Monday, March 17, 2014

Tahleen reviews: "Zombie Baseball Beatdown" by Paolo Bacigalupi

Title: Zombie Baseball Beatdown
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013
Narrator: Sunil Malhotra

Rating: 3.5 stars

Rabi, Miguel, and Joe have bigger problems than their losing Little League season. It's true, Rabi is a terrible hitter, and their coach doesn't seem to know what he's doing or how to create a batting line-up. Most of the other kids on the team would like to beat the three of them up, and know how to spin it to their advantage. Miguel's parents have been deported, and his aunt and uncle, who are also in the United States illegally, live in fear that they will be next. You'd think that would be enough problems for the boys. But all that pales in comparison when they stumble upon their coach—zombified. Finding a brain-hungry zombie is only the beginning, as their investigation leads them to the revelation that the zombie problem is much, much bigger than their small Iowan town.

Paolo Bacigalupi has managed to write a book, really a social commentary, on the meatpacking industry, immigration, racism, and zombies. You read that correctly.

I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. I enjoyed Sunil Malhotra's narration, mostly his zombie sounds, and it all works together as a cohesive unit, but part of me feels like Bacigalupi tried too hard to get too much in there, and it was like I was being lectured to at times. We leave this book knowing exactly how the author feels about certain hot-topic issues of the day.

I really enjoyed the relationships between the main characters and the development of their relationships with secondary characters, and the climax is great. The parts with the zombie attacks really make this book worth listening to; if it weren't for that, I'm not sure I would have bothered.  I am not so sure how I feel about the complete open-endedness of the book, but I can understand the logic behind Bacigalupi's choice to end it the way he does. It is impressive that Bacigalupi is able to write a readable and zombie-filled story while really writing a social commentary on two major contemporary issues, I just wish the execution had been a bit more subtle.

I listened to this book as part of the 2014 Hub Challenge. It was one of the Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults.

Disclosure: I got a copy of this audiobook from my local library.

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