Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer by F.J.R. Titchenell is a YA novel about a group of teenagers surviving the zombie apocalypse. The story is told from the perspective of Cassie, an average teenage girl who is uncannily good at everything she does.
For Cassie, the apocalypse starts after a freak paintballing accident when a friend dies and comes back as a zombie in less than a minute. Somehow she immediately just knows her friend is a zombie and kills him. In real life, people have come back from death after a few minutes and I don’t think the natural reaction is to ‘make sure they’re dead for good this time’.
Luckily for Cassie, she won the manslaughter lottery and was right about zombie apocalypse.
Unluckily for Cassie, her and her friends have to take a road trip from Los Angeles to New York City because of misplaced guilt and plot convenience. Half of the teenagers never even seem to be curious as to what happened to their families, which is really odd considering the whole purpose of the road trip is to find the twin sister of one of the teenagers. Plot holes aside, the group of teenagers doesn’t really get along at first, especially the teenage girls. Unfortunately this is an ongoing theme throughout the entire story.
Cassie’s closest girl ‘friends’ already had issues with her before the zombie apocalypse because she knows how to talk to boys. Apparently this makes her a ‘slut’. Seriously. So all of Cassie’s real friends are boys because she is a ‘freak’ and likes boy stuff like paintball and comic books. The animosity isn’t one-sided, overall Cassie seems to view her female peers as superficial, moody, or stupid.
There are so many ways to create realistic conflict between characters, especially teenagers, so why use a sexist narrative that would have been outdated twenty years ago? This group of teenagers consists of a bunch of rich kids who live in LA in modern times, not in a rural town in the 80s. I might have been able to somewhat ignore this lazy writing if not for later mentions of “chromosome-deep weakness” and hormones causing Cassie to think unclearly.
Despite the main character having glaring problems with internalized sexism, the story does have its good points. Cassie is pretty badass with a baseball bat and the teenagers do have relatable moments, like when they’re all complaining about how much they miss fast food.
The zombies are also pretty interesting. They scream really loud when they see a human and just keep screaming. This paints a really terrifying image, especially if there’s a crowd of them, but most of the teenagers just seem to take it in stride. Unless the plot needs one of the teenagers to get hurt they kind of treat zombies like pests, not walking corpses made of nightmares. I have to give the story bonus points for a tornado that sucked up zombies, therefore becoming a zombie-nado.
The overall writing style of the story is pretty typical for the YA genre, although Cassie’s ‘witty’ narration does get irritating at times. There’s the obligatory love interests, teenage drama, and plenty of enjoyable action packed scenes. I would recommend this book as a light read to anyone who likes YA and apocalypses, but if you can’t ignore the unrealistic teenage drama and confusing character motivations feel free to skip it.
The world is Cassie Fremont’s playground. Her face is on the cover of every newspaper. She has no homework, no curfew, and no credit limit, and she spends her days traveling the country with her friends, including a boy who would do the chicken dance with death to make her smile. Life is just about perfect—except that those newspaper headlines are about her bludgeoning her crush to death with a paintball gun, she has to fight ravenous walking corpses every time she steps outside, and one of her friends is still missing, trapped somewhere in the distant, practically impassable wreckage of Manhattan.
Still, Cassie’s an optimist, more prone to hysterical laughter than hysterical tears, and she’d rather fight a corpse than be one. She’ll never leave a friend stranded when she can simply take her road trip to impossible new places, even if getting there means admitting to that boy that she might love him as more than her personal jester. Skillfully blending effective horror with unexpected humor, this diary-style novel is a fast-paced and heartwarming read.