amount of gore. Warm Bodies had gore, to be sure, but it wasn't gratuitous like it was here. I don't know if the author was trying to be funny by being so overly descriptive, but the disgusting descriptions of blood and guts came across as almost gleeful, which I found off-putting. If descriptions of people's heads being turned into pink mist by a gun blast or zombies eating intestines à la Lady and the Tramp sound like they might be too much for you, you might want to give this one a pass. Or, you know, give it a pass because it's not a complete story in its own right and shouldn't have been published as a stand-alone novel in the first place.
*Note: Since I first published this review, a sequel has been released.
Overall: 2.57 out of 5