*This review will contain spoilers!*
I bought 'Zomburbia' after receiving the sequel, 'Zombified' through NetGalley, because I absolutely love zombie books and I haven't read one in what feels like months. I hadn't heard of it before, so I didn't have my hopes raised too highly, but it seemed like it was going to be a book I would really enjoy.
'Zomburbia' is a bit different from other zombie books, in that it's set just over ten years after the zombie apocalypse has occurred, and life is still pretty much normal. Our main character, Courtney, works in a fast-food restaurant with her best friend, has a best guy friend who has madly crushed on her for most of their lives, and, like pretty much every teenager, dreams of leaving her home behind and moving somewhere better to go to college. However, unlike the majority of teenagers, Courtney decides to make money for her college fund by selling drugs - namely 'Vitamin Z', a drug made out of zombie brains.
So far, so interesting. I was completely gripped through the first half of the novel because it was so interesting to read a story where the zombie apocalypse is already so far along, instead of in the first couple of days where everything is new and unusual and disastrous. The development of the zombies was interesting, having some of them mutating to run instead of shuffle, and it was good that the development had taken so long, meaning that the population would have been lulled into a false sense of security by their consistently slow movements until this point. It was also nice to get the mixture of typical YA drama in with zombie fighting action, and neither of the two aspects really got boring, because they were very well mixed - Courtney deciding to ride her bike home in a strop and nearly getting attacked proved just how unlike our lives their's are, and Courtney going on her first date with Brandon and getting attacked by zombie struck the balance between the two stories extremely well. But they only seemed to be balanced during the first half of the novel.
I'm not really sure what went downhill, but the second half did not do as much for me as the first half did. I thought that Willie's death was quite surprising, and the idea that people could physically bring themselves to commit suicide by letting zombies attack them sent shivers up my spine, but Courtney's ensuing mourning/selfish wallowing grated on my nerves, because it was dragged out for so long. I understand that if one of your best friends has just killed himself, and it was practically your fault, that you would be distraught, but in a world where death is so intrinsically linked to your every day life I think you would have a way of dealing with it better than staying in bed for nearly a week.
Similarly, the death of Sherri wasn't too surprising, because of the premonition-like dreams that Courtney was experiencing, but Courtney's reaction surprised me. If she was so distraught and devastated by the death of a guy that she'd never loved back and had always looked down upon, surely she would be even more depressed and upset by the death of her best friend? It just didn't seem to make much sense to me that she didn't go through the same grieving process, or even seem to exhibit a visceral emotion, after she was practically to blame for the death of yet another friend.
I did think that the idea of 'Vitamin Z' was extremely unique and it was a big selling point of this story for me, until I realised why it seemed so familiar - the drug 'V' that is constantly used during 'True Blood' is a hallucinogenic using vampire blood, while 'Vitamin Z' is a hallucinogenic using zombie brains... It all just seemed a bit too similar for me to really sell into the story after I realised it.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate this book - Courtney's character had some redeeming aspects, such as her ability to be the only female in this entire world who seemed to be able to get stuff done, and the relationship between her and Brandon was kind of cute until she decided to dump him with little more than a second thought - but it wasn't the best zombie book I've ever read. This book finishes with a lot of questions about how the zombies are evolving, so it will be good to see if we get any answers about that in the second novel, and there's also the implication that Courtney and Phil could end up together, which could be funny because of how socially inept he seems to be. I'm hoping that I'll like the second one more, because it could be that the world was still finding its feet in the first book, so I'm going to be reading and reviewing that over the next couple of days. If you like zombies, I'd recommend 'The Walking Dead' novels over this series, but that might change with the second book.