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Despite its surface resemblance to satires like Daniel Waters's recent Generation Dead(reviewed Apr. 21), James's (Pure Sunshine) zombie novel plays its horror theme for chills, not laughs. Over the past six years, Hannah has gotten used to abrupt moves with her single father, a former cop who now stays barely a step ahead of the debt collectors. But when the two take up residence in tiny Maplecrest, Vt., Hannah soon realizes something isn't right. A clan of too-perfect blonde cheerleaders runs the high school, where the football team is known as the Death Squad. An outcast warns Hannah of the cheerleaders' malevolence, and predicts, correctly, that they will court Hannah. Finding the promise of instant status too potent to resist forever, she eventually joins their team, only to learn the town's deadly secret. James does a wonderfully authentic job depicting the love-hate feelings Hannah has for her father, and Hannah's smart narrative voice largely compensates for the lack of action (the suspense doesn't kick in until the finale); the author is better at portraying the real-life aspects of high school and family dynamics than at sending shivers down the spine. Ages 12-up. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.