Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Serial Killers' Featured Review: Zombie Mommy by M.T. Anderson

Want to know more about the idea behind Serial Killers? This post is the place to start.

This month's book is Zombie Mommy the 5th book in the Pals in Peril series by M.T. Anderson. Odd's the established reader and I'm new to the series...

Synopsis (Goodreads)
Our intrepid heroes are home from their Delaware crime-stopping excitement, only to discover that Lily’s mom has become possessed by a menacing zombie who wants to take over the world! (Or, at least, the world of stage and screen.) Thank goodness Lily’s friends Katie, Jasper, and foxy Blue-Hen-State monk Drgnan Pghlik are around—accompanied by Jasper’s Astounding High-Pressure Holy Water Extruder Gun, of course—to help save the day.

But not before some truly scary things happen, things involving stuff like killer tarantulas, web-footed teen vampire boys, bad weather (it’s a horror novel, remember?), and, well…the rest is just too terrifying for words!
Odd's Thoughts: I am not sane on the topic of this series. I picked up the first one, Whales on Stilts, and it was all over at the newt races. Newt races, people. Newt races. 

I love how snarky the books are, how they're unashamedly a send-up of Nancy Drew, Tom Swift and the Famous Five while at the same time letting you know the author has a serious soft spot for his creations. I love Jasper dash and his lederhosen. I love Katie and her hatred for commuter-train-sized caterpillars and dickwad social studies teachers. I love Lily and her appreciation of small, forgotten places overgrown with ivy. I still, all these years later, love Whales on Stilts. (Spoiler: they shoot lasers out of their eyes. Seriously, why are you even still reading this review? Whales. On stilts! With lasers! Believe me, if you desert the review now to go get your copy I will totally understand. And eventually, forgive.)

The thing is... I do not love this new love-triangle twist involving Drgnan, the monk from book 3, Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware. I'm fully aware that you know, middle grades = hormones = notes passed about boys/girls/llamas (etc etc) but it's killing me to see how Anderson makes Katie stupid in the process. I do not love that at all. Not even a little.


A quick read with, as promised, shambling zombies. Loved the set-up, loved Madigan Westlake-Culottes, or whatever her name was, really didn't love all the fighting over Drgnan. That's not really why I showed up for this series. More inventions, more strange and wonderful magic realism, less romantic triangles, please.

My Thoughts: For the love of fancy cheeses! I was giggling more during this book than was probably good for me. I LOVED the way the author would insert himself into the narrative. It was highly amusing and it worked to keep the story light without being ridiculous. The moment that really sold the book for me was when Lily's mom went all introspective about her (supposed) imminent demise:
"But what if I do have a deadly disease?" she asked out loud. "No. I'm being ridiculous... It's just a cold... But what if I do? Or even worse, what if it is just a cold but I go into the hospital for a test - and ironically I catch a deadly disease from another patient in the hospital?" Though she knew this was not very likely, still, it consumed her. "Then...," she whispered, "then Lily and Ben will be all alone... And if it's anything like those dead mother books, Lily will become a pickpocket or a shoplifter... or she'll have to get a pet raccoon to teach her the meaning of trust..."
Even rereading that has me laughing out loud. Oh, Lily's mom! I've had those EXACT SAME THOUGHTS!

I don't know what to say. This book was silly and vastly entertaining. My niece informed me that the cover has a Scooby-Doo vibe (which works for me because I love those meddling kids) and she'd like to read it next. Well played, M.T. Anderson! You've managed to get my wee niece excited about reading!

Odd: First off, I'm just sorry you had to meet this series with this particular book, because when she's not throwing fits about Drgnan, Katie's actually a strong and sarcastic autonomous character. And this whole Let's Fight Over The Boy Monk subplot, which has only been happening in the last two books, is chapping my tits sideways. As in, this particular subplot is the specific reason I've subtracted precious GoodReads stars from both installations. And I'm kind of torn about it, because I get that, as YA-aged characters, this issue was bound to rear its ugly head sooner or later.

But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Kelly: Chapping your tits sideways? OUCH!

I really liked the book overall but now you have me curious about the earlier books. No romantic love-trianglely plot? Egad! But... but... how in the world will the storyline progress without a literary threesome?

Odd: I'd have to say the two strongest entries in this series have been the first one, Whales on Stilts, which introduced this whole idea that the world is full of strange occurrences that most people never notice (like uh, whales on stilts, for one) and the third book, Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware, which is probably my favorite right now, by which I mean that I'm getting a tattoo of one of the sentences.

Plus at one point in the book everyone's being chased through the jungles of Delaware (go with it) by cannibals on kangaroo-back (see earlier note):
With cruel shrieks and hooting calls, the cannibals of Delaware dismounted and began to pace toward the three friends. Except for six who, disoriented by all the hopping, paced in the wrong direction, spun in circles, or went to throw up in the bushes. The rest, however, looked menacing. They looked hungry. They dressed in loincloths and terrycloth sweatbands. They were greased, and their hair was long and shaggy like rockers. In their hands were spears, long forks, chips and salsa, and cradled in one man's arms, a Cobb salad in Saran Wrap.

Their kangaroos hunkered behind them, waiting for the slaughter.

The chief stood on the path right in front of Lily, Jasper and Katie. He wore a headdress -- a busy, brutal confection of pheasant wings, rat skulls and sequins -- and an old barbecue apron that said I'M HERE WITH SCRUMPTIOUS ------->
 So you can see why this series holds a special place in my heart. Which makes this whole Katie-goes-boycrazy thing extra annoying.

Kelly: Whoa. I want you to know that I'm *thisclose* to putting the entire series on hold from that quote alone.

I liked the humor that popped up throughout the book. It was silly but it was the type of silly that didn't make me roll my eyes. I just... liked it. It made me smile. AND WHO DOESN'T LIKE SMILING??

Odd: Communists, that's who. And kangaroo-mounted cannibals. Also, if I am remembering correctly, whales on stilts. They found it particularly hard to smile with their big old baleen grills. It gave them away every time.

Kelly: Ha! Okay. You got me there.

So, if we exclude the love triangle, did this book live up to the others as far as the beasties/bad guys go?

Odd: It did, I have to say. If we exclude the love triangle, I thought there were a lot of elements done well and in ways I hadn't seen before: who and what the ghost was, the creepy theatre, that whole entire ghost town in upstate NY (which, if you've never driven through it is lousy with small towns that might as well be unpopulated or undead populated) and most of all, the solution to the ghost at the end. The whole thing was hilarious and plausible.

Now let's just hope Drgnan monks himself back off to the jungles of Delaware OR, if he sticks around, quits stealing Katie's spine. I mean, if he ends up with anyone, I want it to be Jasper.
" you and Drgnan talk?"

...Jasper looked at [Lily] oddly. "Of course we talk."

Lily said nervously, "What about? Like, personal things?"

"Why, we talk about everything."

"Do you ever talk about..." Lily couldn't make herself go on. She was too embarrassed. She just said, "Like what?"

"Well, we have know...what you and Katie probably talk about: what tattoos we'll get when we're older. Which of us can slap higher on a wall. What the rules would be for a ball game with bikes that spit fire."

--Agent Q, or The Smell of Danger! (book 4)
You're with me on this, right?

Kelly: I'm with you because who doesn't have long discussions about the rules to a  ball game with bikes that spit fire with their significant other??? WIN!

Split Decision
Odd wasn't impressed with the lovey-dovey aspects of the storyline and rated it in the lower range due to that but I found it charming and wasn't much bothered by it.

Books in this series
1. Whales on Stilts
2. The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen
3. Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware
4. Agent Q, or The Smell of Danger!
5. Zombie Mommy - Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

Author Links
| Website | Amazon |


  1. Kelly was this one of the books you read during Bout of Books? It seems to be familiar to me. Mostly because I remember you talking about how it made you laugh.

    1. Yes. I read it on day 1, I think. It was part of my zombie-palooza! Or something.