Plot: Rabi, Joe and Miguel were having batting practice near the meat packing plant when they stumble upon ground zero for the apocalypse. Some unscrupulous business practices have turned the cows into flesh craving zombies. And the disease is spreading. The adults are doing everything they can to cover up the mess but Rabi and his friends know that they need to expose the company before they trigger a full scale zombie apocalypse.
This review was based on an ARC received at BEA 2013.
If you are a huge fan of Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, as I am, you should know that Bacigalupi’s new novel is a bit different. Zombie Baseball Beatdown is a middle grade novel, for one, and it isn’t afraid to be a bit ridiculous.
Rabi and his friends face bullies, zombies (human and bovine), cops and slimy lawyers with nothing but their guts, baseball bats and, of course, their braaaaiiiiins. There are more than enough investigations, chase scenes and zombie beatdowns to please any action fan. The whole thing culminates to an epic scene where the entire baseball team is confronted with hordes of zombies and Rabi must use his tactical genius to get them out of it. And if Bacigalupi goes over the top sometimes? It’s all the more fun for it.
But it isn’t all fun and games. Through his zombie cows, Bacigalupi forces kids to think of the foods they eat and how it is produced. And at the center of the novel is the problem of how illegal immigrants from Mexico are treated in the U.S. Miguel and his family face racism, harsh working conditions, blackmail and ultimately deportation. “When someone broke in and stole your stuff, you were supposed to call the cops. But what did you do when the cops broke in and stole your family?” (p. 63)
This is a great book for preteen boys: it is filled with action, sports, comic book references and gory zombie fun but it will also make them think. I had a good laugh, both at the story and at the horrified looks my colleagues gave the cover. 😀