They don't like to be called zombies. Or
dead heads, or worm food, or whatever pejorative terms the "creative"
people of the world are coming up with. They're differently biotic: American
teens literally rising from the dead into some semblance of their former
selves. Everyone is terrified of them. What are they, and why have they
come back from the dead?
High school junior Phoebe doesn't share the
world's qualms. In fact, she just might have a crush on Tommy Williams, a
quietly powerful differently biotic boy who shocks all the students of Oakvale
High when he tries out for the football team, just to prove that he can. Phoebe
admires Tommy's guts, but there are people less happy with his actions, most
notably Pete Martinsburg, fellow teammate and soul-crushing zombie-hater who
just might do anything to stop the differently biotic from living a life that
is not theirs to live.
Phoebe's best friend Adam is secretly in
love with her, and thus finds it difficult to believe that she can like, well,
a dead guy like Tommy Williams. But as Adam begins to learn about the plight of
the differently biotic, the prejudices and difficulties they face, he realizes
that maybe the only way he can help Phoebe be happy is by protecting Tommy...
no matter the cost.
Waters creatively plugs into the typical YA reader's love for paranormal
romance and ends up teaching us all a lesson about civil rights, prejudice, and
tolerance. All of the characters are carefully constructed to be
three-dimensional: readers can even empathize with the jerk Pete Martinsburg's
tortured feelings towards zombies. I also appreciated the generous--and
accurate!--details about sports (football, baseball, Frisbee) because that is
not something I come across often enough in YA literature. While occasionally
the lecturing about tolerance goes on for a page too long, overall GENERATION
DEAD is a fun way of being enlightened about the issues regarding
bigotry and prejudice.