Simon and Schuster (2009)
ISBN: 978 1 84738 397 6
Reviewed by Tehani Wessely
Interestingly not marketed as the second in a series, thinking it is a standalone novel makes Kiss of Life a little difficult to get into at first. The reader is thrown into a world and cast of characters without any real introduction, and this makes for confusing reading for the first part of the book, until the narrative smoothes out and the characters and past history becomes a little clearer.
Phoebe is alive – traditionally biotic, as it has become known – but most of her best friends are, well, dead. Differently biotic, living impaired, zombies. There doesn’t seem to be an explanation as to why some teenagers are returning to a semblance of life, but they are, and “traditionally biotic” people are learning to deal with it. Some of them, at least. Others would do anything to wipe out the zombie menace, and some of Phoebe’s friends are standing in the way.
I’m not a huge fan of the zombie paranormals – zombies are just a bit too dead for “undead”, and it’s kind of icky to read about them as being in a relationship with a living girl. However, Waters has produced a book that while not really offering a plausible zombie scenario (there’s no explanation given at this point in the series as to why the dead come back), still provides an interesting and detailed story with unusual and well-drawn characters.
My biggest problem with the novel was in the pages of zombie dialogue, with extraordinary use of ellipsis to indicate slowness of speech, making it very difficult to read. It wasn’t too overwhelming in small doses, but there were at times pages of inter-zombie dialogue, which become extremely challenging to follow.
It’s a small complaint though, and overall, Kiss of Life — particularly the UK edition I received, with its Twilight-esque cover artwork — is a solid addition to the genre. Recommend buying the first of the series, Generation Dead, as well, for a better reading experience.