Thursday, September 30, 2010

Passing Strange - Daniel Waters

The Facts
Author: Daniel Waters
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 2010
Length: 400 pages

The Fiction
From the Publisher: Karen DeSonne always passed as a normal teenager - and now that she's dead, she's still passing - this time, as alive. But when her dead friends are accused of a high profile murder and forced into hiding, it's up to Karen to prove their innocence. Which means doing the unthinkable and becoming the girlfriend of bionist zealot Pete Martinsburg, who she suspects of framing them. But if Pete finds out who Karen really is, the consequences for her will be worse than death ...

So remember I was really excited about the release of Passing Strange? Really excited? So excited that I even pre-ordered the UK paperback edition (so it matches my other copies), which I never usually do. Anyway, I've been really enjoying Daniel Waters' series, and was really excited as this novel concentrates on my favourite character (and let's be honest, the most interesting female in the series) Karen DeSonne.

Passing Strange picks up from Kiss of Life. Differently biotic students have been banned from attending school and are basically on the edge of being sent back to their graves due to a strong anti-zombie movement (lead by the Reverend Mathers, the One Life Ministry and their new posterboy, Pete Martinsburg). Whilst Tak and the Sons of Romero are forced into hiding, Tommy is taking on Washington and Karen, never one for subtly, is hiding in plain sight – by working at the Oakvale Mall and ‘passing’ as a human girl. Whilst posing as ‘Christie’, Karen starts going out with Pete in an attempt to try and uncover information about the Ministry and anti-zombie activities.

Passing Strange is basically split between Karen and Pete’s perspectives A lot of my favourite moments were finding out about Karen’s past and her home life – the way she interacts with her family is both sad and lovely. Her relationship with her family, it seems, is one of the biggest reasons she is such a ‘developed’ zombie, and a really interesting message within the series – it’s the living impaired kids who have a support system and are loved, are the ones who have an easier time adapting to their new life. I was thrilled to finally hear more of Karen’s back story, especially having gained so many teasers in the first two novels.

Pete's storyline actually reminded me a lot of Jason Stackhouse and Fellowship of the Sun (the plot from True Blood, which plays out differently than in the Charlaine Harris novels). What I love about this series is that even the antagonists are given a detailed history, are well-developed and Waters manages to we are able to be sympathetic towards them. Once again, the Sons of Romero (the underground/rebel zombies) were a highlight. I’ve grown to really like Tak, and feel like Karen brings out a sense of humanity (a sign of life haha) in him.

Passing Strange is low on a lot of main characters (minimal Phoebe/Adam/Margi which surprised me), basically no Tommy (I actually missed his emails and blog entries – and I was sure he would play a bigger role as the trads/zombs tension came to a head) and no Thorny (c’mon, I can’t be the only Thorny fan!). On the plus side, I felt like the plot was more focused, the themes stronger and the point of view didn’t constantly change (as it did in the first two novels), allowing a much better character insight.

Now I was under the impression that Waters was writing a trilogy, but from the way Passing Strange ends, I feel like there has to be more to come! I feel like there is still so much that's been left open and unexplored. For fans of the series, I think you’ll really enjoy this next instalment, which in my opinion, stands apart from other paranormal YA titles.
Feel free to check out my reviews of Generation Dead and Kiss of Life


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