Review: Undead by Kirsty McKay

By Kirsty McKay
272 Pages
Published by Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: September 1, 2012 (expected)
Source: NetGalley

From Goodreads:

Out of sight, out of their minds: It’s a school-trip splatter fest and completely not cool when the other kids in her class go all braindead on new girl Bobby.

The day of the ski trip, when the bus comes to a stop at a roadside restaurant, everyone gets off and heads in for lunch. Everyone, that is, except Bobby, the new girl, who stays behind with rebel-without-a-clue Smitty.

Then hours pass. Snow piles up. Sun goes down. Bobby and Smitty start to flirt. Start to stress. Till finally they see the other kids stumbling back.

But they’ve changed. And not in a good way. Straight up, they’re zombies. So the wheels on the bus better go round and round freakin’ fast, because that’s the only thing keeping Bobby and Smitty from becoming their classmates’ next meal. It’s kill or be killed in these hunger games, heads are gonna roll, and homework is most definitely gonna be late.

Combining the chill of THE SHINING, the thrill ride of SPEED, the humor of SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and the angst of THE BREAKFAST CLUB, Kirsty McKay’s UNDEAD is a bloody mad mash-up, a school-trip splatter-fest, a funny, gory, frighteningly good debut!

I’ll be honest…this is one of those rare books that I’d read based on the cover alone. That thing just screams “fun & funny & possibly a little scary, too.”  It’s also one of those rare occasions that I like the US cover better than the UK cover. Combine an awesome cover with the fact that it’s about zombies and it takes place in SCOTLAND (I can’t remember the last time I read a book that took place in Scotland) and I nearly dislocated my finger clicking request on Netgalley.

I was not disappointed. This book is exactly as advertised: a fun, funny zombie comedy with a little bit of scary splatter thrown in. It’s definitely a horror/comedy. In some ways it reminded me of Shaun of the Dead in book form, which I now realize is actually part of the blurb but I came up with that comparison independently. I also see the comparison to The Breakfast Club and maybe even The Shining, though for the most part the “scary” parts of the book are more tense than scary. The comparison to Speed I do not get, mostly because this book wasn’t terrible and/or poorly acted. Granted there are tons of entries into the zombie genre these days, but this one is definitely worth seeking out. It’s hilarious and zombie filled and awesome. Have I mentioned that it’s funny?

Bobby & Smitty are excellent main characters. Both have tons of personality and are actually pretty smart, or at least make smart decisions in the face of danger. Or when they do stupid things they acknowledge it – at one point Bobby actually mentions that they’re doing things that get characters in horror movies killed, so that made it a whole lot more acceptable to me when they did things that were dumb. There are, of course, characters who are yins to their yangs – annoying, stupid, and petty – but even those characters are awesome in their own way. And I was surprised to find that story had a layer that I wasn’t expecting in terms of why the zombies were suddenly swarming all over the Cheery Chomper diner (so funny, that name).

So that I don’t just sit here and rave, it’s not a perfect book. The characters are a little stereotypical, but it works here. It actually adds to the story IMO, because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Another thing that some might have issues with is that the main character, Bobby, talks to the reader a la Ferris Bueller. Some may feel that this takes them out of the story. That wasn’t an issue for me, but it’s worth mentioning.

Confession: I read every bit of dialog in this book in a bad British accent.

4/5 Stars

Leave a comment


  1. Oh yay for smart main characters! I’m so glad this lived up to your expectations! I love that this book doesn’t take itself seriously and that it actually works.

  2. For some reason, I thought you’d already reviewed this book. It sounds awesome and I love that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Im glad it lived up to expectation. Great review!

  3. this cover is def bad ass, but you lost me with the book version of shaun of the dead. I did not like that movie at all. Those moments where it’s obvious your supposed to be laughing, but you aren’t, and then you dont feel as classy as the brits because you dont get their humor.

    *sigh* it was a very sad moment for me. lol great review though. ❤


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