About the Book

Title: Sick
Published: 2013
Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Cover Story: C’est Chic
BFF Charm: Eventually
Talky Talk: Bloody Play-By-Play
Bonus Factors: Zombies, Lord of the Flies, Diversity
Relationship Status: Lust at First Sight That Got Friendzoned

Cover Story: C’est Chic

Do you ever wish that you could just break into song like you’re in a musical? Because I do all the time. Or, OK — at least for situations that warrants it, like when I see this cover. Because it makes me AHHHHHHHH FREAK OUT! Once I saw it, I obvi had to read this book and desperately hope that it lives up to its amazeballs cover. I’ll even give it a pass for the corny tagline. (Oh, who am I kidding? I love the corny tagline, too.)

The Deal:

The day starts off like any other: Brian and his friends are skipping class, when they start getting word of some sort of outbreak. By the time they get back to their high school, the outbreak has def. caught up with their classmates — their now vicious, flesh-eating classmates. Fortch, Brian and his best bud, Chad, have found safety in the theatre department. Although the same can’t be said for Brian’s sister, Kenzie, or his ex-girlfriend, Laura, both of whom Brian is determined to find — before an infected someone else finds them first.

BFF Charm: Eventually

BFF Charm with a sweatband on

It took me a while to warm up to Brian, even though he received auto points from positive name association with this guy. He’s kind of worried that he’s an asshole, although he’s not a particularly entertaining or compelling asshole to begin with. But you know how adversity tends to reveal someone’s true character? The brave Brian that’s desperately clinging onto his humanity in the midst of all this violence and anarchy — that guy would be my BFF, for sure.

And you know that entertaining and compelling kind of asshole I was referring to? That’s so Chad; he’s funny and he has some of the best lines. He’s a bit too fluent in Junior Bro-speak (in terms of dick talk, not misogyny) for me to get serious with, but I’m not as discerning when it comes to my friends with benefits.

I also have to give a shout-out to Jaime, the theatre tech who steps up big time as the de facto leader. He’s way competent, and I’d gladly follow him during a zombie apocalypse. So, y’know, I’d be free to FLIP SHIZZ OMG ZOMBIES.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

I’m being generous, just because Brian is risking literal life and limb for his ex, Laura. But the focus of their relationship is more on what went wrong — Brian not being as supportive of Laura’s anxiety problems as he could have been — rather than what went right. There are a few other couples (including one that makes the most of what little time they may have left, if you know what I mean), but none that really made me swoon.

Talky Talk: Bloody Play-By-Play

This book doesn’t play around, y’all. It’s super direct, and it doesn’t shy away from the occasional gross imagery. Like, why’d you have to bring up barbecued ribs, Book? I’d say that you ruined them for me, but we both know that’s not true. NOTHING can ruin you, barbecued ribs.

(Though on a related note: there’s a overweight character who makes a lot of fat and food jokes at his own expense. While the other characters don’t join in or laugh at any of them, it’s just kind of uncomfortable. And more importantly, they’re not even good jokes.)

Anyway, this book is marketed as The Breakfast Club meets The Walking Dead, which is only accurate in the sense of high school kids plus zombies. The two main cliques that get together are Brian’s friends and the theatre kids, so there isn’t really a Jock or a Princess — or a lot of girls in general, since the book is pretty much a sausage fest. It resembles The Walking Dead more, due to the group of survivors banding together (minus the shittiness of TWD). But thankfully, Brian trying to find the girls didn’t remind me of TWD‘s tedious Sophia plot.

Speaking of the girls, I did find the sitch to be kind of damsel-y. It wasn’t highly problematic, since it’s not like these girls need to be saved just because they’re girls. The book does have a few female characters who are capable of taking care of themselves, but none are prominently involved in the rescue mission. I wouldn’t want there to be a shoehorned, I-can-fight-too token girl on the team (ahem, Andrea — last TWD reference, I swear!). But has Milla Jovovich taught us nothing? Ladies are great at killing zombies!

Bonus Factor: Zombies

A man and woman with a baby are dressed up like zombies

I really want to like zombies, but I just don’t think it’s meant to be. (Not a fault of this book; I just have a lot of probs with zombie logic.) While this book doesn’t really bring anything new to zombie lore, the characters struggle with seeing people they know suddenly becoming monsters. However, these kids took a surprisingly long-ass time to bring up the Z-word, which seemed pretty unrealistic. As unrealistic as a zombie book can be, I mean.

Bonus Factor: Lord of the Flies

Young boys standing around a pile of sticks trying to start a fire from the movie Lord of the Flies

Jaime even makes this reference; isolated from the outside world, the kids in the theatre quickly descend into chaos. It brings up the intriguing idea of who the real monsters are.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Faces of all different races, ethnicities and genders.

As an extension of how very direct this book is, it basically states the race of everyone that appears. It’s probably an extremely close depiction of how real people think — like, if you see a heavy Black girl, you notice that they’re a heavy Black girl — but I’m just not used to narration being so, well, black and white. 

Relationship Status: Lust at First Sight That Got Friendzoned

Even though this book is really, really, ridiculously good looking, I just didn’t feel that spark. It’s not really my type; the more I got to know it, the more apparent the mismatch of our personalities became. I wouldn’t go out of my way to save it in the zombie apocalypse, but we can at least peacefully co-exist in the survivors’ camp.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Amulet Books. I received neither money nor froyo for writing this review (dammit!). Sick is available now.

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.