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Zombies Vs the Illuminati - Book Review

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by May Cross (subscribe)
I'm a writer, artist and keen photographer.
Published January 6th 2022
A romping Zombie novel
Almost everyone knows that toilet paper offers little protection against COVID-19. It seems it has the same effect against the Zombie Apocalypse. I love post-apocalyptic stories and especially Rom-Com Zom movies, so I was hooked immediately on this book. I'd call it a worthy entry in the Zom Com genre (sorry, very little Rom - it's for kids after all).

Zombies Vs the Illuminati by John Larkin is about a teenage girl named Phoebe Hyphen Rose and a posse of three 12-year-old boys who join forces to defeat the marauding zombie hordes and save the world. Their weapons of choice include a lightsabre (but no batteries), a sack full of doorknobs and a non-existent winged horse. This is a funny and engaging thriller. It's a fine mixture of horror and humour (think Shaun of the Dead for kids) and is suitable for pupils in Years 3 to 6. I think that young avid readers and reluctant ones will all enjoy it.

Action takes place in a fictitious, misnamed town called Serenity and occurs on a garbage night. I related to the argument of whose turn it was to put out the garbage as I have had the same conversation many times with my younger brother. The main character, who is an "argumentative little so-and-so", is either a genius or just an attention-seeking Muppet. I was reminded of Monty Python's argument sketch.

Although our intrepid troupe don't have guns (they are only kids after all) to fight the zombie apocalypse, they do have a rather odd assortment of other implements like a whipper-snipper (which is not a cordless one; it's electric but they don't have an extension cord) , a mythical flying horse, a lightless sabre, and, surprisingly, a bag of doorknobs. This is from one of the boy's dad who is a doorknob salesman thingy. (So is my friend Eduardo who calls himself a "door furniture expert". I have told him that it's easy to be an expert on a subject that no one else has any interest in.) But I digress.

There is frequent amusing wordplay in the book. As well as puns, irony, similes (for example, "like a frog on a barbeque") and interesting grammar, the author even has some fun with punctuation such as capitals for proper nouns. I laughed at the characters' names such as Leonardo dog Vinci, Nickel-ass Bum Garden or Knickerless Bottomlawn or something. The Colin Sanders snippet was "finger-lickin' good". Some of the language and references are gross so are bound to appeal to young readers. Scatological jokes abound and other revolting things which the kids will love. There is some karate action in the book. Kids who love martial arts may also enjoy another Ford Street Publishing (Aussie) novel for 9 to 13-year-olds: James Gong The Big Hit by Paul Collins. You can read my review of James Gong.

james gong, may cross

Some of the vocabulary could pose a problem for younger readers. Words and concepts such as The Illuminati, Armageddon, phoenix, and Pegasus may need explanation but I'm all for books that extend kids' vocab and knowledge.

larkin, zombies, book

About the Author
John Larkin is a multi-award-winning author. His awards include the Queensland Literary Award and the Victorian Premier's Literary Award; and his book The Pause was shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year Award for Older Readers. John is the writer-in-residence at the Gold Coast's All Saints Grammar School, University of Technology Sydney and Knox Grammar School. Other books by John Larkin are Spaghetti Legs, The Shadow Girl, and The Pause.
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Why? Who doesn't secretly enjoy Zombies?
When: released 2021
Phone: 03 9416 4062
Where: book stores and on line
Cost: $17.95
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