PLAY DEAD by Ryan Brown is NOT a YA novel. However, that being said, it definitely could be. The only thing that would keep this off of my middle school shelf would be the language. Other than that, this would be the perfect book for the boys in my school. It is filled with football rivalry and gory zombie scenes.
PLAY DEAD is the story of high school football rivalry gone terribly wrong. The Killington Jackrabbits are one game away from winning the District Championship. If they win, it will be the first time ever. In fact, this is the first winning season they have ever had. Their rivals, the Elmwood Heights Badgers aren’t going to take any chances. They’ll do anything to prevent the Jackrabbits from getting their spot in the championship game. The Badgers set up an elaborate prank to stop the Jackrabbits from making it to their game and forcing a forfeit. The prank goes bad and the entire team (except for 1 player and the head coach) are killed.
A die-hard fan, with the use of some dark magic, sets out to make things right. The attempt to raise the dead players from their watery grave doesn’t work exactly the way she planned though. It turns out the players are only going to be able to walk the earth as zombies. To make matters worse, if they don’t beat the Badgers on the field within a certain time period, the players will be forced to remain on the earth as the walking-dead with no hope for salvation.
It is up to Cole, the team’s star QB, and Savannah, the head-coach’s daughter, to make sure the game gets played.
The author does a great job incorporating humor along with the bloody gore of the zombies. He even manages to embed an important message about athlete steroid use.
I am not a huge sports fan and the fact that this book isn’t littered with football jargon and plays makes it perfect for someone, like me, who just picks it up for the zombie aspect of the story. PLAY DEAD is a winner!!!
‘R’ is a zombie. He has no name, no memories and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.
Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows – warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can’t understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.
This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won’t be changed without a fight…
For other great YA Crossover books check out the ALA Alex Awards.
Here are the 2015 Winners:
- All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, published by Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. (9781476746586). A blind Parisian girl and an orphaned German boy conscripted by the Nazis for his radio skills meet in the chaos of the American bombing of a French coastal resort.
- Bellweather Rhapsody, by Kate Racculia, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company (9780544129917). High-school students gather at the isolated Bellweather Hotel for a statewide music festival only to be trapped by a blizzard with an arrogant fingerless conductor, drunken chaperones, a missing corpse, and perhaps the ghosts of long-dead newlyweds.
- Bingo’s Run, by James A. Levine, published by Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company (9781400068838). The ultimate hustler, Bingo uses his brains and charm to run drugs in a Kenyan slum, but after witnessing a murder he finds himself an art dealer, an adoptee, and someone caught in a dangerous moral dilemma.
- Confessions, by Kanae Minato, translated by Stephen Snyder, published by Mulholland Books, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (9780316200929). Japanese teacher Yuko knows two middle-school students killed her daughter, and nothing in their explanations of why and how will stop her revenge.
- Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng, published by The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group LLC, a Penguin Random House Company (9781594205712). Lydia is dead. Is it murder? Suicide? As her family grieves for their perfect teen, they learn how little they really knew Lydia and how many secrets died with her.
- Lock In, by John Scalzi, a Tor Book published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC (9780765375865). A virus leaves millions as “Hadens”—locked in and fully aware, but unable to move or speak except when linked to androids. Chris is one of them, working as a rookie FBI agent hunting a murderer who is targeting Hadens.
- The Martian, by Andy Weir, published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company (9780804139021). Marooned on Mars after a tragic accident, astronaut Mark Watney’s supplies are running low and he has no way to signal Earth. Fortunately Mark can grow space potatoes and has a bold plan to escape the Red Planet.
- The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice, by Zak Ebrahim with Jeff Giles, published by TED Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. (9781476784809). This true account of Zak Ebrahim, whose father was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, is a powerful book about tolerance and choice.
- Those Who Wish Me Dead, by Michael Koryta, published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (9780316122559). On the day Jace conquers the highest jump of the quarry, he discovers a murder victim and begins to run for his life.
- Wolf in White Van, by John Darnielle, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (9780374292089). After his face is destroyed, Sean manages to carve out a life for himself as a designer of virtual role-playing games. When two teens take the game too far, Sean is forced to relive all his moves.
Author: Karin Perry
Assistant Professor of Library Science at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX. She loves reading YA Lit in her spare time.