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Highway Bodies by Alison Evans
Published by Echo Publishing on February 1, 2019
Genres: Young Adult
Buy on Book Depository
Who will you rely on in the zombie apocalypse?
Bodies on the TV, explosions, barriers, and people fleeing. No access to social media. And a dad who’ll suddenly bite your head off – literally. These teens have to learn a new resilience…
Members of a band wield weapons instead of instruments.
A pair of siblings find there’s only so much you can joke about, when the menace is this strong.
And a couple find depth among the chaos.
Highway Bodies is a unique zombie apocalypse story featuring a range of queer and gender non-conforming teens who have lost their families and friends and can only rely upon each other.
“Think I might hate him. I guess that’s not so bad, considerin he’s dead an I’m a murderer now. Does it count as murder? I don’ fucken know.”
Highway Bodies by Alison Evans is a zombie book, but it’s also not a zombie book. It is, one of the short-listed novels for the 2019 Readings Young Adult Book Prize, which is how I discovered it.
I should explain why a novel with so many zombies isn’t really a zombie book. The zombies aren’t the main characters. The main characters are three pretty normal, everyday kids, and their friends.
Highway Bodies is a triple point of view novel of each character’s experiences during a zombie apocalypse. Well, we assume it’s a zombie apocalypse because not much of that is discussed. It’s more the trying to survive than discovering why zombies have spread through Victoria, and possibly all of Australia. Each character is different and would unlikely be friends in the same school. Even if they were in the same area, I doubt they would have gone to the same school. There’s a mix of socioeconomic groups.
There is a LOT to love about this book. Putting aside that it’s set just north of Melbourne and references many places I know, which freaked me out a little, it’s got the most inclusive and representative characters in any book I’ve seen. It’s interesting to see the acceptance. As with many YA novels, the adults are the bad guys, so the only narrow-mindedness comes from an adult. The teens introduce themselves and each other with preferred pronouns. But the diversity isn’t called out as different and I love it for that.
It could be because I have read little Australian YA of late that the Australianisms really stand out and could be confusing. Jojo’s quote above is in their voice, which can be hard to read. And while I know how far Kinglake and Werribee are from each other, showing all of Melbourne is taken over, not knowing isn’t that relevant to the story. It just had me getting up to close a window and lock the door reading it halfway between the towns. There’s also a nod to John Marsden’s Tomorrow series, but that could be accidental.
The representation is why this book should be in all school libraries and it’s an excellent story which is why you’ll want to read it. And I’m sure I will be forever on alert heading through Melbourne’s northern suburbs.