Shaun and Toby live in Honeywell Springs, the “Honey Bee Capital of the
World”, which is something 13 year old Shaun is not delighted about,
having this “thing” about the buzzers. It is Founders Day where everyone
dresses up like bees and wear black and gold. But before the festival
starts, Shaun must make a grocery delivery to Dr. Romero (get it?) who
is doing secret experiments with bees. Dr. Romero’s genetically altered
bees, being the size of chihuahuas, have escaped and are headed to the
town’s festival. It is up to Toby and the melissophobic Shaun to warn
the town. Did I mention that the sting of these dog sized bees turn
people into zombies? Did I need to mention that considering the title of
Geared at the young adult and maybe slighter younger crowd, Night of the ZomBEEs
by Kevin David Anderson is one of the funniest zombie novels I have
read in a while. Anderson is no stranger to the satiric sci-fi/horror
comedy having previously written Night of the Living Trekkies.
In his major protagonists, he gives us two smart but picked-on nerds in
Shaun and Toby and teams them with Samantha aka Sam. She is usually a
bully to the two “Dweebs” but Shaun has a secret crush on her. Shaun and
Toby provides the very smart dialogue while Sam gives the team its
tension. The dialogue is one of the best things about the book. It is
sharp but still sounds early teen. The adults are a different matter.
Like many YA books of this variety, the adults are there as fodder for
the disaster and a sounding board for the kids’ eventual one-upsmanship.
It is no spoiler in a YA book like this to say the kids save the day.
How they save the day is where the fun is.
Yet as an adult, I
found it quite amusing as long as I let my inner child wander a bit.
There are plenty of references to chuckle at for both the adult and teen
zombie movie fan. Remember Dr. Romero? I also learned how to play
“Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock. (Spock vaporizes rock but lizard
poisons Spock). Since Shaun and Toby are James Bond fans, we also get
plenty of references to the secret agent as they argue if they are
really brave enough, or stupid enough, to try what they are thinking of
I can’t say that Night of the ZomBEEs explores
any new territory. It follows the tried and true zombie format fairly
closely. Yet there is a large measure of FUN in capital letters that
makes this story work. There is violence of the B-Movie zombie variety
but it never goes into what I consider gore. Actually I would have no
trouble recommending this to the Tween category which I suspect it was
written for rather than the broader “12-18” age range. Night of the ZomBEEs
is an imaginative romp through both the zombie and mutated animal
genres that succeeds on wit and imagination. Recommended for all zombie
fans, adult and teens alike.