The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever
Author: Jeff Strand
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication date: March 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Horror, Humor
*ARC provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Summary from Goodreads:
The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever is so bad, it could wake the dead…
After producing three horror films that went mostly ignored on YouTube, Justin and his film-making buddies decide it's time to make something epic. In fact, they're going to make The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever. They may not have money or a script, but they have passion. And, after a rash text message, they also have the beautiful Alicia Howtz as the lead.
Hemmed in by a one-month timeline and a cast of uncooperative extras, but aching to fulfill Alicia's dreams, Justin must face the sad, sad truth: he may, in actuality, be producing The Worst Zombie Movie Ever.
“The only comment anybody posted about his latest film had been, ‘This twelve-year-old filmmaker sort of shows promise,’ which really frustrated Justin because he was fifteen.”
Justin lives movies. If you know anything about ‘90s pop culture, than you know he’s a lot like Dawson Leery from the creek. Justin and his friends Gabe and Bobby have already made several horror movies (their favorite genre). They make a plan to make one more—the greatest zombie movie ever—in one month before Gabe leaves for the summer. This puts them under a tight deadline; morals, standards, and friendships may be compromised.
“What I’m saying is that we should be ahead of the curve. We should be making movies that people can’t believe were made by fifteen-year-olds. I want people to be stunned at what we’re making. I want people to accuse us of being genetically enhanced.”
A determination to make the greatest zombie movie quickly degrades into creating a final product with a “lack of embarrassment.” Justin won’t call quits for anything, not an infected eyebrow piercing, an interruptive party clown, a broken camera, a house fire, getting hit by a car, or watching his love interest smooch another guy.
Honestly, I kept thinking I was going to loose interest in this plot. Not a lot happens. Sure they run into a few speed bumps, but what kept me interested in this story was the writing. Jeff Strand is hilarious. This is probably the funniest YA book I’ve read all year. His fast dialogue and quick wit kept reminding me of the Gilmore Girls, if Lorelai and Rory had been fifteen-year-old boys. And then, I really did want to see if they’d finish their movie and how things would end. Strand’s good characterization and humor drove this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Would I let my teen read this book?
Besides the humor, there are several things I loved about this book that make it recommendable:
1. Good roll models
It’s always nice to read about teenagers with serious interests and drives (though Bobby mostly seems like part of the team by association and willingness to be the guinea pig). The boys may be pulling all-nighters, and Justin might miss a few tests, but it’s not without the realization that school is important, otherwise Justin will be making a “documentary about living in a cardboard box in an alley, scavenging half-eaten lizards for his dinner, and burning his hair to stay warm.”
2. Teens interacting with adults
Justin and his parents get along fine. His parents are encouraging, but also realistic about balancing his passions and responsibilities. I appreciated what felt like a respectful, loving relationship.
The boys interact with some unreasonable adults, who do not understand them and have no interest in understanding them, even though the boys are being respectful.
Justin learns his boss, who he doesn’t like, might have a different side to him.
Justin learns that adults are capable of being understanding and gracious, even when he’s done something wrong.
I loved these different perspectives; adults in young adult literature can often be one-sided or nonexistent.
Totally clean. There is little that would offend anyone in this book. They’re making a movie about zombies, but the one graphic scene is littered with humor and a character’s disgust of fake guts:
“Gnaw on it! Gnaw, Bobby! Gnaw!”
I recommend this book for everyone 12 and older, though some parents might deem it appropriate for their mature young readers.
Age recommendation: 12
Language – None
Drugs & Alcohol— None
Sex – Narrator witnesses a couple kissing
Violence – A boom is dropped on a character's infected eyebrow piercing; One scene with theatrical gore interlaced with silliness and humor
My Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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I read a lot. I'm a Mom. I'm officially in my 30s, but strangers often don't believe I'm old enough to drink. I love Young Adult fiction, and thought it was worthwhile to help teens and adults find age-appropriate options.