Zombie Baseball Beatdown, by Paolo Bacigalupi
If you've got readers clamoring for the gruesome, then look no further: This book is so gross! SO GROSS! Lots of gore, lots of poop, lots of hideous goings-on at the local slaughterhouse and meat-packing plant. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few young omnivores go vegetarian after reading it.
What would you do if the zombie apocalypse started in your own town? Middle school baseball players Rabi, Miguel, and Joe don't just fight for their lives, they try to follow in the footsteps of their hero Spider Jerusalem—the fact that they were Transmetropolitan fans made me shriek with joy—to reveal the corruption and greed that caused it, as well as the people who are still trying to cover it up.
Holy cow, for a small book, it deals with a LOT of stuff, and it deals with it in depth. The banter between the boys is excellent and funny, as are the dynamics of their friendship: they always have each others' backs, there's complete trust and affection there, and they all know how to play to each others' strengths.
They all have large issues to contend with—Rabi is the main target of a racist bully on their team, Miguel's parents have been deported due to their immigration status and lives in fear of the rest of his family being picked up next, and Joe's father is a mean drunk—but while the issues certainly have a bearing on the storyline and on their worldviews, they're dealt with in a pretty matter-of-fact, non-preachy way. The immigration storyline, especially, was well-handled: Bacigalupi doesn't get into the politics, he just tells a story in which a kid has to deal with a situation that is (and has always been) completely out of his hands, but that has a direct impact on his future. Basically, Bacigalupi focuses on people, rather than on policy. Interwoven into all of it is a dark thread about money equaling power, but it does end on a hopeful note that suggests that information, knowledge, and—this is so awesome—STORY will eventually punch through it all.
It won't be for everyone—like I said, SO GROSS—but I really enjoyed it.
My Boyfriend is a Monster #1: I Love Him to Pieces, by Evonne Tsang and Janina Görrissen
These books are new to me: according to the website, it's a series of stand-alone horror/romance graphic novels. In this first one, high school softball star Dicey Bell and science geek/gamer Jack get paired up for a class project, sparks fly, and then they have to team up to fight a zombie uprising. So it looks like it's the old Opposites Attract And Have To Find A Way To Contend With Their Differences Amid Unrelated Chaos storyline. Of which I am a fan, so I'm going to pick it up soon.
Can you think of any others?