May 18, 2009

'Generation Dead' - Daniel Waters

Normally I don't comment on books until I'm done with them, but I'm bored and don't feel like writing 'fiction', so here goes. Furthermore, I'm only a measly seventy pages from finishing the book, so I feel justified in talking about [some of] it.

Generation Dead has a charming readability to it that I'll credit to Daniel Waters's prose style, which is fluid and somewhat witty, and it does tackle its main theme - social acceptance - quite deftly, so for that it gets a round of applause from me.

I cannot fault the preachiness it exudes, either, because it is YA fiction, and the entire medium has had a history of making everything so bloody melodramatic. I feel British today. The entire novel revolves around how silly people can be in not accepting others as 'human', even if those people are dead and not necessarily 'human'. Okay, let me clarify that thought. The entire conceit of the book seems, to me, to be that, if it seems sort of silly to discredit the undead solely based on whether they breathe or not, then isn't it silly to discredit others for other lifestyles? I can already hear how it would be taught in eighth grade classrooms everywhere.

If you took the words for undead - zombie, differently biotic, etc. - and changed the people from zombies to, let's say, gays, blacks, or middle easterners, then the message remains the same. Which, I guess, doesn't speak well of how the book is constructed. I can say, however, that there are some good zombie-ish moments in there, even if the book isn't drenched in gore and Romero mythology. Overall, it does present some very good points about humanity as a whole and what things actually divide us into our little cabals.

The problem is that it gets too muddled in what I'll call its 'Twilightishness'. SPOILER ALERT: [One of] The main characters falls halfway in love with a zombie, but their love/like situation isn't as transformational or transcendent as it is in Stephanie Meyer's books. It is marred by a type of discouraging real-ness not often found in these kinds of novels, and the main character, Phoebe, rides the fence through the latter third of the book, at a point when she should have either been totally in love or her passive prejudice should have shone through a little more clearly. Instead, we get a half-and-half working of Phoebe and Tommy Williams' relationship...and that's about as far as I've gotten.

Now, Generation Dead is more brain than brawn/lust, so approach with caution. There are a few "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" moments in there, so be prepared to see the soapbox come out and be prominent onstage. Other than that, it's a fairly quick, engaging read. And it has zomb, er, differently biotic people.


  1. There's another bit of zombie YA (chick lit?) out there called You Are So Undead to Me. I don't know much about it yet, but I downloaded the free sample to my Kindle.

  2. Let me know how it goes. There's also a sequel to 'Generation Dead' coming out soon.