Book Review (& Giveaway): Blue Moon by James Ponti

Blue MoonTitle: Blue Moon

Author: James Ponti

Genre: Horror, Urban Fantasy, Middle Grade, Zombies

Publisher: Aladdin
Publication Date: October 2013
Hardcover: 336 Pages

Molly is ready for more nonstop, undead action in this follow-up to Dead City, which Kirkus Reviews described as “a fast-paced read for those who like their zombies with just a little fright.”

When Molly Bigelow discovered that zombies shared New York with humans, she didn’t think life could get more shocking. Then she learned that her mother was once one of the greatest zombie killers ever—and she discovered that her dead mother is not technically dead at all (although she isn’t alive, either).

Molly’s efforts to keep these secrets and to help her Omega team track down the identity of the original thirteen zombies will take her from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade to New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Her loyalties to friends and family will be put to the test. And her life will be changed in ways she never could have imagined.

Stand alone or series: Book 2 in the Dead City series

How did I get this book: Bought

Format (e- or p-): Ebook

Why did I read this book: I recently read and loved the first book in this middle grade series, Dead City. When I learned the second book would be coming out this month, you bet I jumped on it immediately.

**WARNING: This review contains inevitable, unavoidable spoilers for book 1 in the series, Dead City. If you have not read book 1 and want to remain unspoiled, LOOK AWAY.**

Review:

After narrowly escaping death at the hands of Marek – an extremely powerful level 2 zombie and one of Manhattan’s original “unlucky 13″ (i.e. the city’s first zombies) – Molly Bigelow counts herself a very lucky young woman. But even though she’s survived a death-defying stint on the George Washington Bridge and thwarted Marek, things aren’t all sunshine and ponies. Rules have been broken, and Molly and her Omega team face serious consequences – they’ve been suspended from active duty and barely squeak through a formal Omega hearing to determine their ongoing membership in the world’s only zombie-policing force. Now that Marek is gone, New York’s undead population is in a period of upheaval – with zombies vying for power over Dead City, things are extremely volatile and Molly and her friends are given the important task of keeping tabs on the remaining original unlucky 13.

To make matters worse, Molly grapples with the biggest secret of them all: her mother, who died of cancer just a few short years before, has been revived as one of the city’s undead. Unwilling to tell her friends or her family about her mother’s undead state, Molly keeps this secret close. But at some point, the truth will come out, and Molly’s loyalties – to her friends, to the Omegas, and to her family – will be tested.

The second book in James Ponti’s Dead City series, Blue Moon picks up just a short time after the conclusion of the first book, and continues young Molly Bigelow’s story. I was pleasantly surprised by the strong characterization and imaginative worldbuilding in Dead City, and I’m happy to report that Blue Moon is every bit as entertaining and wonderful as its predecessor. In fact, it answers a few niggling questions and expands on the backstory of Manhattan’s undead – there are some early interspersed chapters from the point of view of Milton Blackwell in 1896, one of the original zombies and the man responsible for the ill-fated subway blast that tore a hole through the Manhattan schist and caused the dead to come back to life. I also loved that in this second book, we see more of the Omega history, too. We learn who started the secret underground zombie-policing service, and just how entrenched with politics and power figures the Omegas are – including some CIA classified documents, Cold War scenarios, and the involvement of former United States President Teddy Roosevelt. While some of the answers are a little hard to swallow, and I’m a little skeptical of the reasoning behind the creation of the Omegas and the logic behind enlisting tweens and teens, I do appreciate that there is some explanation given in this second book.

Blue Moon also ratchets up the action several notches, as well as the mystery-solving element to the series. There’s a nefarious plan that will affect the living and the undead in this second book (from which the novel gets it’s title, “Operation Blue Moon”) and adds a layer of wonderful urgency to the book. How Molly and her Omega friends get to this truth and solve the mystery of the undead’s plans leading up to a very important deadline is also wonderful good fun. Heck, in truth the Dead City books are akin to Scooby Doo cross-bred with National Treasure. You’ve got historical mysteries and complicated secret codes, all solved by martial arts-trained brainy science and math savvy meddling kids who inevitably save the day. How could you NOT love that?

On the negative side, while I love the ongoing action, I did feel that the characterization isn’t quite as strong in this second book. But perhaps that’s ok, because the focus here is on backstory, worldbuilding, and answer-gathering. There’s a hard deadline to solve a particular mystery in this book, after all, and character depth is pushed to the backburner. Still, I love the interactions and growing friendship that blossoms between the main characters, especially the trust issues that Omega team leader Natalie has with the brilliant young Molly. At one point, Alex draws the analogy that their team is kinda like a band – Natalie is the powerful front singer that is their voice and leader, Molly is the brilliant (if sometimes problematic) lead guitarist, Grayson is the solid and irreplaceable bass player, and Alex the drummer that makes sure everything stays on tempo. It’s brilliant and very, very fitting – this is a band that isn’t without its missteps, but they are there for each other, and I love reading their brand of strong friendship.

Moreso than the friendship dynamics, however, the thing I love so much about Blue Moon is the family dynamic. Even though this is thoroughly a secondary storyline, it’s refreshing and awesome to see a functioning family in YA and MG fiction. I love the relationship between Molly, her older sister Beth, and their father; mostly, I appreciate that Ponti shows that they are a family that struggles with loss, but at the same time it’s a family that relies on each other and makes the time to do things together. Most of all, and as I said in my review of Dead City, I really love the relationship between Molly and her prickly seventeen-year-old sister Beth – even though there’s exasperation and bickering there, there’s also love and understanding (not that they would EVER admit or say those things to each other). In Blue Moon, we also get this fascinating tension between Molly and her zombified mother – understandably, Molly’s mom doesn’t want her husband or other daughter to know that she’s still around (the rest of Molly’s family has no knowledge of the zombie family legacy). But this puts added pressure on Molly to keep her mother’s existence a secret from both her fellow Omegas and from her family – not to mention the fact that Molly herself is grappling with the shock, anger, and exhilaration of reuniting with her dead mother. It’s a fascinating, heartbreaking mother-daughter dynamic, and I’m a little nervous because you KNOW this will lead to some sad end. (Or maybe I’m just being pessimistic…)

Finally, I’d be remiss if I ended this review without mentioning the thematic complications at play in Blue Moon. I love that the undead are not portrayed as simple monsters who are hell-bent on power, or brains, or otherwise destroying the living. In fact, may of the undead are simply trying to carry on with their lives – this gets even more interesting when you consider the complication of past Omegas who are now zombies. In this second book, we don’t really see this divide in too much depth, but I appreciated the divided opinions regarding the living and the undead – Alex, for example, is very untrusting and even prejudicial when it comes to trusting the undead. There’s plenty of meat here for future books, and I sincerely hope that James Ponti continues with this particular thread in the next book.

Overall, Blue Moon is an entertaining, action-filled sequel, that finishes with a heck of a cliffhanger. I’m enjoying this series very much and cannot wait to jump back into the fray with Molly and her Omega buddies in book 3! Absolutely recommended, especially for the Halloween season.

Notable Quotes/Parts: You can read the first pages of Blue Moon here.

Additional Thoughts: James Ponti was this month’s newsletter guest – check it out for a Q&A with the author and more information about his Dead City books!

Rating: 7 – Very Good

Reading Next: Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold

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GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

Dead City Blue Moon

I love this series so much that we’re giving away a copy of Dead City and Blue Moon to a lucky winner. The contest is open to ALL and will run until Sunday October 20 at 12:01am EST. To enter, use the form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Buy the Book:

(click on the links to purchase)

Book Depository UK amazon_uk

Ebook available for kindle US, kindle UK, nook, Kobo, Google Play, Sony & iBooks

34 Responses to “Book Review (& Giveaway): Blue Moon by James Ponti”

  1. e October 15, 2013 at 12:33 am #

    thank you! looks great

  2. Tünde October 15, 2013 at 3:16 am #

    I am not really a zombie expert, but I was surprised how much I loved Max Brooks: World War Z which became my favourite zombie book. I have yet to see the film though.

  3. Gerd D. October 15, 2013 at 4:22 am #

    I’m going to out myself and admit:
    I enjoyed Laurell K. Hamilton’s “The laughing corpse” to the max. :)

    (But if we are allowed to put down a short story then I’d be torn between the bitter sweet “The Wind Cries Mary” by Brian Keene and the harrowing “Kids and their toys” by James A. Moore)

  4. Sarann October 15, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    The Enemy by Charlie Higson. I’ve only read the first two in the series (my need to reread after a long series break will be my downfall), but I loved those.

  5. Katrina October 15, 2013 at 8:29 am #

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPNqub966Tw
    Stephanie Mabey’s Zombie Song! It’s so catchy, it makes fun of Twilight, it’s a bit like Warm Bodies, but reversed…what’s not to love?

  6. mary anne October 15, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    I have to admit the zombie thing has always left me cold – haven’t really read any of the books or watched the movies/shows…until this past few weeks, when my son was watching World War Z and then the third season of Walking Dead on Netflix. I liked ’em both. Who knew? (Obviously a lot of people)

  7. Amanda October 15, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    Oh, 28 Days Later, hands down. If a part of the world were to get overrun by zombies, I imagine it’d probably go down just like that :)

    And World War Z (the book) is such a scary and “realistic” take on the zombie apocalypse. Though The Forest of Hands and Teeth is also fun!

  8. Hebe October 15, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    I love the Discworld zombies. They’re not undead, just “differently alive”.

  9. Joel October 15, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    The Discworld zombies are good, though my favorite take on them so far is James Ponti’s, how they are limited to one location. Looking forward to the second one!

  10. Andrea E October 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    I’d be the first to admit that I’m not much of a zombie person, but I loved both of the Dead City books, and am eagerly awaiting the next one already! Although now that I know there are Discworld zombies, I might have to go track those down. I’m pretty sure I would greatly enjoy those as well.

  11. Joni Patterson October 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    The only zombie book I’ve read is “Forest of Hands and Teeth”, but I might have to add these to my TBR pile and change that… ^^ Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. Marie-Claude October 15, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    Dearly Departed by Lia Habel !!! It’s so good !!!!

  13. Katie M October 15, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    I really enjoyed “Warm Bodies” both as a book and a movie because it took something “scary” and made it funny. If we’re going with actual scary zombies, then either The Walking Dead or The Last of Us.

  14. superbwg October 15, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    I’m loving the Mira Grant Newsflesh trilogy. Zombies vs Unicorns was pretty awesome. As far as movies I have to say Ahh Zombies a movie from the zombies perspective is the best zombie movie ever!

  15. Angela October 15, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    I just realized that I’ve only seen one typical zombie movie ever: Zombieland. I kind of liked it. Otherwise there are those mutated genes movies without the death that I liked (e.g. I am Legend), or the reanimated corpses that don’t eat brains (e.g. The Mummy).

  16. Grace October 15, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    I enjoyed ‘The Cabin in the Woods’.

  17. maggie. October 15, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    Hmm probably World War Z, the book not the movie.

  18. Maggie Gordon October 15, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    Ohh… I haven’t seen many zombie books for the middle age crowd, particularly with a female protagonist. This is going on my to-read pile!

  19. DebraG October 15, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    I don’t have a favorite right now. What would you recommend?

  20. Linda W October 15, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    My favorite zombie movie is Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry!

  21. Lexa Cain October 15, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

    This is adorable. I would have jumped on these if they’d been out when I was a kid. I’m glad Ponti’s giving today’s kids so much enjoyment. Thanks for the review! :-)

  22. Llehn October 15, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

    Rot and Ruin.

  23. Lexi October 15, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    I think that the only zombie book I’ve read is “Forest of Hands and Teeth” but there might be others. Also, Discworld zombies are pretty awesome too.

  24. Wicca Queen October 16, 2013 at 3:39 am #

    Hi

    I’m very much fantasy To Hear about Urban fantasy Stories and also I’m very much fond of james Ponti who was a well known writer based on genere I’ve searched a long for this Blue Moon but this was a Day I get to it

    Dream book

  25. Bonnie October 16, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    Thanks for the giveaway! I’ve never really read the zombie stories, but this one looks really good.

  26. Gaby Metivier October 16, 2013 at 8:17 am #

    I have not read a single zombie book yet, can you believe that? :? When it comes to TV shows, nothing can beat The Walking Dead, I just love it and I’m super excited about this new season! And in movies, I’ll go with Zombieland, it just cracks me up!

    Thanks for the giveaway! :D

  27. Giada M. October 16, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    I adore the tv series The Walking Dead. Thank you for the fantastic review and giveaway! :D

  28. Helle M. Larsen October 16, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    I love The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Walking Dead tv-series, and Zombieland. :) Haven’t read any zombie graphic novels yet.

  29. Jenna October 16, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    I think my favorite zombie book might have been Dearly, Departed. The sequel was awful but book one was great.

  30. LisaC October 16, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    Warm Bodies was pretty good.

  31. Katharine O October 16, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    It’s gotta be the old school Night of the Living Dead.

  32. Justine October 17, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    I really like the first Resident Evil movie, but not any of the sequels.

  33. Mary Preston October 17, 2013 at 4:35 am #

    I do love SHAUN OF THE DEAD.

  34. Jennifer October 19, 2013 at 4:36 am #

    I was trying hard to find an answer especially considering that I usually avoid them (but still trying, maybe the two books I have tried weren’t for me), and i don’t know why “zombies” I like made me think of the video game Resident Evil but not of the movie at first. Well I like the Resident Evil movie, it’s a nice one (and I still remember this laser scene). I thought the second one was ok too.

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