Screens vs sunshine, Denika Mead
Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse
Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse by multi-award-winning New Zealand author, Lee Murray, is a story about a 12-year-old boy called Seb who downloads a game on the school network. This decision sets off a zombie apocalypse. The apocalypse spreads through Bridgetown, causing an insatiable need to stay in sight of a screen in those infected.
With the town glued to their phones, it’s up to Seb and his two friends, Darren and Talia, to figure out a way to reverse the effects of the apocalypse and save everyone. They have a planning session, trying to find a solution which is really enjoyable and funny: “’We could go to Greenland,’ I suggested. ‘Greenland?’ Talia and Darren said together.”
The story is full of references to things that many young teens will relate to, including NFL, gaming, and computer jargon: “it felt like scoring a winning goal in extra time.” There are references to books and movies like Hulk and Robinson Crusoe. “Without her password, even the Hulk would struggle to get through.” All of these references are relatable and add authenticity to the novel. Young teens who enjoy sports and gaming will be instantly hooked.
Readers will love the characters of Seb, Talia and Darren, who team up to overcome the effects of the apocalypse. The team of heroes are authentic: there are no superpowers, just three normal kids trying to find a way to reverse a zombie apocalypse. I related to the characters, particularly Talia. They were very realistic, weren’t perfect and had interesting personalities: “She was annoyed. I could tell. Probably because I was the one coming up with all the good ideas.” I really liked Seb’s little sister, Ava. She hates baths, loves chocolate and is very cute: “Ava grabbed his nose with her tomato sauce fingers. ‘Fank you, Daddy,’ she said.” When everyone is affected by the apocalypse, Seb has to look after her while also trying to save the world. This adds another level of difficulty to Seb’s mission.
Murray cleverly uses the book as a tool to comment on the current state of society and its obsession with phones and other electronic devices.
Editor's note: The story is full of positive messages, such as the value of not staying inside glued to your screen all day, and the power of being outside in the sunshine.
There is beautiful imagery throughout the novel: “Fire licked though its blackened carcass, dark smoke spooling into the air.” It paints a vivid picture in the reader’s mind, and adds to the danger Seb and his friends are facing.
Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse has a distinct humorous streak which suits the age group and I really enjoyed it. “She shook her head and made that tsk-tsk sound that old people make when they’re not happy about something.” A really fun inclusion at the end of the book is an extract from Seb’s notebook which acts as the glossary. The definitions of the words are funny, informal and conversational, making it an extension of the story: “dystopia: a world you wouldn’t want to live in.” There were surprising and interesting plot twists I didn’t see coming which kept me hooked all the way through. The ending left me hanging, letting my mind fill-in what might happen next.
Even though I didn’t feel that I was the target audience, I was still invested in the characters and really enjoyed the plot. I would recommend this book to young teen readers who are looking for a fun exciting adventure saving the world from a global apocalypse. Now go outside and stop looking at the screen, lest you become a zombie!
Denika Mead is 15 and from Wellington.