Saturday, January 1, 2011

Review: The Cellar by A.J. Whitten

ARC Review
Release Date: May 2, 2011

Synopsis (via Goodreads):
Meredith Willis is suspicious of Adrien, the new guy next door. When she dares to sneak a look into the windows of his house, she sees something in the cellar that makes her believe that Adrien might be more than just a creep—he may be an actual monster.

But her sister, Heather, doesn’t share Meredith’s repulsion. Heather believes Adrien is the only guy who really understands her. In fact, she may be falling in love with him. When Adrien and Heather are cast as the leads in the school production of Romeo and Juliet, to Heather, it feels like fate. To Meredith, it feels like a bad omen. But if she tries to tear the couple apart, she could end up in the last place she’d ever want to be: the cellar. Can Meredith convince her sister that she’s dating the living dead before it’s too late for both of them?
My Thoughts: It probably says something about my warped reading choices that I was hoping for some serious zombie romance when I first picked this book up.  Instead of hot zombie action I got creepy, crawly, bugs-across-your-flesh horror with a side order of devoured brains.  Now, I don't have a problem with a little gratuitous cannibalization.  Hey, it happens.  And really, once you're a zombie are you still considered human?  I mean, are they their own species?  If they are, we don't have any cannibalization issues at all.  Not that it was really an issue with me.  Which is the whole point I was trying to make in the first place.

And now I feel like I have to go on record and say that I personally don't cannibalize people.  Cross my heart.  I did enjoy Cannibal Women and the Avocado Jungle of Death when I watched it, but I never felt the urge to eat anyone.  Yes, it's a real movie.  I own it.  Adrienne Barbeau, Bill Maher and Shannon Tweed.  Good times, guys.  Good times in the avocado jungle!

Once again, not really my point.  This book is young adult horror.  It takes the "what if my crush is really a flesh-eating zombie" and turns it into an effectively creepy story.  The descriptions of the actual killings were fairly light on the gore (by my standards, at least) but there's a good amount of torture and mayhem leading up to them.  Hey, they're zombies.  They play with their food.

Heather and Meredith were intriguing characters.  Dealing with the recent death of their father, the girls are both floundering in different ways.  Heather blames herself for the car accident that killed him and has drawn into herself.  Meredith has had to be the strong one and hasn't truly grieved for what's been lost.  On top of that, Meredith suffers from a degenerative eye condition that could potentially cause hallucinations making her question if anything she sees is real.

All in all, this book worked well with the descriptions of the rotting flesh and the decomposition of a walking dead body.  It lost a little in the frenetic ending simply because it seemed like it tied up almost too easily.  Plus, with a good portion of the student body wiped out, wouldn't the town been in a freaking uproar?  I also felt that Heather took everything that happened in the end in stride too easily.  After the depression she'd been wallowing in I expected her to need a much longer time to come to terms with everything.

That said, the book was enjoyable.  Definitely heavy on the horror with a touch of romance thrown in, not necessarily for the faint of heart.

More books by AJ Whitten

ARC provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley.
Read and reviewed for the E-book Challenge, The Morbid Romantica ChallengeThe Horror & Urban Fantasy Challenge

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