Passing Strange

Passing Strange by Daniel Waters is a Generation Dead novel. While I think the book is most effective read within the series it can stand alone. I’m going to outline some major issues it deals with and then talk about the plot.

“I pretended I wasn’t depressed. I pretended I wasn’t in love–look where that got me. I pretended lots of other thing too, and now I’m pretending I’m alive.”

Issues It Deals With

Passing Strange (Generation Dead, #3)Depression:

“sometime almost feeling alive is worse than not feeling alive at all. When I was depressed, that’s what I felt like, like I was almost alive. And knowing I’d never quite make it the rest of the way” (Waters 144)

Karen became a zombie because she killed herself, and in this book she explores why she did it,  “the blue fog took me away” (145). Throughout the book Karen brings up a “fog” of sadness that prevented her from enjoying or even fully participating in life. She was held back by her depression, and it seemed to define her.

Waters uses Karen to argue that “there aren’t any reasons for most young suicides beyond depression, just triggers” (145). He also offers some ways of dealing with depression; “Friend who can listen are a good antidote to the fog” (177).  In fact love and friendship seem to be what bring zombies back, the ones who have supportive families or relationships have better dexterity and speech. Love gets you through the zombish fog of depression.

I like that Waters doesn’t brush over Karen’s family’s reactions to her suicide. Her mother doesn’t want to deal with her at all, her father seems hurt and distant, and her sister doesn’t realize it ever happened. Her father’s private way of dealing with her death is explored in some detail later in the book (149), I won’t spoil it but it made me relate to him a lot better.

Homosexuality 

It takes a long time in the novel for her to come out and say it, but a factor in her suicide was her inability to come out of the closet. She talks about her confusion about her feelings, her denial to herself about being in love.

“I didn’t want to be gay. I was too scared to be gay.”(203)

She discusses how her fear of showing her true feelings in public or being seen with the girl she loved hurt that girl she was ashamed of. Karen had an extremely painful coming out to her mother, and partly because of this she continued to date boys even as a zombie. She has trouble reconciling her faith and her sexuality, and finds it easier to tell the priest she killed herself than telling him she is a lesbian. I’m definitely not an expert on the difficulties of having a minority sexual orientation but I think Waters did a good job at exploring the difficulty LGBQ teens face.

The Insightfulness of Young Children

Karen’s little sister Katy sees that there is prejudice going on and she doesn’t like it. Waters uses a scene of playing with Barbies to show that kids pick up on things. Katy makes her prettiest Barbie a zombie like her sister. She explains to Karen that no one likes this Barbie because she is dead, but that the Barbie shouldn’t be sad, because she still thinks she’s nice and pretty. This is Katy’s way of telling Karen she sees that she is being mistreated but she still loves her.

When Karen gets depressed again and spends all day in her room her very young sister comes to the conclusion that “the bad mans got you!” because she knows from overhearing adults that zombies are being slaughtered.

Prejudice in General

The zombies in Waters world have no civil rights; “We can’t get insurance. We can’t vote, we can’t get married. There isn’t much we can do” (92). This reminds me of in X-Men when Gene Gray goes to Washington to fight for mutant rights, even though in Passing Strange we only hear snippets from Tommy who has done just that.

Ok so now that I’ve talked about what issues Waters explores are you intrigued?

Plot

Karen is badly wounded in the attack that takes place at the end of Kiss Of Life but discovers that unlike any recorded zombie she has the ability to heal!  In no time she is her beautiful self again and looks and moves more human than any of her undead friends. She dyes her hair, uses colour contacts, makeup and voila she can pass as human. She works at the mall pretending to be alive, partly to prove she can, partly to lay the way for future zombies and also because she likes being treated like a human. When Pete, the guy who killed Adam in Generation Dead, flirts with her and doesn’t recognize her from the time he threatened to kill her she sees an opportunity. Now she must tolerate dating Pete to get close and prove that he framed zombies for violence and prevent him from murdering her best friend.

My Thoughts

I enjoyed the book a lot but maybe not as much as Generation Dead. It dealt more directly with the issues that were touched on briefly in the other books, this was great but slowed down the action. There were a few really suspenseful chapters that kept me up late because I couldn’t stop reading until I found out what happened. I will read pretty much anything Waters writes because he’s been consistently awesome.

End of 2010 Survey!

The Perpetual Page Turner is hosting this survey. Go to her blog to link to the responses by tons of bloggers.

White Cat (Curse Workers, #1)1. Best book of 2010? This is hard! Since there are so many great books I’m going to interpret this as: best YA book published in 2010 to narrow it down. Holly Black’s White Cat was pretty incredible. It has action, mystery and suspense, not to mention character depth and all around awesomeness. I’m picking this book because it’s not just something I loved myself, it’s one that I confidently recommended to my younger brother, my mother and my friends. It is very rare that I think a book would appeal to all of them but Holly Black’s writing will be appreciated by a variety of audiences.

Dateable Rules, The: A Guide to the Sexes2. Worst book of 2010? I’m not usually a book basher, but there was this really terrible book I picked up at work. Dateable Rules, The: A Guide to the Sexes was really awful. At first I thought it looked pretty cool, but um no on closer inspection it’s incredibly sexist and makes me angry. According to this book men need to “conquer” and be in power in the relationship, and women need to “learn to shut up”. The fact that I disagreed with the religious nonsense just added to my general dislike of the book.

linger cover art3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010?  I was most disappointed with Linger by Maggie Stiefvater. I loved Shiver so much that I over-anticipated the sequel. It’s not that it was terrible, it just didn’t live up to the hype in my mind. I’ll still read the next book in the series but my expectations have gone down a few notches.

Generation Dead (Generation Dead, #1)4. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010? I was most surprised by Generation Dead. I forced myself to read a zombie book (I’m quite squeamish) because I was TRYING to have a zombie night at the library for teens (no one showed up but that’s a different story). I was pleasantly surprised by Daniel Waters! His book is a beautiful social commentary about discrimination, and I found myself loving the zombies and their friends. The book I was dreading turned out to my one of my favourites, and I’ve been recommending it a lot.

5. Book you recommended to people most in 2010? I have a hard time answering this because I recommend things every day, at work, to friends, on the blog…I’be probably promoted Scaredy Squirrel the most but that’s not YA. My recommendations really depend on how I’m recommending it to.

The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset
6. Best series you discovered in 2010? The Hunger Games trilogy! I can’t believe I resisted reading it for so long. Everyone kept telling me to read it and I was like “kids killing each other? Ick!”  because I thought it was just violence for violence’s sake. Once I realized that Collins is critiquing violence, reality tv, and oppressive governments, I was all in. I love dystopia and social commentary. Plus there’s tons of suspenseful action, Katniss kicks butt and Peeta is a sweetie, how could you not love the series?

7. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010? Suzanne Collins, Daniel Waters, Gemma Malley, Kelley Armstrong, Holly Black, Kim Harrison, Simone Elkeles….

8. Most hilarious read of 2010?  The Feegles in The Wintersmith had me laughing pretty hard.

9. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010?  The Hunger Games trilogy. I read it in 4 days and it would have been less if I didn’t have to wait to get the next book.

10. Book you most anticipated in 2010? I think it was Linger but I mentioned earlier how that worked out.

11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010?


nightshade cover links to reviewRules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry, #2)Sisters Red cover art

12. Most memorable character in 2010?  I was most struck by Cassel from White Cat, Chloe from the Summoning and Haymitch from Hunger Games but so many more characters touched me this year

 13. Most beautifully written book in 2010? I love the Scottish and formal language of The Forest Laird. Laini Taylor’s Lips Touch Three Times was pretty poetic.

14. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010? Most books have a pretty big impact on me, I don’t think I can choose.

 
15. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read?  The Hunger GamesI’ve already explained why

 Book Blogging in 2010 (optional)

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2010? To be honest I just started really following any blogs in 2010. Jan 2010 my friend Erin opened my eyes to book blogs and I’ve been eating them up ever since. Some of my favourites are The Green Bean Teen Queen, Forever Young Adult, The Story Siren, Pure Imagination, and YA Bliss. I’ve also been reading Mark Reads  every day and he’s a good one to follow for a specific book but he has less variety.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2010?  I liked reviewing The Resistance, Generation Dead, and Sisters Red (I have a lot of trouble deciding)

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?  I wrote a post about why sometimes reading formulaic books is reassuring. I unfortunately haven’t had enough people commenting to work up a good discussion between people. It’s something I’d like to have next year.

 4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog? I really enjoy the discussions on the Forever Young Adult blog. They manage to be hilarious but bring up serious issues at the same time. For example their post about resolutions that makes some good points about changes I’d like to see in YA writing/publishing but is laugh out loud funny.

 

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? The Ontario Library Association Super Conference was amazing. It was my first conference and I was thrilled just to be on the expo floor getting autographed books, fighting stormtroopers and learning about new technology. That I got to go to informative sessions beyond that blew my mind. I can’t wait for more conferences.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2010? This is all really new to me and I’m pretty easily excited, so I have trouble picking a specific moment.

7. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? Um I’m gonna go with book trailers, I don’t think I knew about them in 2009 and they are a great way to promote books. I also love my new Kobo.

Kiss of Life

LOVED the book. Who knew zombie stories could be so awesome. Just like Generation Dead, Kiss of Life has powerful messages about race, acceptance, allowing yourself to be attracted to unconventional partners and standing up for your rights. I like that there are zombie extremists (like the gang Tommy writes about) in the book, because I think if Waters made every zombie lovable it would be unrealistic. In addition to all the larger societal issues the book deals with it is classic YA in that

  • It has characters like Margi trying to figure out what to do as a career
  • It talks about the various degrees of love, has Phoebe wondering what it is to love
  • It has a character get jealous when the man she dumped is able to move on before she has
  • It has rebels, bullies, punks, freaks and jocks that break up the highschool but those who cross the boundaries and are friends among multiple groups
  • It’s about figuring out what you believe in and how you can stand up for those beliefs, it’s about figuring out who you are

Really looking forward to reading more by Daniel Waters!

First Impressions of Kiss Of Life

(Spoiler alert if you haven’t read Generation Dead)

Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters is doing its job, because it has me outraged at the injustice! At the end of Generation Dead Pete commits murder and Kiss of Life starts with him getting away with it.

Here are the reason’s it’s completely unacceptable (in no order):

  • He was trying to shoot Phoebe (a living not zombie teen if that matters in their court)
  • There were multiple witnesses that she was a target including herself
  • He openly threatened Phoebe and Margi at school, and had a list of people to kill with Evan scratched off, which should at least start an investigation for Evan’s murder
  • The witnesses of him threatening Phoebe on multiple occasions should make his story of “trying to save her” obviously false
  • Even if he was shooting at Tommy like he claims, that would be unnecessary to “save” Phoebe and there was no evidence she needed saving except from Pete.
  • Shooting zombies should be a hate crime

Reasons why the book is awesome so far

  • It has the power to make me so mad
  • It shows how sometimes the government and the courts don’t protect minorities and let obvious repeat offenders (I can think of a few celebs) get away with things
  • Adam’s slow recovery is something that could inspire stroke or accident victims
  • Adam’s love not hate argument he can’t manage to speak yet is awesome

basically, love, love, love so far, but I just started it, yay for books keeping me entertained in waiting rooms.