cover image Zombie Baseball Beatdown

Zombie Baseball Beatdown

Paolo Bacigalupi. Little, Brown, $17 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-22078-1

Printz-winner Bacigalupi (Ship Breaker) defies the expectations of the comedy-horror genre, turning this zombie novel into an effective bit of social commentary while staying true to the story’s grisly and goofy roots. In a small town dominated by Milrow Meat Solutions, Rabi Chatterjee-Jones is a normal kid, mostly concerned with not making a fool of himself playing baseball, and spending time with his friends Miguel and Joe. Shortly after Miguel’s family—illegal immigrants, like many who work in the meatpacking industry—is deported, the boys run into a zombie and start to suspect that there’s more than meets the eye at the plant. There are some familiar zombie-tale elements (yes, the zombies shout for “brains,” and, no, the police don’t believe the boys), but their biggest nemeses are corporate lawyers and plant managers. Bacigalupi rails against factory farming, the abuse of illegal immigrants, and ag-gag laws, but never lets the humorous elements fall by the wayside. Casual readers will have a blast, and those who look deeper will learn something, too. Ages 8–12. Agent: Martha Millard, Martha Millard Literary Agency. (Sept.)