Two Minute DNF Review: Eat, Brains, Love by Jeff Hart

Saturday, November 30, 2013
Title: Eat, Brains, Love
Author: Jeff Hart
Genre: young adult, zombies
Series: Untitled #1
Pages: 352
Published: October 1 2013
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 2/5

Two teenage zombies search for brains, love, and answers in this surprisingly romantic and laugh-out-loud funny debut novel with guts.

Jake Stephens was always an average, fly-under-the-radar guy. The kind of guy who would never catch the attention of an insanely popular girl like Amanda Blake-or a psychic teenage government agent like Cass. But one day during lunch, Jake's whole life changed. He and Amanda suddenly locked eyes across the cafeteria, and at the exact same instant, they turned into zombies and devoured half their senior class.

Now Jake definitely has Amanda's attention-as well as Cass's, since she's been sent on a top-secret mission to hunt them down. As Jake and Amanda deal with the existential guilt of eating their best friends, Cass struggles with a growing psychic dilemma of her own-one that will lead the three of them on an epic journey across the country and make them question what it means to truly be alive. Or undead.

Eat, Brains, Love is supposed to be a funny, gory, weird book. It's in that weird/alternative zombie- niche that Isaac Marion first carved out with Warm Bodies in 2010. It's not your typical run-run-danger-I'm-gonna-get-eaten zombie read. As implied with the title, there's a lot more humor and romance to be found here than in a typical walking dead situation.

I didn't dislike the book -- I just wasn't invested enough to keep going. Even after Jack and Amanda "necrotize" in the school cafeteria and start eating their classmates, I was strangely disconnected. A kid gets feasted on -- it's Jack's best friend! -- and I just went, "Eh. Sucks." For a book to work, it has to click emotionally. Be it with the characters themselves, with the writing or the plotting. If there's nothing keeping me turning those pages, I won't. Alternating perspectives and a brisk pace help, but the story itself is nothing to write home about.

I will say that the mythos Hart creates for his zombies is both original and intriguing. The idea that "necrotizing" leads to eating humans which leads to a reprieve from necrotizing.... until the next time the person needs to feed. They're not the classic perma-zombies, but a weird mix of alternatively human one moment and zombie the next. I can't really vouch for how well Hart sells it since I was out of thereabout 135 pages in, but it definitely has potential.

This just wasn't a good fit for me. I've been venturing more and more into the horror genre, but the YA versions seem to leave me colder than their adult counterparts. If you're a reader who enjoys YA zombies, this is your book. (This is from a book packaging company, which may help explain its blandness.)

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