Ponti, James. Dead City.
2 October 2012, Simon and Schuster
Molly has a full life-- she fences, enjoys her school (MIST-- Metropolitan Institute of Science and Technology), and hangs out at the local morgue in an effort to feel closer to her mother, who worked there but has passed away from cancer. When an odd occurrence happens at the morgue, Molly finds out from school mate Natalie that Molly's mother was an Omega, or a zombie killer, and Molly is, too. This is why Molly's mother had her take martial arts classes and memorize the periodic table, which the Omegas use to construct codes. New York City has been plagued by zombies ever since 13 workers were killed while digging subway tunnels, since the city is build on a layer of schist that keeps the zombies fresh. After undergoing Omega training, Molly is ready to fight zombies if she needs to, and when the evil Marek shows up and puts the city in danger, all of her skills are handy. The ending leads me to believe that there might be a second book in the offing.
Strengths: Anything with zombies is popular right now. I should probably buy Zombiekins, but can't bring myself to! I love that Molly is capable and well trained, and fairly unflinching when it comes to killing zombies, although she does have enough humanity to question the need to kill them at first. The zombie mythology is well developed and makes sense. Nice twist at the end.
Weaknesses: I don't have any girls asking for zombie books, so the scene at the beginning where Molly does a zombie in with her flat iron, and the one where she and her sister bond over make up, are not going to go over well with the zombie target demographic. While I love strong female characters, I would definitely have gone with a boy as the main character of this one. Maybe that's just my school, though, and there is a crying need for zombie books with girls as the main character. In that case, this is an awesome addition to the zombie genre.
Stine, R.L. Son of Slappy (Goosebumps: Most Wanted #2)
1 January 2013, Scholastic
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there
Jackson is a good kid-- he really believes that it's easier to do nice things than to get in trouble all the time. It's his sister, Rachel, who is a problem child. When the two go visit their wacky grandfather at his spooky house, they are both kind of creeped out by their grandfather's weird collections. Historical nooses are pretty calm, but the collection of ventriloquist dummies are frightening. Jackson mentions that he might want to do a show with one at the Youth Center to his grandfather, but he's still surprised that the dummy is in his suitcase when he gets home. Supposedly the doll is just a copy of the evil Slappy, but when Rachel says the nonsense words on a piece of paper, Slappy comes to life. Not only that, but he starts to control Jackson and make him do bad things all the time! All Jackson has to hear is a "click" and without being able to control himself, he's ruining paintings, covering neighbors kitchens with cake batter... and even worse. Can he manage to break free from Slappy's hold on him before something truly terrible happens?
Strengths: Stine is a master of juvenile horror-- creepy things that happen that could never happen in real life. It's fun to be scared by the thought of an evil doll possessing someone and making him do bad things. I'm starting to get the appeal of these more and more!
Weaknesses: Cheesy goodness, not great literature. From a library standpoint, I was hoping that this series would continue to be published in hardcover, since the first one was, but it looks like they only come in paperback now.