Karen DeSonne passed as a normal, happy teenager when she was alive. In actuality, she was suffering from depression and ended up committing suicide. After she reanimated and became differently biotic, she is still passing, but this time, as a regular living, breathing teenager. She works at a store in the mall and no one suspects that she is anything but normal. The reason why she is passing is because of all the anti-zombie regulations passed in Oakvale making it illegal for zombies to be in public without a parent or guardian. They aren’t considered citizens or even people under the law and it’s completely legal to reterminate them on sight. This legislation was passed because some of her friends who are also zombies were framed for a murder, causing everyone to assume that all the differently biotic are violent and dangerous. As she passes as human, Karen is approached by Pete Martinsburg, the boy who killed Adam Layman and got away with it, and pretends to date him to uncover the plot to frame the zombies for a murder that may have not even been committed. After a while, Pete starts to trust her and reveals that he wants to kill Phoebe and frame Adam to create more and more fear and hatred towards zombies. Can Karen keep her cover and gather enough proof to allow the zombies to live freely or will she be caught and reterminated?
I have read all of the Generation Dead series and I have to say that this is the best in the series so far. The first two mostly focused on Phoebe Kendall and her relationship with two differently biotic boys. Now we get to see what it’s like on the other side, from the point of view of the zombies. Karen was my favorite of the minor zombie characters in the last books and I’m so glad that there’s a whole book almost exclusively in her point of view. Karen is an undeniably unique and compelling character, being the only zombie known to come back after suicide and have the ability to heal. Her motivations and thought processes are equally as compelling as her physical abilities. When she died, she killed herself out of depression that still plagues her in her present condition. It stems from denying a part of herself that I won’t divulge, but it was definitely a surprise. She’s also not afraid to take risks and put herself in harm’s way to help the people she loves. She dates Pete Martinsburg, a truly unhinged individual with a hatred for the differently biotic, in order to gather enough evidence to prove her friends’ innocence. At the beginning of the book, I felt that she was wary to reveal too much information about herself, but warmed and revealed more and more about herself along the way. I grew to like Karen more and more through her honest, unfiltered narrative.
Although this is a novel that focuses on love and typical young adult themes, it also deals with the very real issue of human rights and the way people treat those not protected under the law. These zombies could be murdered in the street and nothing could be done about it. It reminds me of the way women were treated in Ancient Greece: as property and not as people. The main message of the novel is that everyone, no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, or beliefs, is entitled to the same human rights. It’s mind boggling that this message needs to be reinforced in our modern society, but there are still those who want to take rights away from people that have a different lifestyles or belief systems.
I really enjoyed Passing Strange. Karen’s transformation from a cryptic, mysterious girl to a free and honest one made her an engaging and realistic character to read. I love that this book deals with real issues that people of all ages are effected by. I would recommend this to fans of the rest of the Generation Dead series and to those looking for a great, insightful, well written young adult novel.
My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins
**This post is for Velvet's September Zombies.**