release date: September 7, 2010
hardcover, 276 pages
intended audience: Young adult
My son's rating:
Description from goodreads:
The First Rule of Torching: Cleanse with fire.
Josh is by far the best zombie Torcher around—at least, he is in his virtual-reality zombie-hunting game. Josh has quickly risen through the player ranks, relying on the skill, cunning, and agility of a real Torcher.
The Second Rule of Torching: Save all humans.
But luckily for Josh, zombies exist only in the virtual world. The real zombie war is now more than fifteen years in the past, and the battle to defeat the deadly epidemic that devastated his family—and millions of others—is the stuff of history lessons.
The Third Rule of Torching: You can't bring them back.
Charlie is the top-ranked player in the game. Since all the players are shrouded in anonymity, Josh never expects Charlie to be a girl—and he never expects the offer she makes him: to join the underground gaming league that takes the virtual-reality game off the screen and into the streets. Josh is thrilled. But the more involved he gets, the more he realizes that not everything is what it seems. Real blood is spilling, members of the team are disappearing, and the zombies in the game are acting strange. And then there's the matter of a mysterious drug called Z. . . .
Review: I did something alittle special with this one. When it first arrived in my mailbox, I took one look at the summary and knew exactly what to do: I handed it to my 16-year-old son. I planned to read it as well, of course, but I let him read it first. Why? It's a book about virtual reality games and zombies---this book had him written all over it. Plus, I thought it would be interesting to compare what I thought to what the opinion of someone that this type of book was actually geared toward. Here's what he had to say about it:
The book “Z” was a very enjoyable, intense story that made me scared, worried, and made me just about cry! The characters were funny, and had very believable personalities. My favorite was Charlie, the girl who recruited Josh into playing the game. She was a funny, witty, lovable, but still a kick-ass girl that in my opinion made the whole story better. The story itself was amazing, especially its epic ending.
Its worth mentioning also, that Zac is definitely what would be called a "reluctant reader". He is very picky about the things that catch his interest, but he loved this one!
I really enjoyed this one, and I have to admit I went in a little hesitantly because I am not much of a zombie person. The rotting, festering flesh, the wild, often gouged out eyeballs, the brain-eating, the moaning. Nope, not a big fan. The graphic descriptions that often come with zombie stories often just make my stomach roll. This, however, was a really good story. It takes place far into the future, after a real zombie virus has hit the world and been contained. The way the virus was explained was very in-depth---the author completely breaks down how and why something like this would have happened. I loved some of the world building, and the odd groups of people that came into play, especially the "Zooey" kids, who described as little happy little group of teens that dressed up like pandas, tigers, rabbits---it immediately made me think of the Tokyo Street Style. (Never heard of it? Look here or google "fruits tokyo street style".)
The characters were interesting, although not completely fleshed out as much as I would have liked. Tell me more about Charlie and Firecracker and Scrawl! I loved these characters and definitely wanted to know more. With these supporting characters, we got a few quick background details, just enough to feel for them, and that is all. The main character, Josh, was very believable. He starts out a little foolish and selfish when it comes to his obsession about the zombie games he plays. We get to see him make some very poor decisions, let things spin wildly out of control, and finally come to some very important realizations that help him grow as a person.
Z was a fast paced thrill ride, with lots of creepy action, a mysterious villian and zombies going up in flames! I recommend it to every teen out there who loves video games and Zs!
source: review copy provided by publisher