Play Dead

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Play Dead

Zombies + Football =the entire plot of Play Dead.  After a rival team's prank goes horribly, horribly wrong the Killington High football team is killed...but conveniently a witch is nearby to bring them all back (except for Cole and the coach, who survived).  The rest of the novel is about the romance between Cole and the Coach's daughter, jokes about how you can't tell a teenager from a zombie, the rival team's absurdities and football.  There is a lot about football in here, which I wasn't expecting despite the premise and knowledge of what the book is about.

I'm a zombie fangirl, if you say zombie I'm there to read the book or watch the movie pretty quickly, but I can admit nothing like this has been around before.  The reasoning is slim at best, and at worst there is none.  The book meanders from plot point to plot point, giving only basic facts and cliche'd reactions.  Cole is the proverbial bad boy with a heart of gold, Coach Hickham is determined to win at any cost and is hiding a secret, his daughter is a plucky school reporter falling for Cole...there isn't much depth to the characters or their personalities. 

And unfortunately football overshadows even the zombie aspect.  You would think with a book about zombies playing high school football that may be the focus of the book, but the 'big game' that Elmwood (the rivals) were so worried about (absurdly so) is given maybe three dozen pages total.  Most of which is a straight football narrative. 

I give the author, a former soap opera star and son to the infamous Sandra Brown, credit for an original idea that at least stands out (on paper) from the tsunami of other zombie-centric media, but I don't believe he had the writing experience to make it more than marginally interesting.  He wasn't able to balance the horror with the football antics, nor provide enough depth to have characters stand out or mean something.

Book Blurb for Play Dead

Today’s #1 New York Times bestselling thriller writers agree: Ryan Brown’s compulsively readable first novel is unbeatable—a darkly humorous, rich and pungent zombie shocker that melds our national obsession with football and the newest wave of fascination with the undead. For the first time in Killington High School history, the Jackrabbits football team is one win away from the district championship where it will face its most vicious rival, the Elmwood Heights Badgers. On the way to the game, the Jackrabbits’s bus plunges into a river, killing every player except for bad-boy quarterback Cole Logan who is certain the crash was no accident—given that Cole himself was severely injured in a brutal attack by three ski-masked men earlier that day. Bent on payback, Cole turns to a mysterious fan skilled in black magic to resurrect his teammates. But unless the undead Jackrabbits defeat their murderous rival on the field, the team is destined for hell. In a desperate race against time, with only his coach’s clever daughter, Savannah Hickman, to assist him, Cole must lead his zombie team to victory. . . in a final showdown where the stakes aren’t just life or death—but damnation or salvation. Boundlessly imaginative and thrillingly satisfying, Play Dead gives small-town Texas an electrifying jolt of the supernatural, and is unquestioningly The Zombie Novel of the Year!
The Comeback Story of the Season . . . 

Night Owl Reviews Jun, 2010 3.00