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Review: Z by Michael Thomas Ford

Z by Michael Thomas Ford
Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Zombies
Hardcover (HARPERTEEN, 288 pages, $16.99)
ISBN# 0060737581
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.

Author Site: janebitesback.com

Z is for Zombie, W is for Weaknesses (3 stars)

More than a decade and a half ago the newest strain of the flu mutated those infected into primal creatures. The primitive, instinctual center of their brains taking over and demanding the most basic human need—to feed. The only way to successfully destroy the virus and prevent transmission was to cleanse by fire. Torchers set fire to the zombies created by the flu until a vaccine could be found. Now zombies are little more than a cautionary tale.

For Josh, torching zombies is just a way to seek video game glory. He's one of the top players in the virtual world but that's just it... the only zombies he can torch are other players. Until he meets Charlie, another top player who invites him to join a group of players who take the game into a real setting. The zombies they torch are just cybernetic ones but they're sure realistic. Then there's the mysterious guy who runs the group and the drug the players are hooked on called Z. Josh knows something is off about his new friends and when they start to disappear it's only a matter of time before the virtual world and reality must collide.

Conceptually I was super stoked about Z. As an online gamer and zombie fan the story had a great set up to entertain me. Ford's writing is great too. A little repetitive at times but this is young adult fiction so I found that forgivable. Josh is a boy I think most early teen boys could relate to, though a bit younger than Josh I could easily see my own son in this character. He's not a bad kid, but he's drawn into a bad situation by his interests. Sounds like your typical boy eh?

What ultimately made me find the book as only okay was how much of a build up there is in the plot before a really weak ending. If you don't like a story to end with a massive amount of unexplained happenings this book will frustrate you immensely. In addition to the ending coming very abruptly I also found a major hole in the plot that I feel any editor worth their salt would have called into question and that unfortunately would have negated most of what the story stood on. While the targeted age group might not catch it, an older teen or adult reader most likely will.

On the whole the tale is timely, entertaining and likely to appeal more to boys from age 10 to 15. I do not think anyone outside of that age range would really love it unless they are a die-hard zombie fan looking for something really light and outside the more morality-tale type books.

Other Reviews:

Books Are Life
Read All Over Reviews

Notes: I received an unsolicited ARC from the publisher.

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