My Rotten Life (Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie Series #1)

( 17 )

Overview

Ten-year-old Nathan Abercrombie is having a really bad day. First, Shawna Lanchester, the prettiest girl in his class, doesn’t invite him to her party. Then he gets picked last in gym class. Things couldn’t get any worse…until he gets doused with an experimental serum that turns him into a half-dead zombie!

Nathan soon discovers that being half dead isn’t all bad. He doesn’t need any sleep, so he can stay up all night and play games online. He doesn’t feel any pain, so there’s ...

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Overview

Ten-year-old Nathan Abercrombie is having a really bad day. First, Shawna Lanchester, the prettiest girl in his class, doesn’t invite him to her party. Then he gets picked last in gym class. Things couldn’t get any worse…until he gets doused with an experimental serum that turns him into a half-dead zombie!

Nathan soon discovers that being half dead isn’t all bad. He doesn’t need any sleep, so he can stay up all night and play games online. He doesn’t feel any pain, so there’s no need to worry about Rodney the bully anymore. Still, Nathan would rather be human. Will he find a cure? Or will Nathan be half-dead forever?

Fans of David Lubar’s popular Weenies short story collections—which have sold more than one million copies—will love My Rotten Life, the first of a series of hilariously rotten adventures starring Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR MY ROTTEN LIFE:

“Being dead has never been cooler. Go Nathan Abercrombie! You’re a zombie for the 21st century.”—Gordon Korman, author of 39 Clues: One False Note and No More Dead Dogs

My Rotten Life stinks—but that's only when Nathan Abercrombie belches. The rest of the book is a delightful and disgusting story about friendship that will leave you in stitches.”—Lisa Yee, author of Millicent Min, Girl Genius

“If you like half dead zombie comedies, this is the book for you.”—Dan Gutman, author of Babe and Me

Publishers Weekly
In the first book in the Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie series, fifth-grader Nathan knows what it's like to be an outcast: he sits at the Second Besters table at school with kids who “score somewhere around minus two on a popularity scale of one to ten.” Then, he is doused with “Hurt-Be-Gone, the world's first all-natural, totally safe emotion killer,” which turns him into an almost-zombie. Unable to sleep or feel pain, Nathan masters the toughest video game on the market and leads his school to a track meet victory by doing hundreds of pull-ups. Lubar (True Talents) entertains with a “Wouldn't it be cool if...” kind of story that kids often try to write and especially love to read. Gross-out moments abound, such as when Nathan gets a fork stuck in his nose and later watches as his thumb pops off and is almost eaten by a dog. The over-the-top narrative will appeal to readers who like their humor twisted, and might even have some wishing that they, too, could be a half-dead zombie. Maybe. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Paula Rohrlick
Nathan Abercrombie, a fifth-grader in East Craven, N.J., resignedly sits with the other Second Besters in the cafeteria at lunch time. He has a crush on pretty Shawna, but since Nathan is not one of the popular kids, she just picks on him. Tired of having his heart stomped on, Nathan wishes aloud that he had no feelings at all. A classmate named Abigail overhears him and offers to help. Her neurobiologist uncle has come up with a formula that removes unwanted feelings and he is looking for test subjects. When they go to his lab, Nathan's clumsy friend Mookie manages to spill the formula all over Nathan, turning him into a half-dead zombie. It turns out being a zombie has some advantages: no need to sleep, so Nathan can play video games all night long; and no ability to feel pain, so he can do 239 push-ups and help his class win the field day competition. That wins him an invitation to Shawna's Halloween party, but Nathan starts noticing some undesirable side-effects of being a vampire: when he breaks his thumb, for instance, it falls right off and he has to glue it back on. If the cure is not found in time, Nathan will be a zombie forever. Boys in particular will relish the gross humor of this first book in a planned series about Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie. It is related in Nathan's wry voice, and his exploits are both amusing and amusingly told. Readers will eagerly anticipate the sequel. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Fifth-grader Nathan Abercrombie suffers the usual humiliations of middle-grade life: rejection, teasing, gym class. Then one day his friend Abigail's scientist uncle uses Nathan as a test subject for Hurt-Be-Gone, a serum that makes bad feelings disappear. The unexpected side effect is that Nathan turns into a 10-year-old zombie who must weigh the pros and cons of being undead while his friends engage in zany hijinks to find a cure for his condition. Matthew Brown and Kathleen McInerney provide excellent performances, using different vocal inflections to give each character in David Lubar's humorous tale (Starscape, 2009) a unique personality. For instance, Nathan's friend Mookie speaks in a slow, slightly nasal tone that reflects his dopey, if well-meaning, personality. Abigail's dialogue is rendered in a confident, matter-of-fact tone. Although Brown often changes his pitch to indicate Nathan's feelings, he generally reads in a calm, resigned tone. Nathan's adventures are introduced with mock-eerie, synthesized harpsichord music which recalls cheesy, B-grade horror film scores. At the end of the novel, the author reads his short story, "Frankendance." This audiobook serves as an excellent introduction to Lubar's mildly creepy tales and is sure to appeal to reluctant readers. A first-purchase for public libraries where audiobooks are popular.—Mary Landrum, Lexington Public Library, KY
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Product Details

Meet the Author

David Lubar

David Lubar created a sensation with his debut novel, Hidden Talents, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Thousands of kids and educators across the country have voted Hidden Talents onto over twenty state lists. David is also the author of True Talents, the sequel to Hidden Talents; Flip, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and a VOYA Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror selection; five short story collections: In the Land of the Lawn Weenies, Invasion of the Road Weenies, The Curse of the Campfire Weenies, The Battle of the Red Hot Pepper Weenies, and Attack of the Vampire Weenies; and the Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie series. Lubar grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, and he has also lived in New Brunswick, Edison, and Piscataway, NJ, and Sacramento, CA. Besides writing, he has also worked as a video game programmer and designer. He now lives in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Ouch

It's no fun having your heart ripped from your body, slammed to the floor, and stomped into a puddle of quivering red mush. It's even less fun when it happens three times in one afternoon.

First, Shawna Lanchester pranced up to me at lunch and said, "Did you know I'm having a Halloween party next Friday, Nathan?" She clutched her hands together like she was in danger of exploding from excitement.

I nodded, but I kept my mouth shut. I really didn't want to risk spraying Shawna with ketchup-coated hamburger particles. Girls are really weird about food once it's been chewed even a little bit. Especially girls who dress like they're about to pose for a magazine cover.

I knew about the party. The whole planet knew. Or, at least, the whole fifth grade. Shawna had a big Halloween party every year. I'd never been invited. Nobody at our table had ever been invited. I'd bet nobody at our table had ever talked with Shawna, either, even though we'd been in school together since kindergarten. I was making all sorts of history.

Shawna bounced on her heels. Her light-brown hair danced off her tanned shoulders. "Guess what?"

"Mmmmwwwtt?" That's how what sounds if you keep your lips pressed together when you talk. I tore my dull brown eyes away from Shawna's dazzling green ones just long enough to prove to myself what I'd suspected. Everyone was watching me. Mookie, Adam, Denali, and the other Second Besters at our pathetic table under the leak in the cafeteria ceiling were all staring at me like I'd just won the lottery, or the Super Bowl.

To my right, at least half the nerds had looked up from their chessboards, handheld games, and dungeon maps. To my left, the kids stuck at the Table of the Doomed were watching. Snail Girl—I didn't even know her real name—was staring at me over the top of her Sammy the Snail lunch box. As always, she was dressed in one of her endless snail shirts and wearing snail hair clips. Ferdinand Zweeler flinched when I caught his eye. Ferdinand was so frightened of everything, he should have been named Feardinand. Even weird Abigail, who came here last year from outer space—and still seems to live in deep space—had turned her head halfway in my direction.

The jocks, the skaters, and everyone else at all the large rectangular tables in the cafeteria were watching. I struggled to keep from grinning in triumph. Finally, the girl I'd had a crush on since third grade had noticed me. I wondered whether it was my new spiky haircut. Or the fact that I'd grown two inches over the summer. I snuck another glance at Mookie—the only person on the planet who knew how I felt. He flashed me a thumbs-up.

Shawna smiled. My heart melted.

Her teeth glistened. Her eyes sparkled. Her lips moved.

"You're not invited."

Rip. Slam. Stomp.

My heart splatted to the floor. It lay there, leaking across the tiles like a dropped scoop of raspberry sherbet.

Shawna spun away, grinding the remains of my heart under her heels. I tried to ignore the giggles that burst from Cydnie, Talissa, Bekkah, Lexi, and the other girls at her table, but I had a hard time swallowing.

I risked a quick glance around the cafeteria. The nerds had already gone back to slaying orcs and capturing castles. The jocks had gone back to punching one another. The Doomed were still staring. I guess it was a rare treat for them to see someone else get destroyed.

"Wow, that's totally cruel." Mookie pushed his glasses back up his nose, trapping some of the longer strands of his shaggy hair under the thick plastic frame. "I wonder why she picked you?"

I choked down the rest of my overchewed mouthful as I searched for an answer. "No idea. You'd think it would be enough for her to be popular, without having to crush the rest of us." I wanted to reach for my inhaler, but there was no way I was pulling it out right now.

"Popularity is overrated," Mookie said. "You don't have to be popular to have lots of friends."

Nobody bothered to answer him. We all knew the truth—in fifth grade, popularity was everything. As far as I could tell, part of popularity came from who you were, and part came from what you could do. Either way, the eight of us at the Second Besters table would score somewhere around minus two on a popularity scale of one to ten.

We were all second best—or maybe second worst—in some way. Mookie Vetch was the second-fattest kid in the fifth grade. I was the second-skinniest boy. Adam Kessler was the second-smartest kid, Denali Sherborg was the second-funniest girl, Jenny Chung was the second-best singer, Jerome Tully was the second-messiest kid, and Armando Cadiz was a triple-threat second bester who was the second-best dresser, the second-worst chatterbox, and the second-fastest reader in class.

The fattest kid, the skinniest boy, the funniest girl—they all had some kind of recognition that made them visible. Being second didn't mean anything. I guess it was sort of like being vice president. To tell the truth, Mookie wasn't all that fat, and I wasn't all that skinny. We pretty much weren't all that much of anything, except unnoticed.

"Typical bullying behavior," Adam said. "She's putting you down so she can feel better about herself."

"Thanks." I already knew that. Every kid who'd ever been picked on knew that. Our parents told us that. Our teachers told us that. Cute animated reptiles and vegetables on television told us that. It didn't help.

"I guess right now, she feels totally great about herself," Denali said.

The rest of the table laughed. I smiled, but it wasn't real.

When the bell rang, Mookie and I headed for gym. We had it three times a week, together with the boys from Mr. Walpole's home base. I'm not sure who decided it would be a great idea for kids to load up on grease-coated meat and deep-fried starch, topped off with a huge bowl of butterscotch pudding, and then do sit-ups. If I ever run into that genius, he's going to get kicked real hard in the stomach. Not that violence solves anything.

"Move it!" Mr. Lomux screamed as our class shuffled out the gym door toward the track. "We can't afford to waste time." Blue veins, like tiny candy worms, bulged on his shaved head.

"Seven?" I asked Mookie.

He squinted and started counting on his fingers. "I see eight."

"Oh, man—that's bad." We could always tell how angry Mr. Lomux was by counting veins. "I've never seen more than six." That was way back in third grade, when he'd made us do too many jumping jacks during a heat wave and half the class puked on the gym floor.

"I think he's stressed about field day," Mookie said.

"I heard that the school board is threatening to transfer him to the lower elementary school if he loses again." Our school, Belgosi Upper Elementary, had a big competition each year against Perrin Hall Academy in Hurston Lakes. The entire fifth grade of each school competed. They'd beaten us six times in a row. Hurston Lakes whomps our butts at everything. They have three elementary schools and at least five private schools.

East Craven is one of the smallest towns in New Jersey. All we have is Belgosi Upper and Borloff Lower. People keep moving out of town. Dad said it's all because of money. People who have a lot move to Hurston Lakes. People who want to spend less move across the river to Pennsylvania. Either way, people are leaving. Ours is the smallest fifth grade ever, with 144 kids in six classes.

"I need four captains," Mr. Lomux said. "We're going to break up into teams to practice."

A bunch of hands shot up.

"Pick me! Pick me!" Mookie screamed, waving his arms like he was trying to flag down an airplane.

A ninth vein appeared.

I didn't bother raising my hand. We're all supposed to get a chance to be a captain. But Mr. Lomux mostly picks the same sort of kids over and over. Today he picked Mort Ivanson, who's really fast; Rodney Mullasco, who's really big; and the Decker twins, who are the stars of the basketball team.

The four of them studied us like shoppers searching for the best melon in the supermarket. As their eyes flickered past me, I realized there was something much worse than not getting to be a captain.

I imagined myself standing alone on the edge of the field, watching everyone else join a team. Don't let me be picked last. Not today, when I was still waiting for my heart to crawl from the cafeteria floor and back through the gaping hole in my chest.

I tried to catch Mort's eye. He was the nicest of the four, and the only one I'd ever hung out with—even though it was way back in second grade. He looked at me and smiled. This was great. Maybe I'd be picked first for a change. That would help save this from being a totally rotten day.

The captains began making their picks. Mort pointed at me. I started to trot over to join him. Things were finally going my way.

Excerpted from MY ROTTEN LIFE by David Lubar

Copyright © 2009 by David Lubar

Published in August 2009 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

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(10)

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(6)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 18 of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 12, 2010

    funny book recomended for fourth graders

    its a funny book about this kid named nathan how is down in the dumps becus this girl stomped his heart out at lunch time and this aother girl and his baest fraind named mookie and the girl said that her uncl maed this new potion that makes you forget all aboute your bad felings but the potion spilles all over his shirt and he graduly beekoms a zombie and its a fuuny book and recomend it a lot

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Middle school readers will enjoy the escapades of Nathan

    Belgosi Upper Elementary Fifth grader Nathan Abercrombie knows three strikes you're out in baseball though he does not play sports due to his asthmatic condition. However, he soon learns that on this particular day being a card carrying member of the Second Besters is a highlight film after his already rotten life equates to four strikes and you're sort of dead.

    In the lunch hall, Shawna Lanchester tosses the first mortar; she announces for all to hear he is not invited to her party. Next gym teacher Mr. Lomax throws hand grenade number two when he picks four captains to pick the others for their teams as they train for a competition with a rival school that they have lost to for the past few years; Nathan is the last one selected. The third strike is playing with Caleb's zombie killing video game in which Nathan's "men" die instantly, spastic is a kind description of what his classmates' state.

    He takes heart when weird newcomer Abigail brings him to her Uncle Zardo, a scientist who has invented a potion to stop people from feeling bad. An accident leads to Nathan being doused with the entire serum instead of a drop as the cops crash into the lab to arrest Zardo. Strike four is being half-dead though the benefits are feeling no pain from oven heated pots to Rodney the bully, but how to explain to mom and dad you can't eat any food as it rots in the stomach.
    .
    Middle school readers will enjoy the escapades of Nathan, his best friend Mookie and Abigail as one thing leads to another until the protagonist agrees to be a subject of the "Hurt Be Gone" experiment, which only makes his life more rotten. Fast-paced throughout, young readers will enjoy MY ROTTEN LIFE as it is fun to read while a strong message encourages the audience to stay positive.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2014

    Nathant Nathan aberce Nathan abercrombie

    Very funny

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    HubbASfhhfc

    Great book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    This is a superfunny book

    Nathan is the underdog we have all been looking for. Go nathan!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2013

    Cfg

    B c

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2012

    Go Nathan!

    I love this series!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    Bookhead

    Awesome! Its a great book for all ages

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2012

    Really good book. You must buy it

    I really like the book. It is really interesting as you get deeper in it. Ur like, is he going to survive?

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  • Posted October 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jaglvr for TeensReadToo.com

    Never say that you are having a bad day. Nothing can compare to the day Nathan has had!

    When he wants to just get rid of his bad feelings, the new girl, Abigail, suggests that her uncle has a magic potion in his lab that can do the trick! So Nathan, his best friend, Mookie, and Abigail head off to the lab to get the "Hurt Be Gone." But at the lab, Nathan is splashed by some strange liquid and soon, he starts to feel weird.

    When he reports to Abigail that his body doesn't feel right and things are happening, they try to go back to the lab. However, they soon discover that Abigail's uncle had to run from the law, and he can no longer help them.

    Nathan is dejected, but goes on with his life. When he gets poked in the nose with a fork, and no blood comes out, he knows that he's in serious trouble. He also starts to give off a foul stench. It's Mookie who discovers that Nathan isn't digesting his food anymore and helps him in a creative way to relieve himself of his stomach contents.

    Abigail is certain she can help Nathan, so the three begin a quest for the ingredients Abigail will require. The three friends hit the aquarium, the woods, and even manage an invitation to Shawna's (the popular girl's) party to find the things they need.

    MY ROTTEN LIFE is a story that will certainly appeal to boys. With lots of gross talk and body parts falling off, they will be giggling and enraptured until the final page. Listening to the story as an audio book will add more appeal, because the narrators are able to read the descriptions in vivid detail. Read by both male and female voices, the story moves quickly as Nathan struggles to retain his humanity.

    MY ROTTEN LIFE is the perfect story for young readers to pick up, especially during the Halloween season.

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  • Posted September 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Maybe Being Half-Dead is Not Half-Bad

    Nathan Abercrombie is a typical fifth-grader with ordinary fifth-grade problems: he is the second skinniest kid in school, which secures him a position at the "second-best" table with the other less popular students. He has issues with "catty," more popular girls, overbearing bullies, and gym teachers. Life for Nathan is rough. So when his life's course is altered by his being exposed to an experimental serum that turns him into a zombie, he is not terribly bothered by the ordeal. After all, he has more time for video games, since he no longer requires sleep. And bullies will never be a problem for a kid who no longer experiences pain.
    Being half-dead may not be that bad, and Nathan is even starting to become more popular at his school because of it. But what if he wanted to become human again? Is there even a way of returning to his real life from this half-dead life that he now calls his own? Find out in the first book from an all-new series from David Lubar, My Rotten Life: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie.
    David Lubar is an author whose work has been highly praised by reviewers of children's literature. His first novel, Hidden Talents, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and his subsequents works have been well-received by young readers everywhere. This latest work deals with the hilarity and hijinks that are merely an integral part of childhood for so many. His latest novel is a delightful, comedic read best suited to middle grade readers.

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  • Posted August 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Fantasy Read!

    This is a great book, no matter what age group you are. It was a fun fantasy read and a trip back to being that age, but as a zombie. I see there is a sequel coming. Put this down as a book to give out for gifts. Or as I just did buy the book, read it and pass it on. A good introduction to fantasy and zombies.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2010

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    Posted March 25, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2011

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    Posted November 24, 2011

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