Title: The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses
Author: Ty Drago
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
May Contain Spoilers
"On a sunny Wednesday morning in October, a day that would mark the end of one life and the beginning of another, I found out my grouchy next door neighbor was the walking dead. When you turn around expecting to see something familiar, and instead see something else altogether, it takes a little while for your brain to catch up with your eyes. I call it the ‘Holy Crap Factor.’"
Forced to flee his home and family, twelve-year-old Will Ritter falls in with the Undertakers-a rag-tag army of teenage resistance fighters who’ve banded together to battle the Corpses.
Wow, have my reading tastes changed! Just a little while ago I would have avoided a horror yarn like the plague! Especially one with zombies. They are so scary! And gross, with all of that rotting flesh and vomit-inducing stench. Yuck! Why do I like to read about them now? Zombies rock!
I felt so bad for protagonist Will! When his cranky neighbor suddenly looks like a walking corpse, he thinks he’s losing his mind. Then, suddenly, most of his teachers look like they just crawled out of a coffin, too! Talk about being confused! And frightened! When they discover that he can see them, try to kill him, and Will is running for his life. He can’t go home because he’ll put his family in danger, he’s terrified, and he has to put his trust, and his life, into the hands of a bunch of kids he’s just met. Yeah, that will pretty much ruin anyone’s day.
I loved the complexity of the zombies in Ty Drago’s first installment of this MG horror series. The Corpses aren’t your typical slow, stupid creatures craving nothing but brains; these guys want nothing less than to rule the world. They are smart, they are fast, and they look like normal people. Only a few kids can see the monsters for what they really are, and they have banded together to try to save as many kids as they possible can. Once the Corpses realize that someone can see them, they will stop at nothing to kill them to keep their secret safe. It’s not like anyone would listen if some kid said they were seeing zombies mingling with the rest of society, especially when the Corpses have infiltrated the local police department.
Will is only 12 years old, and he acts and thinks like a 12 year old. He wants to go home, and he wants his mom to magically fix this nightmare. He isn’t used to relying on himself, and he’s finding that it’s not much fun. It’s kind of stressful, actually, trying to keep a few steps ahead of the rotting corpses that will do anything to get him in their decaying clutches. Will is special, and the Corpses have been watching him for a long time. They have a lot more resources at their disposal than Will and his new group of friends, who call themselves the Undertakers.
The Undertakers are led by Tom and Sharyn, two street savvy kids who knew Will’s father before he died. I liked this story thread, and thought it made Will seem even more convincing. He is jealous to discover that his father was leading a secret life, helping the Undertakers defend against the Corpses. Will’s resentment is strong, and it affects his relationship with all of the Undertakers. It’s a great weakness that gives him a chance to develop and become more mature, as he learns to forgive, and accept, that his dad was caught up in a very dangerous game that he had little chance of winning.
With non-stop action, The Undertakers is a fast read, despite weighing in at almost 500 pages. It kept me engaged in the plot, and provided plenty of thrills and chills. I want to learn more about the Corpses, and I wonder how a bunch of kids are going to defeat them and stop them from slowly taking over the planet. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series; this introductory volume was a lot of fun!
Grade: B, leaning towards a B+
Review copy provided by publisher