“All over the country, a strange phenomenon is happening. Some teenagers who die aren’t staying dead. They are coming back to life, but they are no longer the same — they stutter, and their reactions to everything are slower. Termed ‘living impaired’ or ‘differently biotic,’ they are doing their best to fit into a society that doesn’t want them.”
I’ve been raving about this book to anyone who’ll listen. Why?
Well, it could be because Generation Dead is a good story, period. It’s well written, fast-paced, and spits the first novel syndrome in the eye. Or it could be because you become so emotionally invested in the multi-dimensional characters Waters created. Mostly, though, it’s because this novel conveys its message without becoming preachy or didactic.
See, these “differently biotic” kids are under prejudicial fire; there is no way they can hide their differences, even if they wanted to, and their struggle to fit in only serves to tip the balance in the opposite direction. The “normal” students of Oakvale High simply do not want them there. Pejoratives fill the hallways of the school, snickering echoes of “corpsicles” or “worm buffets” follow the differently biotic students to each class, and it escalates to the point of horrifying violence.
Not all of the students, however, try to isolate the differently biotic; attempts at friendship are made, but those overtures place the living kids in danger, as well, as intolerance inflames the situation.
This novel is many things: thought-provoking, heartbreaking, hopeful, and rewarding on multiple levels. Along with that, though, it opens up the possibility of dialogue between parents and their teenagers as, I believe, this novel will speak more to them about acceptance than any lecture or school assembly ever could, and it will reach them on an emotional, accessible playing field.
And, in case you were wondering, despite its nature (which is half the appeal, no doubt, to teens,) Generation Dead is not creepy. Unsettling, yes, in the way that any novel dealing with prejudice of any sort is, but these aren’t horror b-movie zombies. They’re just kids trying to take advantage of a second shot at life.