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Maybe it’s just residual holiday-cheer backlash, but lately I’ve been feeling pretty good about feeling grossed out, and these novels go there with relish. Cannibals? Check. Horny, mutant giant bugs? Check. Sadistic murderers? Check. Zombies? You bet! All with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that will leave you grimacing (but in a good way!).
Eat, Brains, Love. By Jeff Hart. 2013. 352p. HarperTeen, paper, $9.99 (9780062200341). Gr. 9–12.
One day Jake is a happy video-game-playing stoner struggling to complete his House of Mirth presentation for English class, and the next, he is an undead fugitive on the run from government agents bent on neutralizing the threat—him. It’s not all bad. At least he’s in the company of Amanda, one of the most popular girls in school, even if she’s also a zombie, and she, like Jake, ate a ton of their classmates when they first turned.
Grasshopper Jungle. By Andrew Smith. 2014. 432p. Dutton, $18.99 (9780525426035). Gr. 9–12.
Simmering within Ealing, Iowa, is a deadly, genetically engineered plague capable of unleashing unstoppable soldiers—six-foot-tall praying mantises with insatiable appetites for food and sex. No one knows it, of course, until Austin and his best friend, Robby, accidentally release it on the world. Smith delivers a gruesome sf treat, a likable punk of a narrator, and a sucker-punch ending that satisfyingly resolves everything and nothing in the same breath.
No One Else Can Have You. By Kathleen Hale. 2014. 288p. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062211194). Gr. 9–12.
Jeez, Louise! This here is a super-duper mystery, don’tcha know? Hale’s debut will be compared to the film Fargo, but that’s hardly a criticism. With a mix of icky brutality and stoic, deadpan humor, Hale welcomes readers to Friendship, Wisconsin, where homecoming queen Ruth has just been found dead in a cornfield, stuffed like a scarecrow. Cripes!
The Savages. By Matt Whyman. 2014. 288p. Overlook, $16.99 (9781468308563). Gr. 9–12.
Sixteen-year-old Sasha Savage dearly loves her tight-knit family but is hungry for a little independence. Her tasty new boyfriend, Jack, has just the answer—Why not try being a vegetarian? Seems easy enough, except shunning meat means Sasha has to give up a long-held, secret family tradition: dining on human flesh. The tension simmers right up to the gruesome climax, when Sasha finally asserts herself to her family and to her controlling, egotistical boyfriend—who truly gets his just desserts.
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