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Freshman Tom Coleman studies for the PSAT, works for free at the Food Giant his dad runs and plays Nintendo in this rural Pennsylvania town in the fall of 2001, when terrorists and methamphetamine suddenly become big threats.
Bloor (Taken, 2007, etc.) opens with an attempted robbery, allowing Tom to show off his quick thinking.It is the first symptom Tom notices of the coming "plague." Tom will need more than academic smarts and a hearty work ethic as the town collectively succumbs to meth addiction. Key is a group counseling session about drugs and addiction led by a therapist from outside the community. Both this sophisticated therapist and her good-looking daughter hold an exotic, outsider appeal for Tom. Tom's family has struggled with addiction in the past, providing a layer of poignancy. As the town goes from a vague awareness of drugs to being overrun by zombie addicts, Tom and the town are challenged to respond. In other hands, the nearby downing of Flight 93 could overshadow the plague, but Bloor's insight into ordinary people provides a great prism through which to view the events. The language is not particularly elegant (some dialogue is realistically crude), but it carries the big ideas sturdily and with affection for the community and its people.
A likable teen successfully explores a significant social issue without preaching or becoming a symbol. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted October 22, 2011
Tom Coleman's dad works very hard as the manager of the Food Mart in town. He always seems to be hustling in and out of the store. One morning his father runs in once again telling Tom he will be right out to take him to school. Tom waits in the van in the parking lot, and decides to use the extra time to study. As he sits there, Bobby Smalls pulls into the parking lot and almost races to the door. Bobby is one of those "perfect workers" who's dedicated, always on time, and makes the Food Mart his life. What Tom Coleman doesn't expect is the truck that pulls in, backs up to the store, and a man exiting the vehicle with a compound bow in his hand. It's almost as if Tom is suddenly stuck in some 'big screen' war movie instead of the normal, everyday life he always lives. But this is no movie; the men in this truck are there to do some serious damage. Without thinking, Tom begins to beep the horn to warn his dad inside the store. Then, he guns the engine of the van and races toward the evil-doers, trying to save both Bobby Smalls and his father from getting killed. Thankfully, he does. But that is nowhere near the end of what is about to take on Tom's town; there is a plague that is about to begin, and that plague has a name - meth. Tom Coleman is a boy who seriously just wants a normal life. Get through school, go off to college, and deal with his sister, Lily, who seems to be headed in a much darker direction than she should be going in. Listening to Lily and his mother fight constantly about the counseling program that Mom says she needs to be in because Lily took a hit off a joint, is just one of the events that seems to be happening daily. But normalcy soon turns into a war - in Tom's own house, as well as outside the walls. The zombies in this novel are quite different from the 'fantastical' creatures that many authors put in their horror or sci-fi stories. These zombies, with their red eyes, rotted teeth, and pasty skin - are creatures who are very real, and some even look like your neighbors and friends. Things are being stolen, odd chemicals are being purchased at the Food Mart, explosions are taking out houses, and people are beating each other to death to get the main ingredient that they have to have in order to survive. There is nothing Tom wants more than to leave his now disgusting town and turn his back on the creatures that are going to eventually tear he and his family apart. But as Tom showed with his first heroic save, he will NOT go quietly. Tom Coleman is prepared to fight this plague until his final day. Exciting is not really the word to use here. Reality is. This author has brought to all YA's (and adults) the very real plague that is happening on all of our streets right this second. Although the characters and plot are certainly right on the money, this is definitely not an entertaining ride or a thrills and chills YA novel - THIS is truth. Quill Says: A good book that is ultimately an educational text that should be used in high schools across the country.
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Posted October 2, 2011
Posted March 20, 2013
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