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Book Review: Zombie Tetherball by Terry Taylor Hobbs [Dec. 6th, 2015|11:29 am]

Zombie Tetherball Kindle Edition
Terry Taylor Hobbs
Publisher: Terry Taylor Hobbs; 1 edition (August 27, 2015)

This review by Wes Britton first appeared at BookPleasures.com at:

To begin, I must confess I’ve never been a zombie fan. I haven’t watched any zombie films or TV shows or played any of the games. I’ve only read one previous zombie novel, and that was a Walking Dead tie-in I read to have the opportunity to interview someone associated with the TV series for an online radio show I used to co-host. Prepping for that interview, I learned there’s not much to say about zombies themselves. It’s the human characters that are interesting as they cope with the mindless, relentless threats to their humanity and individuality. I forget who said this first, but zombies can be seen as metaphors for our real-world worries about pressures to conform to society’s “norms” or represent our resentment against those who have power over our lives.

Still, I was intrigued by the title, Zombie Tetherball. What could that mean? I suspected a sense of humor was involved. Well, not so much. The story opens when Liz, a resident of the very ordinary town of Copper Creek, suddenly meets neighbors who seem to have gone crazy. Trying to find help, she’s rescued by the band of Alan, Matt, Justin, and Keiko who tell Liz all power in the area is out and that “biters” are trying to kill everyone. The group all go to a local elementary school for shelter and it becomes their fortress for most of the book.

In that fortress, we see a group somewhat secure in their calm, quiet comradery trying to find simple ways to occupy their long hours. Many times, I thought I was experiencing an episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits as those classic shows offered similar stories of strangers forced to come together in ordinary settings surrounded by extraordinary challenges. I came to wonder if author Hobbs saw that school as her own metaphor. After all, most of her chapter titles are school related—“School Supplies,” “First Bell,” “Home Schooling,” “Hall Pass,” and the names of many classes all students take. No doubt, tetherball must also be symbolic of something. Some of the group enjoys the sport as a way of passing the time, but Hobbs must have something larger in mind. My suspicion is that a tetherball has a limited reach because it’s tied to a central pole, and perhaps Hobbs is saying the group is likewise constrained in their self-imposed confinement.

Along the way, we come to know the characters both by watching their interactions with each other and the occasional memories they share about their previous lives. Naturally, their relationships change as time goes by. Those who didn’t think much of other members when they first came together will come to forge friendships. Liz and Justin have an unlikely romance, something they admit probably wouldn’t have happened in normal circumstances. Of course, this time of seclusion must come to an end as the zombies outside finally find ways to break into the school and the group thinks they have discovered a plan to end the scourge. The tether must be broken.

Zombie Tetherball is a well-written, fast-paced yarn that should appeal even to those not enamored with the zombie apocalypse. Instead, we meet five very sympathetic folks who each have their own depths and strengths. It’s an ideal YA book, even if some of the trapped students in Cooper Creek elementary are parents and not young heroes. I’m glad I met them in their school of life, even if I’m equally glad I wasn’t a member of their class myself.

Check out Wes Britton’s Beta-Earth Chronicles at: