Title & Author: Diary of a Gay Teenage Zombie, Justin MacCormack
Genre & Publication Date: Paranormal, July 10, 2015
Book Description: “Jay was a perfectly normal teenager. Awkward, antisocial, and homosexual. He had friends, but only a few. His family were troubled, and he wasn’t entirely happy. He was like any other awkward, antisocial, homosexual teenager.
Then he was bitten!
Now, Jay has far more on his mind than he can handle. Not only is he struggling to keep his family apart and deal with his unfulfilled love for the hottest guy in school, but he now has to struggle to keep in check his urge to devour human flesh. Decomposition is bad enough, but he can almost deal with that.
But how can he deal with life when he’s this much of an outsider?”
First Line: If my dad was able to understand me, I’d have a heart attack.
My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.
Looking for an unexpected gem of a book, a fun read with an undead protagonist who is both sympathetic and hilarious? Then this is a must read for you!
The format of the story is a series of dated journal entries. These had a realistic set up–some were long, some short, some with dialogue but not tons because, let’s face it, no one really writes down whole conversations word-for-word into their diaries. This really pulled me into Jay’s, the main character, perspective and had me right alongside him as he grappled with his new predicament.
At first, being a zombie is more of a confusing, surreal state of being, more of an annoyance than a total intrusion into his life, but as things progress, his condition worsens and the tension builds. It kept me turning the pages to find out what was going to happen to this poor kid.
I really liked the way the author wove in the troubles of others in Jay’s life, sometimes in ways that the reader picks up on before the protagonist does, like his dad’s ongoing unemployment, the neighbors’ troubled marriage and the friction between his parents. It’s not some angsty, “One Tree Hill”-esque tale of a teenager fretting about the latest gossip hitting the rumor circuit. This is a real kid dealing with real problems of life…and after life, for extra narrative zing.
Perhaps the most compelling was the parallel drawn between being a zombie and being gay. The isolation Jay felt, the fear of rejection, the way he tried to hide what he was from others, all of these things could fall under either category. Obviously being gay isn’t like being one of the undead, but the parallel really brought home how it can be for those who struggle to be accepted for who they are.
The Magical: The protagonist had a fantastic voice, full of those contradictory traits that make teendom a coming-of-age time in life; empathy and attitude; sarcasm and insecurity; curiosity and boredom. Jay seemed like a genuine person rather than the teenage cliche I so often come across. It was fun getting to know him, but of course, I always enjoy a smart ass.
The Mundane: Watch those copy errors. Grandma’s dog had three different names and there were quite a few spots of missing words and typos. With an interesting story line I overlook such things but most readers don’t and tend to give a lower rating as a result. That would be shame for a good book like this one.
I’d also recommend that the author 86 the essay questions posed after the conclusion of the story. The author illustrated things beautifully and the message in the text was received, so they’re unnecessary. I’m not sure why those were put in but it gives the feeling that the author didn’t trust the reader to get what the book was about. It can come off as condescending. The “thought” questions at the end remind me of odious book reports forced on us in high school. Even when the book was good, those stupid essays just killed the fun of reading it. Ditch the quiz, I beg you.
Summary of Thoughts: A great story and currently only $2.99 on the Kindle! Real life drama mixed with zombie action, what more can you ask of a book? It’s lighthearted, but dark where it should be and portrays teenagers as they are: kids trying to figure who they are without making too much of a mess of it. In some ways they’re just like adults, really. They just haven’t figured out that pretty much everyone is working this “life” thing without a net.
Many thanks to author Justin MacCormack for providing a copy of the book to review!
Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here
To learn more about the author and his other works, check out his website here