4 out of 4 stars
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Sharon Backovic, a girl with red hair, shambles out of her coffin as a zombie, after she dies tragically at her best friend’s wedding photo-shoot. She is still wearing the horrible pink bridesmaid’s dress. V. X. Morgoni, a reporter, investigates paranormal occurrences and is hot on the trail of a red-haired zombie wearing a fuchsia pink dress who accosted her on a bus stop. A minor-league actress impersonates the zombie Sharon to get her fifteen minutes of fame. How will these three stories collide?
Undead Redhead by Jen Frankel is a fantasy horror novel that combines mystery and satire to deliver a stunning work of fiction. It is far from the cliched novels that one would expect in the zombie genre since our protagonist is a vegan. Go figure!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book since it is a unique take on the zombie genre without deriving from its cheap thrills. Rather, it cashes in on the creepiness of the zombie lore. I felt disgusted after reading the stomach-churning portrayal of Sharon’s diet, but it steadily grows on you. The absence of her family and friends at her own funeral constitutes the only macabre thing in this book. Frankel accurately describes zombie behavior and brings out the confusion, anger, and anguish of Sharon post her transformation perfectly. Her method of creation, which was entertaining to know about, also sets her apart from any other zombie – she does not lose her memories or personality.
Although there is no clear demarcation, the book has two halves – in the first, Sharon is still coming to terms with her death, and retains her meekness from her “life”. As a result, she tries to meet with her so-called friends who all act like contemptibly foolish and arrogant people and expect her to behave like a doormat like she always had. Sharon still wants to do anything to salvage her relationship with her obnoxious friend Dorri who hardly cares for her. It tugs at your heartstrings. In the second half, Sharon finally realizes her worth and understands that having just one or two persons as friends who care for her is liberating.
Some parts of the story deal with reportage on social media. The lexicon used here is realistic, but I found these parts frustrating to read since they lacked the author’s magnificent vocabulary. The author takes a dig at the present day’s click-happy and social media obsessed generation. The propensity to gulp down misinformation and its ramifications have been realistically (and hilariously) portrayed here. There is a savage satisfaction one gets upon reading the explosive climax that ties together all the loose ends by literally bringing together all the characters.
The only complaint I found with this book was the lack of attention to detail. For instance, two days post her zombification, when her memories are still hazy, and Sharon is unable to remember much about her life, she easily remembers her email password. Further, another two days later, all her memories come back with a startling speed. However, they don’t diminish the quality of this story at all.
In the light of the above points stated, I will gladly rate this fast-paced, uplifting, entertaining, and professionally edited zombie tale 4 out of 4 stars. Lack of gut-spilling atrocity makes it suitable for a young audience.
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