Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

The (Tasty) Pleasures Of The Flesh

With Eat, Brains, Love, author Jeff Hart manages to do the unthinkable: make zombies interesting again.

The (Tasty) Pleasures Of The Flesh

BOOK REPORT for Eat, Brains, Love by Jeff Hart

Cover Story: Unappetizing
BFF Charm: Yay x 2
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: He Said, She Said
Bonus Factors: Zombies, Government Conspiracy
Relationship Status: I Dig Your Brains

Cover Story: Unappetizing

Hey look, french fries and gummi worms! Don't mind if I do-- AUUGHH IS THAT BLOOD? Wait, no, it's ketchup. That has to be ketchup. Because, I mean, cafeteria food's bad, but it's not THAT bad. Right? Um... you know what, I just realized that I'm not actually hungry.

All ickiness aside, pants to this cover for capturing the tongue in cheek spirit of the book while being accurate to the story, since the first zombie attack occurs in the high school cafeteria.

But also, GROSS.

The Deal:

Jake Stephens' ideal day involves video games, fast food and some good weed. What it doesn't include is chowing down on his friends or being pursued by the U.S. government. But after Jake suddenly turns into a zombie and kills a sizable chunk of the senior class, his priorities in life drastically change (and not just when it comes to brains). With fellow zombie and former queen bee Amanda Blake by his side, Jake hits the road to find a cure before the authorities, led by a teen psychic named Cass, track him down.

 BFF Charm: Yay x 2

Jake totally cracks my shizz up. He's a dry, cynical stoner who ironically transforms into a better person once he's a zombie, because he's forced to actually care about things. Beneath his apathetic (and undead) exterior, he's a good dude, but he's still such a dude, and that's actually what charmed me the most. Even after his entire world changes and he can't stop craving human flesh, his biggest concern is whether or not Amanda thinks he's cool. Which is both incredibly lame and incredibly sweet.

Jake, for the record, I think you're cool, and I would totally take a road trip with you. Quick question, though: besties don't eat besties, right?

No offense to my buddy Jake, but Cass is the real hero of this story. Plucked away from her family and ensconced in a secret agency, she's exploited for her psychic ability, and her life, like Jake's, bares little resemblance to a typical teenage existence. While her peers are flirting in class or doing homework, Cass is hunting zombies by following their mental signature, and her closest friend is a twenty-something guy that gets paid to be her handler. She's incredibly smart and understandably independent, but even after witnessing the aftermath of dozens of zombie attacks, she hasn't lost her humanity. Cass is a tough cookie, to be sure, but she's also sensitive, which makes her courage even more commendable.

Girl, I would hang with you any time, and the government can keep their money, cos I'd do it for free. (But, I mean, if they want to give me money, I won't stop them.)

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

The problem with a guy narrator is that his romantic thoughts always involve boobs. Jake's burgeoning feelings for Amanda are certainly in earnest, and he's not just trying to get into her pants but... he's definitely trying to get into her pants. 

Thankfully, we have a female perspective in the mix, and Cass' increasing connection to Jake hints at the potential for tingles in the sequel.*

*Oh yeah, there's a sequel. But it comes out this month! So we don't have to spend a year waiting for it, unlike the poor fools who picked this up as a new release.

Talky Talk: He Said, She Said

I'm not a dude, obviously, but Jake's voice feels straight up legit to me. From the first page, his narration is intimate and compelling, not to mention darkly funny. Take, for example, his thoughts on the school's career test:

Of course now I know for sure that test was total bullshit.

There weren't any questions about cannibalism, or fleeing government hit squads, or picking the perfect sound track for a road trip/car chase. Of the fifty possible career recommendations, none of them were "undead fugitive."

You can't figure out life from a Scantron test. I devoured a good portion of my graduating class during lunch in the cafeteria. That sucked for me and I'm aware that it sucked even more for the students at Ronald Reagan.

Or his description of his little sister:

Kelly looked over at me and made a gagging noise, but that was nothing new; Kelly spends half of her life being disgusted at one thing or another. She's twelve. It's her hobby.

The chapters alternate between Jake and Cass' perspectives, and while I didn't find Cass' voice to be quite as strong as Jake's, it was still dynamic and unique to her character. With snappy pacing and punchy dialogue, this is a book that you can devour just as easily as a Jake can consume a human leg.

Bonus Factor: Zombies

I'll be honest, I was totally over the whole zombie thing. I still am! But this book managed to make zombies interesting again by taking a Warm Bodies approach and subverting the cliché.

Bonus Factor: Government Conspiracy

Thanks to all of the Friday nights I spent watching The X-Files as a teen**, I love me a good government conspiracy. And Cass' agency hits all the right notes, with ludicrious coverups, secret experiments and a creepy, mysterious leader named Alistaire.

**Yeah, my social life was HOPPIN'.

Casting Call:

Nat Wolff as Jake

Tavi Gevinson as Cass

Rose McIver as Amanda

I mean, we already know that she looks good even as a zombie.

Relationship Status: I Dig Your Brains

Book, I like the way you think. You're clever, you're engaging and you've got a sick sense of humor. I'm glad I'm not a member of the walking dead, because I wouldn't be able to resist chewing up your awesome brains, and that might scare off your sequel, which I fully intend on eating. I mean, meeting.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from HarperTeen. I received neither cocktails nor money in exchange for this review. Eat, Brains, Love is available now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).