Monday, December 23, 2013

Winter Special: The Snow is Turning Red This Winter!!!! Reviewing: Undead & Unfed

Hello and welcome to my first ever Winter Special here at The Real World According To Sam!!! Today I've got a double feature. The first book, is the debut novel of an author. The second is for the sequel. Based on preference, you can read both, but be forewarned that reading the second review may give away some parts of the first book. I wipe my hands of any distraught you may cause yourself by reading more than you want to. There will be a division between the two and a between space, from there on out, you just gotta scroll down to the very bottom for concluding remarks and skip over Review #2 if you wish.

Let's get started!!!!


Undead
Author: Kirsty McKay
Genre: YA Paranormal
Year of Publication: 2012




There is a major zombie craze that's been occurring over the past 5 or so years now. It's still going pretty strong with shows such as The Walking Dead or movies like World War Z (I've seen neither of those by the way). I've read my share of zombie books, not a whole bunch, but an okay amount. Let it be known that I'm not a huge fan of zombies, but occasionally I do enjoy a horrifying thrill or 3. 



Obviously, since I've brought up zombies, this book has something to do with that topic doesn't it? Indeed it does.

I won Undead through a contest on Facebook hosted by This Is Teen. The deal was this: write a caption for the cover of the book, you get prizes if you're picked. My caption ("This winter, the snow is turning red.") was a runner up, so I was sent a free copy of Undead. I was incredibly excited and had to put it off to read library books. However, I thought now was as good a time to read it as any, since I have down time from college and the winter chill has come. So here we are!!! I was also tipped off by a friend that there was going to be a sequel. I waited so I could just tackle both if I chose to. 

So what is Undead even about??
Undead is the story of Roberta and 3 of her classmates from school: Alice, Pete, and Smitty. Things take a turn for the worse when their bus stops in a small town on their way back from a school ski trip. Everyone but Roberta and Smitty get off the bus. Next thing you know, pretty much everyone is dead. Or are they? Alice, Pete, Smitty, and Roberta aren't really friends, but they come closer together in their own way in order to survive. Their classmates and teachers, among others, are coming back from the dead, and they're VERY hungry. There are secrets that will be unveiled and lots of zombie mayhem on the long road ahead. 

Characters
There are a few characters in this book, but Smitty, Roberta, Alice, and Pete are the main ones. They are the characters that we see most of and get to know best. They're well developed, but there's still a lot we don't know. Aside from Bobby (Roberta), you don't know much about the others' families. The thing I like best about this group of heroes and heroines, is the face that they're all so dissimilar. Bobby is a down to earth girl who has lost her father and might have some issues with her mother. Alice is the girl who always looks amazing and is so stuck up that she would love to stay away from anyone who could damage her reputation unless she has no choice whatsoever. She always has nasty remarks at the ready, gaining her the nickname of Malice, as dubbed by Smitty. Pete is the geek. He knows navigation and random skills that come in handy. However, he is socially challenged. Smitty is the typical bad boy. To me, he's like the John Bender  (Breakfast Club character) of contemporary teen zombie adventures. He has a devil-may-care attitude and a witty retort for everything. He isn't afraid to take charge, but his pride can get in the way sometimes. Overall, I really like these characters and I REALLY want to read more involving them. I'm so attached. I read this book in two days and I'm ridiculously hooked. 

Plot
To be honest, this is your typical zombie book. Group stops, people turn into zombies, hell breaks loose, group must find a way to survive and see if there's anyway to stop the zombies from doing anymore harm. There's a lot of suspense and the characters really help to constantly keep the pace moving quick. I like the general premise, but the real charm is in the execution. At the core, most zombie stories are generally the same, so any stories from here on out really have to have something more, or just good writing. 

Setting
I actually really loved the setting of the book. It's desolate and exotic at the same time. The characters are from England and they were skiing in Scotland. Scotland is where they get stuck. They're in a small, isolated town, its wintertime, there's ice and snow and there is a castle. All of these things make the book really fun to read. I loved the settings. The details are good enough to paint the scenes, but not too many to be tiresome and drag the story to a crawl. Major props to Mrs. McKay for a well done job in this category.

Overall
I really liked this book. I got hooked instantly. This I credit to the excellent chemistry between all the characters. They just fit together well and mesh in a great way. Smitty is such a puzzle to me sometimes. At first, you can't really tell what he's after, or which girl. Yes, there is a dash of romance tossed into the mix. Yes, I absolutely love it. Honestly, I almost wanted more of that added in. I was eating it up like crazy!!! That's the part I wanted most of. I also liked all the supporting characters. From Lily and Cam to Grace, Michael, and Shaq...and Bobby's mom when she decided to pop up. This book is fun and thrilling. I was super excited to read book 2 after this because McKay decided to leave a cliffhanger of sorts that I'm never fond of. It's good for suspense, but it annoys the heck out of me because I want what comes next almost immediately.  For zombie mayhem, romantic moments, and ever pushing adventure, I give Undead a 4 out of 5.

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Okay, once more, if you do NOT want to know anything about book 2 and what happens, DO NOT read on from here. Just skip all the way down to finish the review and comment, or just leave now. You can always come back to read the second one after you finish the first or both books. 





TIME IS UP!!! BEGINNING BOOK 2 REVIEW
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Unfed
Author: Kirsty McKay
Genre: YA Paranormal
Year of Publication: 2013


Unfed is the killer sequel to UNDEAD. I'm not even kidding, that's what it says directly on the cover, see for yourself!! My dad liked calling this one "my blood book" and when I mentioned that it was because there were zombies everywhere, he said it looked more like a slasher movie type of book full of people killing. But seriously, it's just a bunch of zombie mayhem. I'm not super into bloody stuff, but this was a pretty fun book and to be honest I found the cover and blood smatters of the first couple pages intriguing. Unfed is just as much of a roller coaster as Undead was. There are still zombies everywhere and we still have pretty much all the same characters that we became attached to in Book 1. Where's Smitty? Well, within a chapter or two, we discover that the bus from book 1 had an accident and only 4 people survived. But rest assured everyone!!! Smitty isn't dead. I don't know if that counts as a spoiler, because if Smitty was dead, I wouldn't have even have liked this book as much. Based on other reviews I've read, others wouldn't have either, or at least wouldn't be as pleased with the book. We all just love Smitty and Bobby's chemistry that much. 


Basically, Bobby and the other 3 I mentioned before are in a hospital and soon enough, all zombie mayhem breaks out yet again. All of Scotland is under quarantine and our heroes must find a way to reach safety based on clues left by Bobby's mom who we are told didn't survive the bus incident by Martha, an employee at the hospital. That's basically the long and short of the book. Bobby has to find Smitty and try to get to freedom safely, escaping zombies all along the way. 

The characters are still oodles of fun to read about. Russ wasn't bad overall. I'd say he was pretty well developed. To me, he was rather predictable though. I saw what was coming long before it happened. However, I don't know whether that's just good insight on my part or if that was a blatant ploy by McKay. I would've liked that to have been played a bit differently. Much more subtle overall so I'm not guessing correctly before half the book is even over. I guess having gone on the adventure with Smitty, Pete, Alice and Bobby just makes me even more suspicious of things. 

The setting is still pretty neat. It was fun to see everyone running from place to place trying to escape zombies and helicopters. All of the scenes were well written. I could easily picture everything that was happening and where. That's been a consistent positive with both books. 

I also like all the twists and turns, but I believe that if McKay is going to keep doing things like that, she needs to get these books done quicker. There is definitely going to be a book 3, because there was no real closure as to what happens with Xanthro or anything. However, there is no set release date and upon checking McKay's Facebook page, there's nothing about a third book. She's working on something else. While its commendable that she's still writing, I'm sure she already has a steady fan following for these books and THIS is what we want to keep seeing for now. Until I get closure, I'm not gonna stop wanting her to write up book 3 already, or however many it takes to finally get some answers. Also, at one point she introduced a zombie cow and goat, but never took this to its utmost potential!! What if Bobby had run into a zombie bear?? What would she do then? How about running into a zombie dog when they ran into that one town? That would've been super interesting! I say, don't introduce zombie animals unless you're actually gonna use them to their full potential, otherwise its a tool that wasn't wisely used in my opinion. 


Overall, Unfed was a really fun book. Sure, Smitty was gone for half of it and I wanted to smack him several times when he was there, but in the end, he's still good ole Smitty. I think half the fun was in trying to find him! The book is still quick paced and I'm definitely looking forward to more. I just wish that McKay would've used her ideas to their full potential and work a bit more on her twists because they were a bit obvious. While it can work, I'm not sure that it did all it could. I wasn't even that shocked. I had more of a "Hah!!!! I knew it!!!!!" kind of moment. 

I give Unfed a 3 out of 5. It was good, but it didn't live up to its predecessor. Its still a lot of fun and full of zombie mayhem, but I needed more from it and it needed better execution as a whole. I'll still be waiting anxiously for a third book though. 

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This concludes my review of Undead and Unfed. Happy Holidays everyone!!!! 
Thanks for reading!! Come back soon for another review here at The Real World According To Sam.  There are lots more reviews for you all that will be coming up real soon. Join us again for another fun year as we enter 2014!!!! 


*What's the best zombie book or movie you've read or seen? Let me know down in the comments!!! Leave recommendations, ask me to discuss things you're interested in, let me know what you think of my blog*



 

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