Wednesday, 29 July 2015


Zombiefied written by C M Gray (HarperCollins)                                                             PBK $14.99 ISBN 9780733334214
Reviewed by Sharon McGuinness

Benjamin Roy is an 11 year old with a passion for zombies – movies, video games and zombie comics take up most of his leisure time. Together with his best friend and sidekick Sophie, they spend many afternoons after school doing their own brand of ‘homework’, immersed in their zombie games and movies.

After Ben is knocked down by the school bully Tank, he escapes to the boys toilets to wash his scraped knee, things take on a mysterious turn however, when Ben stumbles on a secret doorway at the back of the toilets. Just when he is about to investigate, one of the teachers Mr Slender, startles Ben from behind and he falls down for the second time that morning, grasping a wooden shelf in an attempt to save himself. Not only does the secret doorway then disappear, but he is given an afternoon detention for his trouble.

Ben confides in his friend Sophie and together they try to find the secret doorway, but are unsuccessful. Later when he is again at her house Sophie’s dad, a writer, overhears them talking and calls Ben to the kitchen where he tells Ben he has known about the secret doorway, warning him not to investigate further. Was Sophie’s dad spying on them? Ben’s suspicion is aroused and as he leaves for his house, he can’t help but look inside the bus that Mr Knight used as a study to write. Slipping in via the back window, Ben is intrigued to find corkboards lining the walls with notes and pictures of zombies. Surprised to learn that Mr Knight was interested in zombies, Ben is astonished to see a plan of the school. He could even see the staircase which led to the hidden room. It had been marked with a red cross!

Now Ben is undeterred to find out more about the secret doorway and hidden room, which had obviously been an interest of Mr Knight. Maybe he was intending to write a book about it, but Ben was determined to find out.

Ben does investigate again, joined by Sophie and is successful in locating the secret to the hidden doorway. It leads to rooms filled with cages of rats, another with dogs and the last for ‘Homo Sapiens’. One cage is even labelled ‘Benjamin Roy’.
Ben and Sophie are horrified to learn that mild mannered teacher Mr Crumpet is responsible and has an evil plan. Corvus, Mr Crumpet’s raven attacks Ben, digging his talons into his skin and begins pecking at his neck. Ben is forever changed – he now craves to eat meat.

Here, the story becomes a little gruesome, with Mr Crumpet encouraging Ben to kill his friend Sophie and eat her. Then the dogs are let loose and turn on Mr Crumpet, devouring him.

Ben saves Sophie and they escape to the waiting arms of their parents, yet Ben has changed. Suddenly everything flashes blue and he seems to have the power to look inside people’s bodies. Corvus, the raven follows Ben and his parents home where Ben is greeted by his brother Michael, who tells Ben he thought his brother was lost forever. ‘No such luck,’ Ben replies. ‘I plan on being around forever’.

This story contains simple illustrations and larger print – giving the impression it has been written for younger readers. As the story reaches its climax with Mr Crumpet urging Ben to kill, however, it takes a more sinister turn, before ending on a lighter note with Ben’s acceptance of himself as a zombie.

It is obviously the first in a series devoted to Ben’s zombie adventures and I believe children aged nine and above would enjoy reading it – hopefully without any nightmares!

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