Ooops, how could I have left out Nick Lake’s Blood Ninja?  Drat, I’ll go back and revise when time.  Ninja’s were vampires, think about it a minute.  Makes perfect sense.  Very intense action, adventure, fighting, lots of fighting, killing, etc. with a little humor here and there.  When they pick up the finger to use later, that got a chuckle out of me.  Also The Crossroads, Jade Green, The Presence . . . I’ll get to it.  Much more coming.

Andrew Fukuda – The Hunt

the huntInstead of the traditional humans turning into zombies storyline that wipes out humanity, humans are facing extinction from a vampire-ish majority that crave a diet of the few remaining true humans called hepers.  The story opens with Gene, a heper doing his best to blend in at school by adopting the habits of the perverse form of humans.  Heper scent is enough to cause his classmates to salivate uncontrollably while the smell of human blood makes them frenetic.  One wrong step and he’d be eaten alive.  There are very few hepers left.  The few in captivity will be released in a Hunt, where seven lottery winners will get the honor of chasing the hepers down and devouring them.  Wouldn’t you know, Gene and his girl crush, Ashley June, are among the lucky few chosen to go on the Hunt.  Disguising his heper identity will be impossible as the lottery winners are confined to the Heper Institute for training in the days before the Hunt.

The action never stopped!  Brilliantly written, opening with the story of a kindergarten girl who made the mistake of attending school only to be discovered on her first day and devoured by classmates.  The author weaves the story of Gene and his lonely, isolated life, and his desperate fight to blend in that is literally a fight for survival.   The book ends with an interesting puzzler, meaning much more to come in the next installment.

Jonathan MaberryRot & Ruin, Dust & Decay

This is one of the best YA zombie series I have read – by far.  Yes, another zombie dystopia.  There is plenty of zombie goriness and horror.  An isolated town battles zombies to stay alive and try to create some semblance of life.  It is the plot, the characters and the action-packed writing that sets these books apart from the zombie pack.  The characters are really well developed.  I have a book crush on Tom Imura, the soulfully deep and kind-hearted “closure specialist”.  He puts a humane end to loved ones who have been zombified.   Maberry is the zombie master.  Brilliant!  Carpet coasts (nothing bites through carpet, not dogs, not zombies) and clever zombie trading cards are just some of the details in this well-developed zombie future.  The story lingered with me – not the gore.

Carrie Ryan –  The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead Tossed Waves,  The Dark and Hollow Places

Seven generations after an undead plague, one community of healthy folks live behind chain-link fences in the midst of a forest occupied by zombies.  It is a tightly controlled society with plenty of rules to keep everyone safe.  Many have never heard of the ocean or believe there is anyone else outside the forest untouched .  They’ve developed a warning system with platforms up high in the event of a zombie breach.   What worked in the past doesn’t work when a massive zombie breach occurs.  Our heroine, Mary, makes a run for it.

Rick YanceyThe Monstrumologist

Ahhh – this is horror and suspense writing at its best.  Horror is not my favorite genre but I do read a fair amount.   The story is told from 12-year-old Will Henry’s point of view (memoir) set in 1888.  He is the assistant to a Monstrumologist, Dr. Warthrop, as his father was before him.   The story opens with a monster dissection.  Horrific monsters originated in Africa.  Their diet is comprised solely of live humans.  In a pinch, they’ll consume a newly dead person.  During the Civil War, the monsters were shipped to the states.  TheMonstrumologist and helpers set out to kill the monsters before they kill again.  Sure, it is bloody, that tends to happen when people are ripped to shreds, but less bloody than Shan’s Demonata series.  I was pleasantly surprised with The Monstrumologist because the writing kept me glued to the story.  I do intend to read the sequels when I’m next in the mood for a romp with bloody beasts.  For slightly tamer horror (less blood but still body parts removed from the body, etc.) I prefer Paul Zindel’s books and evil ghost stories like Jade Green (Naylor) and Spirit (Hightman).

Paul ZindelLoch (and many other titles)

lochPaul Zindel’s books are perfect for monster horror with not too much gore.  Usually just a few body parts here and there.  Loch is my favorite.  Residents living by lake discover there is a monster residing there when body parts are found floating in the water.