I found out about this book via Diverse Book Tours. Im actually surprised the author had never contacted Twinja Book Reviews directly, considering we're always on the lookout for Afro-Latina main characters in Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal or Speculative Fiction books.
I'd seen the cover on the blogosphere once, but it wasn't until DBT, that it fell into my lap. I really liked it. It featured a young Black-Latina actress named Dia Summers, who finds herself on a studio set filled with zombies.
No, I'm not kidding.
There were somethings I loved about the book, and some things I didn't connect with, but but despite them being personal feelings, I tried to be objective.
So here's the scoop!
What I loved:
The plot. I'll admit, I've never worked on a major studio before, but I have experience working in tv networks. It seemed dangerously accurate what goes on behind closed doors on sets and studios. That's world building in itself. Most of us aren't accustom to that celebrity lifestyle,so it does take a bunch of research to write about it, without it coming off as campy. I haven't read many books about actresses in YA categories, or in anything paranormal or SFF, so I thought the uniqueness of that kept my attention at all times.
It revealed action and information well, but I think it's setting up for a sequel? Because there were some questions left unanswered.
It wasn't predictable in one aspect of the book. That mirrors also what I didn't connect with, but I liked that the ending wasn't what I predicted, despite it's outcome.
I LOOOOVVVEDDD Dia. She so reminded me of me. Both my parents are Black-Latinos(Whilst she had one Latino parent and one African-American one) but I rarely read any books with Afro-Latino main characters.
When I do, they're done dangerously wrong, inaccurate, without knowledge of the experience, or mostly...JUST DONT EXIST.
I liked how the book addressed many of the micro aggressions Afro-Latinas face in, really any situation.
"Are You Black/Are You Latina?" As if there is little room to be both. I hate it when Afro-Latinas are depicted in a way where they neglect everything about having African ancestry, equating dark skin to "staying in the sun too long." Sounds ridiculous, but many of the afro-latinos I know still have these mindsets.
I also liked that even in this crazy situation, where zombies were infecting everyone, there was still room for humor in the story. Many times I stopped and chuckled, thinking "Yo, that's how I would've handled it" because you just know if a black chick was allowed to be the leading character in a horror themed ANYTHING, we'd have a totally different way of dealing with shit.
Just a thought, any time you want to write/pen a book featuring the sea of white folk, falling with sneakers on, breathing hard enough to wake the neighbors and then wonder why the hell the killer found them, or just waiting aimlessly for the killer to find you.
Conflict? How the heck can you consider fooling around with zombies not conflicting?
As far as the editing goes, I think I saw a few mistakes, but no more than a traditionally published book might make. If it's self published, you sure as hell can't tell. It's hard to talk about editing when it's done well. It's only a conversation when it's not.
I think the diversity is good. I think it could've been better. There were many people of color that were supporting characters, but I think because of the environment it was in, perhaps it was appropriate?
People of color tend to get our It girl's few and far between. I can name at least one It girl a year who's Caucasian, but with Asian, Latina, Black, or just women of color in general, we get one. But it sure as heck aint every year, and for the most part, there can usually only be one.
So I think Dia's representation is appropriate, as long as you know she works in a field with little diversity.
The title seems cool. It suggests that perhaps Dia's Latino heritage could possible be Mexican origins? At first I thought she was a non-Black Latina, which I would've been ok with(based of the title, and the fact Day of The Dead is mainly a Mexican holiday) but the zombies kinda seemed like they looked like the masks you typically wear in celebration of the Day of The Dead. Not down to a science, but similar.
The cover is cute. I always favor people in comparison to symbols on covers, but I think if I saw the cover, with that title, in a book store, I'd pick it up.
What I didn't connect with:
I think the ending. I liked that it wasn't what I expected, but I kept thinking everyone was going to jump out and scream "PUNK'D" and they'd have a laugh about it, as a publicity stunt to promote the show.
The zombies were real. The threat was real. Anytime you're dealing with a threat like this, it's hard to say whether it'll end well. There was so much loss for major characters, and Im not going lie. I was sad.
I wonder how the future of this series will end. Zombies don't usually give happily ever after outcomes.
I think I also would've liked more incite on why certain zombies had different behaviors. Perhaps it'll be explained with the future of the series, but I just had many unanswered questions.
My one complaint about the diversity, is that a few people of color died quickly off. Dia ended up being one of the few people of color who survived, and I couldn't help thinking with all the white folk(which were way more characters) why did the PoC die off first?
Also, Mason...He was a bit too conceited for my taste. He seemed super hot,but he was often too vain to "get" him. Dia's love interest Brandon was also, kind of eh for me. Maybe I just don't go crazy for blue eyed brunettes much. Totally biased though, because if he'd had brown eyes, I would've thought he was gorgeous XD Seems like all guys look the same in books.
Also, one aspect of Dia's development I wasn't crazy about. Her never having kissed a guy or anything. Granted, Im a hypocrite. I didn't get my first kiss until 18, and she's only 16. But I think with the changing culture of the youth these days, it's harder to find teenagers who haven't at least kissed a guy.
As Im getting older, Im just not crazy about the "virginal" heroine archetype. Just seems to rob girls of being in control of their sexuality, but that's just the feminist in me.
Also wasn't crazy about the character names, but I think it's because only Dia's was the one I remembered best. I always remember long, uncommon or ethnic names best, because they force you to pronounce or consider how to pronounce them correctly. They command something different that I don't think common/popular names do.
Overall I loved this book. I look really forward to the future of this series(if there will be) and anything that comes from this author!
There were a lot of characters, so I'll only dreamcast who I saw as the four central characters!
Dia may not have looked like this, but Joan Smalls was how I pictured her. They have a similar racial makeup, and Joan is really popular in the modeling world right now!