Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Being undead isn’t always a bad thing - Dead Jed 2: Dawn of the Jed (Dead Jed Series #2) by Scott Craven

Published: December 2nd, 2014


After a tumultuous first semester in seventh grade, Jed Rivers returns triumphant or so he thinks. After embracing his undeadness to put his archenemy Robbie in his place, the thirteen-year-old zombie thought he’d have a much easier time surviving the second semester relatively intact. That was before he came across the antizombie propaganda published by the mysterious NZN Network, a group trying to push Hollywood stereotypes as the truth. Through fear-mongering and outright lies, the NZN Network will stop at nothing to get Jed expelled.

Jed s attempts to blend in get even more difficult when news spreads that he’s created a zombie dog. And it’s no rumor. Jed shocks even himself when, after seeing a dog get hit by a car, he brings the dog back to life or at least to undeadness when some of his ooze slips into the dog s wounds. The good news is that Jed always wanted a faithful canine companion. The bad news is that the creation of Tread (so called for the mark on his ribcage) unnerves Jed s best friend Luke. Luke abandons Jed, who then learns Luke has been feeding the NZN Network inside information.

Determined to unmask those behind NZN, Jed gets his opportunity at the end of the school year during Pine Hollow s annual Science Fair. When the NZN s experiment goes horribly awry, Jed has a chance to show people that being undead isn’t always a bad thing.

Zombies - Not just horror stories

George Romero may have cared little for the symbolism of zombies when he filmed “Night of the Living Dead” on a budget of what appeared to be $3.59 or so. But by “Day of the Dead,” as zombies infiltrated a mall and took a huge undead shot at consumerism, the zombie as metaphor was firmly established.

When I began to toss around the idea of an intelligent “normal” zombie, it was to put a twist on an overly familiar genre. Jed’s tale was not the first to treat the undead with humor, but it was rather novel (back in 2008, anyway) to give a zombie intelligence and unhindered locomotion.

I knew from the start Jed would mirror my own experiences in middle school, a time of fear and foreboding for an undersized 12-year-old who hoped to soar into obscurity, because stealth equaled health. It was a futile attempt as my size and awkwardness captured the attention of various bullies who lived to cause misery, likely because their own lives were pathetic (the latter understanding came only with hindsight).

After the first few chapters, as I endowed Jed with unique abilities that forced him into an unwelcome spotlight, I embraced Jed as metaphor, yet was determined to keep it subtle so as not to shoot the reader in the head with important life lessons.

I hope young readers laugh, cry and even get a little ticked off as they follow Jed’s undead life through seventh grade. But if they feel good about the way Jed triumphed only when he finally embraced who he was, then so much the better. 

About the author:
Proud graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, have one son who will turn 18 in March 2013, now a features writer for The Arizona Republic.

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