Bad Hair Day

Bad Hair Day

4.2 4
by Carrie Harris

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Kate Grable is geeked out to shadow the county medical examiner as part of her school's premed program. But after he's arrested for murder, she's left with the bodies. And when Kate's brother, Jonah, stumbles upon a dead gamer girl, Kate realizes that the zombie epidemic she cured last fall was only the beginning of the weirdness taking over her town. Someone&mdash

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Kate Grable is geeked out to shadow the county medical examiner as part of her school's premed program. But after he's arrested for murder, she's left with the bodies. And when Kate's brother, Jonah, stumbles upon a dead gamer girl, Kate realizes that the zombie epidemic she cured last fall was only the beginning of the weirdness taking over her town. Someone—or something—is murdering kids. Something really hairy. And strong. Possibly with claws.

Could it be werewolves, like Jonah and his dorktastic friends think? Kate's supposed to be a butt-kicking, zombie-killing genius . . . but if she can't figure out what's behind the freakish attacks, the victims—or what's left of them—are going to keep piling up.

"Readers will get a kick out of this book that reads like a Wes Craven movie. The plot may be a little far-fetched, but the ride is so much fun it doesn't much matter . . .  what's not to love?"—Kirkus Reviews

"Kate combines the smarts of Veronica Mars with the attitude of Buffy . . .  a fast-paced read."—School Library Journal  

"Entirely enjoyable."—Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Clifford B. Hicks’s immortal Alvin Fernald has a 21st-century analogue in Kate Grable, a “semi-reformed nerd” and medical buff who carries her own scalpels in a pink case. At age 17, she’s already a CNN celebrity, having helped to develop and then cure the so-called “zombie virus” in Harris’s Bad Taste in Boys (2011). With college applications in Kate’s sights, she is participating in a job-shadowing program at the local health department when her mentor, the county medical examiner, is arrested for murder, leaving Kate and a pathology assistant to keep the morgue running. It’s a busy place: mysterious attacks are occurring at a rapid clip, with only clumps of hair as evidence—and lots of it. With a deep background in CSI episodes and a stalwart quarterback for a boyfriend, however, there’s no need to fear—Kate can solve this mystery and get into a good premed program. It’s a lightweight but entirely enjoyable read; if not for the explicit crime scenes and occasional profanity, Kate’s smart-mouthed commentary and gory preoccupations would be right on target for younger readers. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kate Schafer Testerman, KT Literary. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
Kate Grable can't catch a break. You'd think that a girl who'd invented a cure for the zombie virus less than a year ago would have earned the right to relax and enjoy her senior year, but there's no rest for this self-professed "semi-reformed nerd" and celebrity. This campy, often laugh-out-loud-funny follow-up to Bad Taste in Boys (2011) finds Kate once again in the position of having to save her friends, her high school and her town from a big, hairy someone (or something) that is on a kid-killing spree. Sure, it would be nice to enjoy some quiet time with her adorable jock boyfriend, but it's hard to ignore the bodies piling up in the morgue, where Kate is shadowing the town medical examiner as part of the Future Doctors of America program. When Dr. Burr is arrested for the murders and her best friend's boyfriend becomes a target, Kate uses her supersmarts to crack the case. Readers will get a kick out of this book that reads like a Wes Craven movie. The plot may be a little far-fetched, but the ride is so much fun it doesn't much matter. When characters respond to the possibility of a werewolf preying on their town with lines like "You don't understand.…I'm Team Edward!" what's not to love? (Horror humor. 13 & up)
Children's Literature - Sandra Eichelberger
High school senior Kate Grable has just arrived at the morgue to be mentored by the local medical examiner when the police come and arrest her mentor. At the same time mutilated bodies are brought in prompting Kate to wonder if they were murdered by something inhuman? Not again! In this second installment, teen medical geek Kate may be tracking a new threat, different from the zombies she hunted in Harris' Bad Taste in Boys. The book is so outrageous that it is comical. It is high school science geek vs. hairy creatures with claws. Will heroic, brainiac Kate once again solve the mysterious murder spree before it gets out of hand? Unlike other dark tales of monstrous creatures in today's urban fantasies, Harris takes a tongue-in-cheek approach. The writing is simple and basic—out of the mouths of teens, one might say. The absence of any strong, reliable, intelligent adult is a bit too convenient but that is part of the teen crime-solver plot. The story is definitely light and meant to entertain but strains credibility. It will not appeal to those who prefer the high drama and terror of typical werewolf stories but teens looking for a taste of horror without the intense drama and gore may find the book a lark. Reviewer: Sandra Eichelberger
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—In this sequel to Bad Taste in Boys (Delacorte, 2011), 17-year-old Kate Grable's confidence has shot way up. Not only did she cure the zombie virus that terrorized her town, but she also snagged popular quarterback Aaron as her boyfriend. When Kate joins the Future Doctors of America program, she gets an opportunity to work with the county medical examiner until he's arrested for murder. In an unlikely turn of events, she finds herself taking charge of the morgue. When one of her friends is attacked, Kate conducts her own investigation and discovers that it's not zombies she has to worry about this time, but something just as deadly. She has to autopsy dead bodies, solve a murder, chase down a monster, and keep a flirt from stealing her boyfriend. Kate combines the smarts of Veronica Mars with the attitude of Buffy. What the novel lacks in substance, it makes up for with Kate's unique, funny voice. She's fearless, likable, and everyone's go-to girl. At times both gory and completely over-the-top, Bad Hair Day is a fast-paced read sure to entice both male and female readers, and stands on its own.—Kimberly Garnick Giarratano, Rockaway Township Public Library, NJ

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


After all the zombie attacks, even the word made me twitchy. Especially when repeatedly moaned by an annoying freshman in the school bus loop at eight a.m. As if I wasn’t annoyed enough already—I’d gotten to school early because the Future Doctors of America program started today. According to plan, we should have been bouncing across the railroad tracks on Washington Ave. right about now. But instead, I stood in the gray winter slush with my fellow FDA students, watching the underclassmen arrive for school and scanning the loop in vain for the bus. It was fourteen and a half minutes late. The program would be starting without me; watching people act like complete morons only added insult to injury.

The freshman elbowed his buddies before putting his backpack on his head and staggering around with his arms outstretched. They laughed so hard I thought they’d burst something. Some people thought the zombie virus was hilarious. Obviously, they hadn’t seen the victims; my boyfriend’s best friend was still in assisted living. Brain damage. So I didn’t think it was all that funny when zombie boy staggered over and accidentally grabbed my breasts, one in each hand. And when I say accidentally, I really mean on purpose.

I knocked his hands off my chest, grabbed him by one backpack strap, and yanked him close enough to talk right in his ear. Or right in his backpack, anyway.

“Listen up, dork,” I said in the most pleasant voice possible, which wasn’t very pleasant at all. “I don’t have the time or the masochistic tendencies necessary to deal with you. So how about you keep out of my way, and I’ll pay you the same courtesy?”

He dumped the backpack on the ground and pushed me off. For a moment, I thought maybe he’d back down, but then his so-called friends started in on him.

“Uh-oh, Damian. I think you pissed her off!” crowed one.

“Look out! She’s gonna stake you!” added another.

“That’s for vampires, you morons,” I muttered, turning away. Not my smartest move. Damian-the-freshman didn’t like being taunted, so he shoved me to save face. It didn’t hurt or anything; I’m tougher than I look. But my backpack spilled all over the ground, and that ticked me off.

I’d never hit anybody before, but this was really the last straw. He was lucky someone interceded before I could swing.

“Hey, calm down.”

Trey Black stepped in front of me. He was a recent transfer from Southern California. Why anyone would want to trade that kind of weather for Ohio winters was beyond me. But here he was, and apparently he’d designated himself the sworn protector of freshman idiocy. I needed to get him together with my brother, Jonah. Jonah was the poster child for freshman idiocy.

I let out a long breath in a vain attempt to calm myself as I bent down to pick up my stuff. Trey had this knack for making me uncomfortable. He had tousled blond hair and surfer-boy good looks, and I wasn’t totally immune to that. But I had a boyfriend, and they were friends, so it felt really wrong when he acted flirty. Or looked at me. Or stood within fifteen feet of me. The fact that he flirted with anything in a skirt didn’t make it any easier to deal with.

“You okay?” He bent down beside me to pluck my calculus book from a mound of dirt-speckled snow. “You look pretty upset.”

“Yeah.” I glared at Damian, who flipped me off before heading to class with his friends. “Just a little stressed.”

“What’s wrong?”

He handed me the book with one of his patented charming smiles, his fingers grazing mine. A girl getting off the bus across from us took one look at him and nearly fainted. I tried to act like the “accidental” caress was no big deal, but I could feel the embarrassed heat in my cheeks. I started stuffing the books into my backpack. The worst part about it all was that he had never crossed the line, so I couldn’t be sure if I was overreacting.

“Just crazy busy this week,” I babbled. “I was up until almost midnight working on my slave-trade paper for American history, and I’ve got a huge pile of FDA makeup work, and I’m still not done with all the Rockathon prep, and my mom’s coming back from Germany this week. After it’s all over, I think I might go into hibernation.”

“Well, if you need any help . . .” He sidled closer to me. There was no way for me to stand up without getting within kissing distance. My legs started shaking from being crouched over too long, but the only choices were standing and giving Trey the wrong impression or plopping butt-first into half-melted bus slop.

I would have been stuck there forever if Aaron hadn’t walked over. But the minute he did, Trey backed off. Aaron Kingsman—my boyfriend—was smart, sweet, and salivatingly gorgeous, not that I was biased or anything. He was also the quarterback of our football team. I tried not to hold that against him. In return, he tried to pretend I wasn’t a semi-reformed nerd. I couldn’t decide which one of us had the more difficult task.

Trey’s face broke out into a huge grin. Seriously, he adored my boyfriend more than I did. I kept expecting him to tattoo Aaron in a big heart on his arm, but it hadn’t happened yet. Maybe he had put it on his butt instead.

“Hey, bro.” He punched Aaron on the shoulder. “Haven’t seen you in the weight room lately. Where’ve you been?”

“Sorry, just busy,” Aaron replied. He didn’t brush Trey off, exactly, but he pulled me to my feet and wrapped me in a hug. “Everything okay, Kate?”

I couldn’t complain, not with everything Aaron was going through. He went to visit his friend Mike every week, but the brain damage was so bad that Mike couldn’t remember who Aaron was. And part of that was my fault because I’d unknowingly helped my crazy teacher develop the zombie virus. But I’d cured it too; that had to count for something. So I pushed away my problems and said, “Yeah. Trey helped rescue me from a wannabe zombie.”

Aaron snorted. “You don’t need anyone to rescue you from anything, Kate.”

“Exactly.” Trey looked me up and down behind Aaron’s back.

Luckily, I didn’t have to reply. The bus pulled into the loop and screeched to a stop. When the door hissed open, Mrs. Gilbert, the FDA program liaison, stuck her head out with a slightly panicked smile. I would have been worried except that slight panic was her default setting. I could relate to that.

“All right, everyone!” she said. “We’re running a bit late here, so I’d appreciate it if you’d move move move!”

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