Karen DeSonne always passed as a normal (if pale) teenager; with her friends, with her family, and at school. Passing cost her the love of her life. And now that Karen’s dead, she’s still passing—this time, as alive. Karen DeSonne just happens to be an extremely human-like zombie. Meanwhile, Karen’s dead friends have been fingered in a high-profile murder, causing a new round of antizombie regulations that have forced them into hiding. Karen soon learns that the “murder” that destroyed their non-life was a hoax, staged by Pete Martinsburg and his bioist zealots. Obtaining enough evidence to expose the fraud and prove her friends’ innocence means doing the unthinkable: becoming Pete’s girlfriend. Karen’s only hope is that the enemy never realizes who she really is—because the consequences would be worse than death.
First Impresssions: Having read the previous two in the Generation Dead series, I knew pretty much what to expect. They tend to be a little slow, but interesting with the dynamics that the addition of teenage zombies. Worthwhile reads for sure.
Passing Strange is mislabeled, if you ask me. It says it's "High school zombies for Twilight fans" but I find Passing Strange more introspective than Twilight, with less fluff and intense romance, and more zombie rights and how the sudden appearance of teenage zombies can stir up the world.
While Generation Dead and Kiss of Life focused on Phoebe, Adam, and Tommy, Passing Strange has Karen and Pete at centre stage. The love triangle characters are still there - though Tommy just in reference - but they are a part of it. Karen's an interesting character, as we get to look into a zombie mind. She's got a past- she did commit suicide after all and came back as a zombie because of it. Her remorse and need to redeem herself is a huge part of the novel and it influences much of her actions. Pete, who seemed like a cold, crazy killer in the first books, is characterized more in Passing Strange, where he almost seems normal at times. He's got twisted views for sure, and takes many turns in character so the reader never really knows who he is, well, human. Just a twisted one. And a good actor.
While the plot slows down at times, Karen's secret mission carries the story along, along with the mystery of her backstory (though it's slightly obvious) and Pete's strange motives. There's also the rest of the zombies who have gone into hiding who make appearances. I'm starting to really like Tak, who gets more story time and gets his past and self shared.
Generation Dead and Kiss of Life set up the story and reflected on the mistreatment of zombies (and therefore any racism in present real life), but Passing Strange took a slightly different approach. With Karen as the only one who narrates in first person (there are also third person narrations centering on Pete and Tak), Karen's thoughts bring a different type of voice. It's more reflective on individuals being zombies, instead of how zombies affect the whole population. It's how being a zombie affects you kind of thing. There's also a bit more of a spy/stealthiness feel to Passing Strange.
Final Impressions: Overall, I really enjoyed reading Passing Strange, even if it did take a considerable amount of time to read due to a sometimes uneventful story. All the characters are realized and strongly done and the book is often witty. Though my favourite part of the novel is by far the impact zombies can have on society and what coming back as a zombie would feel like.