Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Title: Dead Jed: Adventures of a Middle School Zombie
Author: Scott Craven
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC
Publication Date: December 1, 2013
Genres: MG, Adventure, Humor
Reviewed by: Books4Tomorrow
Source: Received from Tour Host for review
My rating: 5/5
Tour Host: Chapter by Chapter


Dead Jed is Shaun of the Dead meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Jed's not your typical junior high geek. He is, to use the politically-correct term, cardiovascularly-challenged. And while his parents have attempted to shield him from the implications of being 'different' for as long as they could (Jed was 8 and at a friend's sister's birthday party when he blew his lips off onto the cake in front of everyone, finally prompting the “Big Talk” from his parents and an emergency SuperGlue repair by his dad), 7th grade at Pine Hollow Middle School as a target of Robbie the supreme school bully and his pack of moronic toadies is rapidly becoming unbearable.
From being stuffed in a filled trash can as “dead meat” and into a trophy case as the bully's “prize,” to literally having his hand pulled off in the boys' room (Jed's always losing body parts. Luckily, a good stapler and some duct tape and he's back in the action) and a cigarette put in it and try to frame him for the recent reports of smoking in the school, Jed's had enough and is ready to plan his revenge. Besides, it's awesome what you can do when you're already dead!


The minute I saw the cover and read the synopsis for this book, I knew it was going to be awesome! Just saying it was awesome feels like an understatement. It was way better than just awesome. Dead Jed was fun, hilarious, charming, evocative and impossible to put down! I devoured it in less than two days, and now I can’t wait for the sequel. I even went back and reread a couple of chapters and passages to make sure I didn’t miss a thing. But the best part in all this was that my fourteen-year-old son enjoyed this book as much as I did. I read my ARC copy out loud to him and we roared with laughter at the exact same time every time something side-splitting happened in the story. Trust me when I say there are tons of highly amusing moments in this gem of a MG novel. Never before have I read anything like it. After finishing the book, my son told me that Dead Jed ranks right up there with his favorite series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, of which he has read every book in the series thus far. Oh and, if you’ve watched Shaun of the Dead (and enjoyed it as much as I have) you’ll quickly get the spot-on comparison between this book and that movie.

One of my absolute favorite lines in this book (and which I’m guessing will become a favorite of many readers) was when Jed very calmly replied: “I’m brain dead, not stupid.” You just can’t miss the humor in that...coming from a zombie...or should I say the “cardiovascularly challenged”? And speaking of zombie, I have to say that Jed is a phenomenal character. He’s completely lovable. In my opinion what makes him such a memorable character is his intelligence, his endurance, and his razor-sharp wit. For a dead guy, Jed rocks! I will never look at the living dead the same way again. Jed is the essence of the unlikely hero. He is not the only fully developed character, though. His parents (two of the coolest adults ever!), his best friend, Luke, and his almost-girlfriend, Anna, are all extraordinary characters in their own right, and each one of them adds something heartfelt and sincere to this novel.

Robbie the bully, as unlikeable as he is, balanced Jed out perfectly as Jed’s weaknesses and strengths plays off against Robbie’s merciless taunting and harassment. I appreciated that the author spent as much time developing Robbie’s character as he did the rest of the characters, because Robbie obviously plays a pivotal role in the development of the story. Also, I love when the villain isn’t a caricature of every typical evil mastermind featured in popular movies, books and tv programs. I loved that Robbie’s actions were unpredictable, but yet stayed true to the familiar actions of bullies everywhere. In his own way, Robbie is also a stand-out character, and besides, he isn’t done with “Zomboy” yet.

Apart from phenomenal characters, Dead Jed is a story with depth, and includes many life lessons and truths young and old will be able to identify with. The issue of bullying is definitely the running theme here, but I appreciated that the author didn’t tiptoe around it or glorify it any way. Jed, being a zombie and all, is clearly different in countless ways from every other kid at school which makes him the ultimate target for bullies and those who aren’t classified as bullies, but who are less tolerant of a class mate they judge based on appearance. Simultaneously it showcases that intolerance has no age restriction and how adults are also guilty of this, even if more so between the lines. The most heartfelt moments for me were how his parents dealt with their son being different and how they encouraged him to use his differences to his advantage. As many times as I rolled with laughter throughout this book, there were just as many times I had to wipe away a tear or wanted to hug Jed and praise him for embracing his individuality. The author did an outstanding job with not allowing Jed’s parents to coddle him, but still remain sympathetic to his feelings. I felt that zombie was used as a metaphor for being different whether it is by race, culture, religion, social standing or anything that makes a person stand out from the rest. It subtly, but clearly, highlighted how ignorant, stereotypical and narrow-minded people of all ages can be. I also loved how insightfully each group in the middle school hierarchy was described and where Jed fit into all of that. 

Other elements I enjoyed were the frequent references and comparisons to popular zombie movies, tv shows and paraphernalia; and one of my many favorite scenes included the one at the school dance with Michael Jackson’s song Thriller.

For a MG novel the romance between Jed and Anna is rather noteworthy. Not only is it sweet and makes you go “awwww”, it also has substance to it. I’ve read YA novels where the romance wasn’t nearly as touching as the first-love between these two seventh graders.

The ending also had a nice twist I never saw coming.

So, what more does this book offer? Well, there are the clever puns and the narrative perfectly suited for younger readers, but at the same time it won’t make older readers feel like they’re reading a children’s book. Right after the acknowledgements you’ll find a preview of the first chapter of book two. It also includes a fun zombie quiz titled, You Don’t Know Dead! For awesome zombie games, quizzes, facts, and questions, you can visit the author’s website right here.

I’m entirely convinced this series is going to be as big and popular as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, if not more. It might be aimed at middle grade readers, but I will highly and happily recommend it to readers aged 9 to 99! As soon as this book is available in print, I’m getting a copy. This is undoubtedly a book I want displayed on my son’s bookshelf because I haven’t been this excited about a children’s series since Harry Potter - though these two can’t be compared as both are vastly different and in a league of its own. Dead Jed shines in its uniqueness and I, for one, am excitedly looking forward to the rest of this series which can be enjoyed by boys and girls!



Proud graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, have one son who will turn 18 in March 2013, now a features writer for The Arizona Republic.


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1 comment:

Unknown said...

mine son would love this boo