Given my affinity for both zombies and young adult fiction, “Zomburbia” by Adam Gallardo seemed like a perfect fit and I just had to work time into my reading schedule for this book. I finally got a chance to read the book with the hopes that it would be an entertaining and exciting novel.
Courtney Hart seemed to be an average teenager. She is unhappy to be trapped in her smallish hometown of Salem, Oregon, and is dealing with some issues since her mother left her father for another man. She has a job at a local burger joint and does well enough in school. She has a couple friends and lives in the middle ground that every high school has for those who are deemed fairly nondescript. She dreams of going to college in New York and is saving money to move there when she graduates. All of this is fairly mundane until you factor the post-apocalyptic and zombie-infested world in which she lives into the equation. That makes things a little more interesting.
When the undead first began to walk the Earth, cities were forced to wall themselves off behind walls to keep the zombies at bay. Things seemed to settle into a new type of normalcy for a while, but all of that is changing now. Courtney has big dreams of going to college in New York and trying to find a solution to the zombie plague but there are a couple problems with that. One is that she does not have the money for that but she can solve that on her own. She has turned to selling a new drug, Vitamin Z, made from zombie brains to fund her future education. The second problem, that New York is currently overrun and closed down, is something she can only change. The fact that the zombies seem to be evolving and becoming more organized if not more intelligent only makes this worse. Of course, Courtney will have to survive high school first and that is not going to be an easy task.
“Zomburbia” has a lot to like. Vitamin Z, and the devastating effects that the drug can have, is an interesting element of the story and I wish it would have been expanded upon more over the course of the story. There are also some very good sequences of zombie mayhem that one would expect to find in a novel in this genre. “Zomburbia” is the first book in a series by Andy Gallardo and there is a lot of world-building in the book that should come to pay off in future volumes. Gallardo has a vision of a deep and layered world that leaves a lot to explore as the series progresses.
It is this world-building that leads to the problems that exist in “Zomburbia.” There were several times during the story in which I felt that the story was not really moving along but rather just lagging while spending too much time on unimportant aspects of the characters. While I expect there to be some teenage drama in a young adult work, there was just a little too much of that for me (although this admittedly may not be the case for a younger reader). I would have liked to see more of a focus on Vitamin Z in the story but that seemed to be wrapped up a little too neatly and simply for my taste and then just left behind to make the climax of the story too anticlimactic. While I enjoyed the book, there was a little too much focus on teen angst and too little focus on the undead and the other unique aspects of the novel. This may be addressed in further books in the series and I am definitely interested in reading more from this world. I expect that this book will appeal more to its target audience than it did to me, but there just was not enough focus on the zombie and horror aspects of the story for my tastes and that kept the book from moving beyond just being a good read to being something more.
I would like to thank Kensington Books and NetGalley for this review copy. “Zomburbia” is available from Kensington Books now.