I’m a bit of a control freak. I like it when things are organized and orderly and make sense. But, as you know, those things don’t really jive too well with the real world. We don’t always get to have what we want. Things don’t always happen for a reason. And, as Schmendrick the Magician points out in Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, “There are no happy endings, because nothing ends.”
Except that’s not entirely true. Novels end. Sure, the story continues. But that’s off-screen. The main plot of the novel is concluded. Characters learn their lessons, or don’t. Readers are left with a sense of satisfaction, of completion.
A novel is like a terrarium. It’s a miniature world in which we can observe life on a smaller scale. Most of the time our own lives aren’t so organized. It’s hard to know the point to our lives, because usually, there are multiple points. And those change.
Novels, on the other hand, get to be focused. They can zero in on a central theme and follow it to an inevitable conclusion. In a way, we get to live vicariously through the characters. Their lives get to have meanings that are easier to figure out.
Writers get to be the gods of those worlds. We get to have control over them in a way we never can in the real world. If used properly, that can be extremely therapeutic. Think about it: we have a built-in universe in which to test out and explore our own ideas and issues. Our characters can act out various scenarios and we get see what the reactions will be before we have to commit to them in our own lives.
I don’t think most of us do this consciously. But the issues we’re grappling with often work their way into our stories. And sometimes that’s enough distance for us to recognize the possible solutions. Therapy is all about helping someone figure out the answers to their own questions. Through writing we get the release of airing our issues, the commiseration/camaraderie of relating to others (even fictional others) with similar issues, and the relief of knowing they can be solved.
Max McKay gets a second chance at life when, after a bizarre accident on his sixteenth birthday, he is reanimated as a new breed of thinking, feeling zombie. To secure a spot for his eternal soul, Max must use his video game prowess as well as the guidance of Steve the Death God to make friends and grow up.
As if all that weren’t hard enough, Max discovers that he’s not the only zombie in town. As he enlists the help of his new friends, Adam and Penny, to solve the mystery of their un-dead classmate, Max discovers that he must level up his life experience in order to survive the trials and terrors of the upcoming zombie apocalypse. And, even worse, high school.
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Genre – YA
Rating – PG
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