Friday, January 7, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Published: September 7, 2010 by HarperTeen
Format: Hardcover, 288 pgs.
The First Rule of Torching: Cleanse with fire.
Josh is by far the best zombie Torcher around—at least, he is in his virtual-reality zombie-hunting game. Josh has quickly risen through the player ranks, relying on the skill, cunning, and agility of a real Torcher.
The Second Rule of Torching: Save all humans.
But luckily for Josh, zombies exist only in the virtual world. The real zombie war is now more than fifteen years in the past, and the battle to defeat the deadly epidemic that devastated his family—and millions of others—is the stuff of history lessons.
The Third Rule of Torching: You can't bring them back.
Charlie is the top-ranked player in the game. Since all the players are shrouded in anonymity, Josh never expects Charlie to be a girl—and he never expects the offer she makes him: to join the underground gaming league that takes the virtual-reality game off the screen and into the streets. Josh is thrilled. But the more involved he gets, the more he realizes that not everything is what it seems. Real blood is spilling, members of the team are disappearing, and the zombies in the game are acting strange. And then there's the matter of a mysterious drug called Z. . . .
There are boy books, and then there is Z. If you have a guy in your family who's all about zombies and first person shooter games (it's okay if you don't know what that means) and action movies, this is the book for them.
Josh's world is one where the zombie apocalypse has already happened and been suppressed. The zombie war is a thing of the past for the kids playing the holographic game based on the horrific outbreak years earlier; but when Josh gets sucked in to the In Real Life version of the game, he begins to understand why his mother disapproves: Zombies are people, too. Or at least they were.
The zombie flu turned people into mindless animals that attacked their loved ones until they were annihilated, meaning they aren't the undead afterall. Josh learns about the real life Torchers in school, but nothing is cooler than dusting meatbags, regardless of what his mother says about poor Aunt Lucy. Michael Thomas Ford's Z gives life to zombies in a new and interesting way that's fun and painful at the same time. From the game to the IRL missions and taking the drug Z for the first time to learning the ugly truth, Ford has delivered an action-packed thrill ride for boys (and zombie-loving gamer girls) everywhere. I devoured this book--pun intended.
This is one of those books I actually wanted more of when it was over. I wanted a sequel right then and there, unlike those books where you NEED the sequel to finish the story. (So Michael Thomas Ford, if you're reading this, PLEASE WRITE MORE.) It's also a very visual book, which makes it seem all the more real and so incredibly cool. I could see it all playing out in my mind as if it were already a movie on the big screen (and boy, do I hope it gets a film adaptation). This isn't one of those boy books that's got romance to counter the "boy stuff;" it's the real thing all the way around, and it's awesome. The characters, the world building, the escalating tension on every single page all came together to make Z one of my new favorite books.
Girls, if you like action or zombies or video games . . . or all of the above, then this book is for you, too. If you don't like any of those things, Z may not be your book, but I'm still going to recommend you try reading. Boys, just go get it.
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