Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Play Dead: Zombies & Unexpected Heroes

Play Dead
Author: Ryan Brown
Hardcover: 344 pages
Publisher: Gallery
First Edition edition (May 4, 2010)
Available from Amazon

Summary: For the first time in Killington High School history, the Jackrabbits football team is one win away from the district championship where it will face its most vicious rival, the Elmwood Heights Badgers. On the way to the game, the Jackrabbits’s bus plunges into a river, killing every player except for bad-boy quarterback Cole Logan who is certain the crash was no accident—given that Cole himself was severely injured in a brutal attack by three ski-masked men earlier that day. Bent on payback, Cole turns to a mysterious fan skilled in black magic to resurrect his teammates.

I received Play Dead as part of the book tour and contest I'm hosting today. Zombies. People either love 'em or hate 'em, depending on the book or movie. I like my zombies with a good dose of humor and suspense. Anyone can write about the undead munching on humans, but it's the creative minds that add a bit more to the mix. Ryan Brown had an idea, and he ran with it, much like a quarterback runs with his beloved football. Play Dead takes the hardcore high school football players, fans, and boosters and poses the question: What will some people do to WIN?

Simon & Schuster quotes Ryan Brown as saying:
"I considered what type of 'monsters' could actually be competitive against the most juiced-up football team I could imagine? Why, zombies of course. I really got excited about the idea of a zombie football team being the good guys...the team to cheer for."

I love that the author starts out with competitive craziness and pranks that go wrong, moves on to the black humor of zombies, then builds to the suspense and horror of a town in danger. I loved the humor, but also appreciated the author making us think about competition and doing anything for the big win. How far is too far?

Mr. Brown threw in some high school romance, teenage angst, abusive parenting, irony and a lesson about "playing God" in our own and other's lives, which made Play Dead much more than a typical zombie story. He attended high school in Texas, which I think really comes through in the book as he describes the town and it's residents in this book.

I really enjoyed Play Dead and would recommend it to fans of Dean Koontz and Stephen King. It's a faced paced thriller with shades of horror. Though the plot involves high school teenagers, the book is pretty gritty, including the language. I would let a mature 16 or 17 year old read the book. They've heard it all at that point in their life as far as language.

The publisher has graciously allowed me to give away one hardbound copy of Play Dead. As usual, I'll ask a question, and you use your comment to answer the question as your entry. Leave your email if it's not in your profile or blog link. I will pick a random winner on June 1st, 2010 and post it on the blog.

Question: Do you have a favorite zombie book or movie? What is it, or why don't you have one?

Zombieland is my favorite movie because I really need humor to offset the grossness of zombies. They are truly gross!