Review: Dead City by James Ponti

Welcome to by first book review of 2020! I wanted to make this my first book of the year because my niece wanted me to read it. Last year, when I was sick, she leant me her copies of this series to keep me company. We’re both book nerds and we both enjoy the fantasy and science fiction genre the most. But I felt bad because when I’m that sick, I have problems comprehending and remembering things. So I wasn’t able to read them. Now that they’ve switched my medications and I’m working my way back to remission, I’m feeling well enough to start reading again. 🙂

Before I get into my review, let’s pull some data from Goodreads:

Dead City

(Dead City #1)

by James Ponti (Goodreads Author)
 4.26  ·   Rating details ·  2,678 ratings  ·  391 reviews
A tween takes on undead New Yorkers in this paranormal action-adventure that “breathes new life into the zombie genre” (Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games).

 

Most kids have enough to deal with between school, homework, extracurricular activities, and friends, but Molly Bigelow isn’t your typical tween. By day, Molly attends MIST—the Metropolitan Institute of Science and Technology—but it’s what she’s learning outside of school that sets her apart from her classmates. Molly is a zombie hunter, just like her mother.

This, however, is news to Molly. Now she must come to terms with not only the idea that zombies exist, but also that they’re everywhere, and it’s her job to help police them and keep the peace. Sure, she’d like to be a regular kid, but “regular” just isn’t possible when it turns out the most revered (or feared, depending on your perspective) zombie hunter in the history of New York City is your mother. It seems Molly’s got some legendary footsteps to follow…

 
Paperback, 277 pages
Published January 2014 by Scholastic Inc. (first published October 2nd 2012)
ISBN: 0545690994 (ISBN13: 9780545690997)
Edition Language: English
Setting: New York State (United States)
 

 
 
Let me start by saying that I haven’t read a “middle grades” book since I left the middle grades. Honestly, I’m in my 30s and didn’t believe they’d be in depth enough to keep me interested. However, Mr. Ponti does a really good job of moving and twisting the plot enough to keep any age curious. Now I wouldn’t say that Dead City is a difficult read. You wouldn’t want that for our younger readers. But it’ll hold your attention.
 
 
Molly is our heroine and we meet her in the most interesting situation. She’s trapped in a girl’s locker room with a zombie that wants to kill her but she’s utterly unphased. Molly is smart, spunky, and kind and everything I would want my niece to aspire to in life. She doesn’t always make the right choices and she pays for those mistakes; another thing I think is good for young kids to understand. But Molly’s support system still loves and cares for her despite these mistakes. Better still, Molly learns from them and does her best to not make them again.
 
 
Through the story, we learn that Molly is sort of a legacy. At her school, there’s a secret organization made up of students that police the zombies of Manhattan. The Omegas, as they are called, are responsible for protecting Level 1 Undead (a term they prefer over zombie) from the Breathers (what the Undead call the Living). Omegas also have to sometimes put down Level 3s when they become too dangerous (Level 3s are what we typically see in zombie movies). Molly’s Mom was THE Omega back in her day and a legend among the teams. Even though Molly lost her Mom due to cancer, it seems that she was, in her own way, training Molly for the Omegas her whole life.
 
 
I loved Molly’s teammates and how their strengths made them a better group. You have Natalie, the team leader, who is always great under pressure. She takes Molly under her wing and acts as another big sister. Grayson is crazy smart, especially with computers. Awkward in his own right around people, he makes Molly feel comfortable with her “weirdness”. Then we have Alex. The muscle but with a soft side for his little sisters. The humor, sarcasm, and love they all have for each other was perfect and I really couldn’t get enough of this healthy dynamic. They stood up for each other, protected each other, supported each other. Even when one of them faltered.
 
 
But her team wasn’t the only support Molly had. Her Dad, who absolutely had no idea about the Omegas or zombies, was clearly present her life and loved her. Despite, or maybe because of, the fact that Molly took more after her Mom than him, you could totally feel that he encouraged Molly’s desire to stay involved in things she shared with her Mom – like working at the morgue. Even Beth, Molly’s big sister who is the polar opposite of her, cared for her wellbeing. Absolutely they had the typical sister squabbles around being seen with each other in public or sharing clothes. However, there was a particularly poignant moment in the bathroom where Beth shows Molly how to put on make-up that I loved.
 
 
As I said, the book starts with Molly fighting a Level 3. Then we sort of Quentin Tarantino it and learn how she got to that moment. I don’t want to give too much away but it ends with a pretty good plot twist which will definitely make the second book, Blue Moon, interesting. I would totally recommend this book to any kid in the 10 years or older category that likes urban fantasy. It’s wholesome, no love story to worry about, and action packed with a strong, smart female lead.

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