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Kiss of Life: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Life is always about choices. It’s about Phoebe Kendall befriending Karen DeSonne, the “differently biotic” girl next door and choosing to go to homecoming with Tommy Williams, the “differently biotic” boy next door. It’s about Tommy standing immobile when Pete Martinsburg pointed a gun at Phoebe’s head. It’s about Adam taking a bullet to save Phoebe. And, even though his “traditionally biotic” life might be over, it’s about Adam coming back–maybe for himself but probably for Phoebe, the girl he loves.

Adam isn’t alone.

All over the country, dead teenagers are waking up and rejoining the living with varying degrees of success. No one knows why some teenagers come back and some don’t. The only certainty is that everything changed the moment these zombies began trying to reconnect with the world of the living.

Adam’s death and return have rocked the city of Oakvale, Connecticut to its core. What really happened that night? Is it murder if the the victim can get up and walk away? Does a dead person deserve the same rights as a living person? Wouldn’t things be simpler if all of the zombies would just go away?

Vandalism and social protest abound as some of the zombies try to remind Oakvale that they aren’t going anywhere. But instead of raising awareness, the Sons of Romero might just be putting a bigger target on their differently biotic backs.

While Phoebe struggles to bring Adam back as much as she can, Tommy and Karen try to act as voices of reason among the zombie community. But the time for reason might be over in Kiss of Life (2009) by Daniel Waters.

This sequel picks up shortly after the disastragic conclusion of Generation Dead leaving all of the characters to deal with the fallout, and the grief, in their own ways.

Don’t let the blurb or excerpt fool you. Both try to play up the Dramatic Love Triangle angle to lethal effect* but Kiss of Life is smarter than that. Waters continues to use the dichotomy between traditionally and differently biotic people to examine matters of tolerance and equality in a clever, original way.

In fact, even though this book is necessarily about Adam and his return, the book’s main event is really the polarizing nature of the newly dead arriving in Oakvale (and the rest of the country) and their own attempts to raise awareness and get some rights. Social protest is a big part of the story but so is, for lack of a better term, the meaning of life as all of the differently biotic characters try to make sense of what their returns really mean for them and, in a greater context, for the world at large.

I always said that Generation Dead was a really smart book. If possible, Kiss of Life is even more on point. It’s exciting, it gets under your skin, and it’s socially aware. Waters’ characters are charming and terrifying as he shows events not only from the heroes’ viewpoints but also from that of a villain. Nothing is black and white here. Add to that a dramatic finish and one of the most heart-wrenching love stories ever and you have something really exceptional.

Possible Pairings: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Demon’s Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel, Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan, Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde, Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

*I was so excited about this sequel, but when I saw the blurb and excerpt I was so angry because this was one of those moments where there was absolutely no contest (Adam all the way, always and no matter what) but it really seemed like there was. I put off reading this book for almost a year because I DID NOT need to watch Phoebe spend a whole book mulling over which zombie boy she really loved. But the book is not about that AT ALL as the story really continues in the same vein as the first book. And I wish I knew that a year ago.

Exclusive Bonus Content: Like its predecessor, this book also has a fantastic wraparound cover that makes use of the full jacket. I get a little teary when I look at it, thinking “Oh, Adam.” every time. But aside from that it’s awesome. I don’t know who is finding these models but they are spot-on in capturing all of the characters and the whole “zombie” look. I love everything about this cover. (Click on the picture if you want to see it in its enormous full-sized image glory.)

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