cover image Sick


Tom Leveen. Abrams/Amulet, $16.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0805-3

In an exciting take on the zombie novel, Leveen (manicpixiedreamgirl) shifts to horror while maintaining his trademark complex relationships and character-driven storytelling. High school senior Brian is a smart kid, but generally a delinquent, mostly hanging around with his obnoxious punk buddy Chad and goofing around at school. While in their theater tech class, a mutated friend attacks and kills a number of students, and the survivors barricade themselves in the theater, where they witness former friends and others rampaging and attacking the rest of campus. The core of the story is a standard zombie survival tale with vicious attacks, internal conflicts, and escape attempts, all with the requisite attrition. But Leveen spends enough time developing his cast—including take-charge student Jaime; Brian’s cancer-survivor sister, Kenzie; and his anxiety-prone ex, Laura—and the mutation itself (a virulent form of arthritis) to keep things entertaining even when readers are anticipating certain plot points. There’s enough gore to bother more timid readers (bones are often torn in two), but nothing beyond what’s expected from the genre. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Mattson, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Oct.)