Monday, April 18, 2011

Generation Dead

"All I know is that I want to go to the dance with her, and actually dance. I know this because I know that when I am with her, there are times, even if they are brief, when I no longer feel like a zombie. There are times when, for an instant, I forget that I've died and I no longer breathe and my heart no longer pumps blood throughout my body.
I forget these things when I'm with her. I think that if I could dance with her, just once, I might feel like I was alive again."

Title: Generation Dead

Author: Daniel Waters

ISBN: 978-1-4231-0921-1

Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children

Copyright: 2008

Plot Summary: Generation Dead begins with the premise of American youth who die returning to life to live once more, as the strange generation of dead teens. Generation Dead switches between Phoebe, Adam, and Pete's points of view. Phoebe Kendall is a goth girl who, along with her best friend Margie and her childhood friend Adam, struggles to deal with the sudden inundation of undead teens coming to their town. Not only does she have to come to terms with the death, and reanimation, of her friend Collette, but she also has to deal with her strange feelings regarding the differently biotic boy Tommy. Adam, a great football player, has changed since his summer of karate and attempts to change his previous bullying participation in the Pain Crew. He also tries to control his new feelings for Phoebe and with his family situation. Peter, the antagonist of the series, is the leader of the Pain Crew and has a painful past of his own to deal with. As feelings regarding undead teens rise and murders of the risen-again teens start multiplying, Phoebe, Adam, and Pete have to deal with the situation.

Critical Evaluation: Generation Dead continues the supernatural romance genre that has been made famous by Twilight. However, unlike the romantic Twilight series, Generation Dead's supernatural phenomena is American-wide and known to the general public. Much of the book contains the discussion of these undead teenagers and whether or not they have rights as human beings, or if they lost those rights upon their first death. The uproar about undead teens being a sign of the upcoming apocalypse is a realistic enough reaction and the diversity itself of the reactions will make readers compare discrimination in the real world to the discrimination faced by undead teens. The use of multiple points of view, primarily that of the protagonists Phoebe and Adam and the antagonist Pete, is a rather original technique that is usually not found in young adult literature. Allowing multiple points of views, and with that, sympathy for all the characters, was done well and let readers understand the reasoning behind each character's actions. It also allowed for a more fleshed out story line that could have been limited by narration by a single character or changed through a third person omniscient view.

Reader's Annotation: Phoebe Kendall was a goth girl even before American teens started coming back to life, a change that disturbs the entire American way of life. Soon, her interest in the differently biotic Tommy starts waves that threaten not only her but her friends and her town.

Information About the Author: Generation Dead is Daniel Water's first young adult novel and he has written Kiss of Life and Passing Strange that take place in the same world. Waters lives in Connecticut with his family and is still writing.
Follow Waters by visiting his blog. His lengthy biography states that he is a male novelist in the United States who likes sandwiches.

Genre: Fantasy; Suburban Fiction; Romance; Zombies

Curriculum Ties N/A

Booktalking Ideas:
  • How does Phoebe change throughout the novel? Does her interest in Tommy and his interest in her differ? And how is she different from the stereotypical views of goths?
  • How does including the antagonist's point of view in the novel allow for a more sympathetic character in Pete? Why do you think that Waters did this? Does knowing Pete's back story change your perception of him as a character or are his actions still unforgivable despite seeing his obvious disorientation?
Reading Level: 16+

Challenge Issues:
  • The gruesome descriptions of the differently biotic teens and how they died could be disturbing to some readers. However, it is a part of understanding how the DB teens behave and it is intriguing to see how each copes with their problems. It is quite similar to teens who have been abused and written in a manner which is believable.
Why This Book?: Staff recommendation

Reference Page:
Waters, D. (2008). Generation Dead. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.

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