by James Ponti
Recommended Ages: 13+
Molly and Co.'s quest to learn more about the Unlucky 13 is interwoven, somewhat, with a firsthand account by one of them, the elusive Milton Blackwell, who became alienated from his brother Marek and the others in part because his mistake made them all undead. In an zombie hierarchy where a Level 3 is brain-eating goon, a Level 2 is a soulless psychopath and a Level 1 is practically human, Milton is a nice Level 1 while his potential rival for power, Ulysses Blackwell, is a dangerous Level 2. You can guess which one the Omegas would like to see step up into Marek's place.
But adding complexity to their run-up to New Year's Eve is the discovery of an electronically sealed vault deep beneath Grand Central Station. Now the Omegas may have bigger things to worry about than Marek's Verify. Now they may be facing a program called Blue Moon, based on a pro-Soviet scheme from the Cold War era, to convert millions of New Yorkers – not to communism, but to undeadism. With a chance that wheels are already moving to turn hearts across Manhattan as cold as the Manhattan schist, Molly's little group and even the larger, secret organization behind the Omegas may not be able to move fast enough to save New York.
So, that's the basic gist. But between the covers of the book there is so much more – a glimpse of New York history featuring then-Police Chief Theodore Roosevelt; a family secret involving Molly's mom, who isn't quite as dead as most people thought; a sizzle of high-tech gadgetry, including a biometric scanner calibrated for room-temperature flesh and a talking computer that can scan top-secret documents; views from all levels of New York, from the tram line running 250 feet above the East River to the deepest abandoned subway tunnels – not leaving out 30 Rock and St. Patrick's Cathedral, thank you; fast-paced combats, surprise revelations, grisly horrors and a final shock that will set the hook for the next book in the series.
This is the second book of the "Dead City" trilogy, between Dead City and Dark Days. Ponti is also the author of three "TOAST Mysteries" and so far two "City Spies" books, all for young readers.