Garner, Em. Contaminated
23 July 2013, Egmont USA
Velvet is struggling after the devastating catastrophe that killed her father and reduced her mother to a zombie. The animal proteins in ThinPro made the brains of those who ingested it look "like Swiss cheese" and turned them into violent monsters. At first, all affected were just killed, but when the government found they could lobotomize them or fit them with shock collars, some people survive. Velvet has been trying to go to school and support her sister by working part time in a nursing home while living in government subsidized housing. She's glad when she finally locates her mother at a kennel for "connies" run by Jean and her son Dillon, but when her landlord finds out that her mother has moved home, he kicks her out. With Dillon's help, Velvet moves back to her old house far from town, which leads to other problems, such as losing her job and having to take her sister out of school. Her mother seems to be improving, however, so she keeps on. When a secondary outbreak of the disease causes the government to round up any one wearing a collar, Velvet has to find a way to save her mother yet again.
Strengths: I really, really want to read the sequel RIGHT NOW. I think there will be one because of the ending, but can't find official confirmation. The dystopian setting was very realistic, Velvet tries so hard to keep things together, and I liked her romance with Dillon.
Weaknesses: While this is technically a zombie book, it isn't the sort of zombie book that my boys tend to like. There's some zombie violence, but most of the book deals with Velvet's problems caring for her mother-- feeding her, bathing her, getting her to the restroom. This is more of a book for fans of Crossed and other dystopian novels.