Monday, October 11, 2021

The Zombie Parade

The Last Kids on Earth and the Zombie Parade
by Max Brallier
illustrated by Douglas Holgate
Recommended Ages: 11+

Jack and his friends Quint, June and Dirk may, for all they know, be the only humans to survive the monster apocalypse. They live together in a treehouse in the backyard of Jack's most recent foster family, whom he hasn't seen since stuff started going down. They survive by raiding shops for food and supplies and either fighting or running when they meet zombies or other people-eating creatures. Among their assets are a pet monster dog named Rover, a truck called Big Mama, a broken baseball bat that Jack calls the Louisville Slicer, and their own combined strengths of brains, brawn and bravery.

Their lonely landscape changes one day when a humanoid monster named Thrull saves them from, um, Wormungulus at the shopping mall. Thrull leads them to Joe's Pizza, which has become a meeting place for similar creatures, refugees from another dimension that was drained of life by a dude I'll call Rezzoch the Ancient, Destructor of Worlds, although the actual spelling of his name has lots of non-standard characters in it. The kids learn that Rezzoch is trying to find a way into their already monster-challenged world, which in a weird way kind of explains why zombies are starting to become scarce around town. Someone is summoning them together with a shriek that acts on zombies like the Pied Piper's piping acted on rats. Summoning them, sucking their brains out and feeding them to an awful, animated tree in a ritual intended to bring Rezzoch into our dimension. Yuck.

The kids find themselves with a task that they hope will help in the fight against evil in their world, but unwittingly they become pawns in Rezzoch's evil plan. With one of his best friends' life at stake, not to mention all life in the universe, Jack goes into full action hero mode to face down a vile betrayer and fight a power so vast that it deserves the moniker "destructor of worlds." Meanwhile, he has to learn to balance his instinct to protect his friends with the ability to trust them and let them do their part as well.

It's a monstrously funny, kid-friendly book full of surprises and touches of hopeful humanity amid the post-apocalyptic horror. Jack is kind of a silly kid, but he knows it and that makes him fun to be around, most of the time. His friends complement him well. His goofy attachment to his zombie "butler," dubbed Alfred, is weirdly touching. And despite his mistakes, he looks like he's well on his way to becoming a great leader, a process that will be fun to follow in future books.

This is the second "Last Kids on Earth" graphic novel by this writer-artist team. Subsequent sequels include The Nightmare King, The Cosmic Beyond, The Midnight Blade, The Skeleton Road, The Doomsday Race and the upcoming Quint and Dirk's Hero Quest. There are also a couple of companion books, including a survival guide and June's Wild Flight. Brallier's other illustrated books for kids include Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?, Highway to Hell, three "Galactic Hot Dogs" books, two "Lego Nexo Knights Academy" books, three "Mister Shivers" stories, a couple of "Adventure Time" books, and a few non-fiction titles. Credited as Jack Chabert, he also writes the "Eerie Elementary" books.

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