"Zombie will make you laugh, shake your head in recognition, and go for the aluminum bat in your basement."
—Ned Vizzini, author of It's Kind of a Funny Story
"Wow! A crazy, wicked, knock-out of a book!"
—Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
“ It’s simultaneously a bildungsroman à la Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, an homage to zombies in pop culture, and a twisted mystery all wrapped up into one utterly original – and darkly delightful – novel.”
"A brass-knuckle book, reminiscent in tone to Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club.... A great choice for readers who are excited by stories with offbeat characters."
—School Library Journal
“Zombie is one of the smartest, strangest, and most beautifully crafted coming-of-age stories you will ever encounter.”
—Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time
"Angelella’s debut novel crackles with energy and attitude."
“An irreverent and twisted coming-of-age story with one of the most shocking endings I’ve ever read.”
—Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook
“If you want to know how teenagers feel and what they say when adults aren’t around, Zombie–a funny and very authentic, well-written first novel by J. R. Angelella–should definitely be the next book you read.”
—John Waters, author of Role Models, and director of Hairspray and Pink Flamingos.
"Your home life's an apocalypse, school's the plague, and you're growing up in a wasteland. To survive this zombie movie of a life is probably going to take more than you've got. But a world where the dead walk is also a world with miracles. Have faith. Read this book."
—Stephen Graham Jones, author of Growing Up Dead in Texas
“Barker is clearly a spiritual successor to Salinger’s Holden Caulfield.... I haven’t finished a book this quickly since I first read American Psycho.”
—The Lit Pub
"Zombie basically starts at 10 mph and ends at 100.... The book got better and better as I read."
"A coming-of-age taleangry and violent but full of heartwith stellar prose, first-rate dialogue and a cinematic eye for detail."
“Zombie is fierce, brave and entertaining literature.”
"A superb debut."
"Dark and unforgettable."
—Horror News Net
“Overall, Zombie may be a weird book but it has something to say. It deals with relevant and relatable issues, it has interesting and likable characters, it is humorous, and it subtly underscores flaws in society.”
"You won’t forget these characters, or the Zombie Survival Code quickly."
"When it starts to slip into David Lynch territory, I was absolutely mesmerized...The final act is gruesome and cathartic, smart and gripping. I would recommend this book to anyone. This is easily one on of the most entertaining novels I've read in years."
—The Blog of the Living Dead
Jeremy Barker, 14, lives his life based on a code culled from his favorite zombie movies. This mental preparation allows him to cope with his real-world problems, like life at an all-boy Catholic high school, girls, and his parents' separation. When a dark secret that his father has been harboring comes to light, Jeremy tries to comprehend actual horrors, for which all the zombie movies in the world couldn't prepare him. This debut novel tries to walk a narrow tightrope as a bildungsroman that goes to very dark places. There are a number of potentially compelling characters, all of whom could have been protagonists of their own novels; however, the author crams in too many and does not have the space to develop most beyond a collection of quirks. VERDICT In addition to underdeveloped characters, the narrative bogs down under its own weight before picking up the tempo for a breakneck finale. Despite the lack of actual undead, fans of zombie movies and literature will enjoy Jeremy as a protagonist and appreciate the attention that the author lavishes on the genre.—Pete Petruski, Cumberland Cty. Lib. Syst., Carlisle, PA
Angelella creates a weird brew here, featuring an eight-fingered priest, pill and sex addicts, cultish rituals and the Byron Hall Catholic High School for Boys. Narrator Jeremy Barker is beginning his freshman year at Byron Hall, and it's fair to say he's obsessed with Zombie films. He can rattle off his Ten Best like nobody's business, and he's even created a personal code of conduct derived from his obsession (e.g., Avoid Eye Contact, Keep Quiet, Fight to Survive). In fact, the novel is so zombie-drenched that the titles of his favorite movies serve as chapter titles as well (the one exception being The Greatest Story Ever Told, which a priest has hooked Jeremy into by suggesting that Lazarus and Jesus might be the first zombies ever—think about it). Jeremy's home life is, to put it charitably, disordered, for his mother is addicted to pills (though she offers up a prayer before partaking), his older brother is addicted to sex, and his father turns most of their conversations into uncomfortable sexual innuendo. Jeremy's only love comes from his dog, whom Angelella, with irritating cuteness, names "Dog." Although Jeremy voyeuristically checks out his neighbor, a college student, and falls for Aimee, a student director at the local girls' Catholic school, his main preoccupation is figuring out what his father is up to, for Jeremy gets evidence that he's colluding with Mr. Rembrandt, an eight-fingered priest who just happens to be Jeremy's English teacher. All of the weirdness adds up to not very much, and Angelella has an irksome habit of nudging the reader in the ribs with his wit and cleverness.