YA Review: BAD HAIR DAY by Carrie Harris

BAD TASTE IN BOYS was the first zombie book I’ve ever read, and I loved it. I would have written a review, but it fell in that Christmas vacation window. Since the sequel was already out, I demanded that my library purchase it, so now I get to talk about BAD HAIR DAY instead.

I read this book in one day. One day. It helps that it’s shorter than most YA novels, but the point is that I couldn’t put it down. If you haven’t read the first book, even the description gives some spoilers for BAD TASTE IN BOYS, so you should stop reading now. And my review will definitely have spoilers from the first book but none for the second.

Ok, here we go:

Bad Hair Day by Carrie HarrisKate Grable is geeked out to shadow the county medical examiner as part of her school’s premed program. But after he’s arrested for murder, she’s left with the bodies. And when Kate’s brother, Jonah, stumbles upon a dead gamer girl, Kate realizes that the zombie epidemic she cured last fall was only the beginning of the weirdness taking over her town. Someone—or something—is murdering kids. Something really hairy. And strong. Possibly with claws.

Could it be werewolves, like Jonah and his dorktastic friends think? Kate’s supposed to be a butt-kicking, zombie-killing genius . . . but if she can’t figure out what’s behind the freakish attacks, the victims—or what’s left of them—are going to keep piling up.

And the five things I loved most are:

1. It’s not really supernatural – That’s only a spoiler if you haven’t read the first book. In BAD TASTE IN BOYS, it turns out the zombies aren’t really zombies. They’ve been infected with a virus that attacks the brain and makes them look and act like zombies. I fully expected there would be a scientific explanation for the “werewolves” and there is. And I love the way Carrie Harris weaves in what we know about werewolves–hairy, a connection to silver, etc.–and explains it all. So clever.

2. The sibling relationship – Kate and Jonah are such a great representation about how you can drive each other crazy but when it comes down to it, you’d give up your life for them. Jonah started out as an annoying pest in the first book, and I really enjoyed how they grew closer in this book. She knows her brother has her back.

3. The setup – So how likely is it that Kate would cure a zombie virus and then she’d be in the right place to solve a werewolf epidemic, too? I don’t care! Maybe she’s on the Hellmouth of scientific freakiness. In any case, having her work for a medical examiner was the perfect way to kick off the story, and her previous connection with Detective Despain allows her some freedom with her investigation. I love the way Carrie Harris gives a little dig at the improbabilities toward the end of the book. As far as I’m concerned, bring on the vampires for the next book!

4. She’s still just a teenage girl – So maybe Kate’s a super-geek who knows way more about medicine than anyone else her age, but she’s still just a girl, too. She worries about what’s going on with her boyfriend as much as she does solving the murders and finding a cure for the werewolf issue. Because the hot girl stalking your boyfriend is equally important, right? Sure it is. I believe it. It makes Kate an authentic teenager.

5. It’s definitely not easy – As a writer, I often get the advice that I’m being too easy on my characters. That’s definitely not the case here. Kate gets thrown into a wall, jumped by her boyfriend’s stalker, attacked by a werewolf, electrocuted … and that’s not all. Wow. I don’t know how she keeps going, but I believed she could while I was reading, so it’s well done, and it’s what kept me from putting the book down.

I’m not kidding about the vampire thing. I want to see Kate stake a vampire with one of Jonah’s pseudoswords. And I want to see what kind of scientific explanation Carrie Harris can come up with to explain a person who starts living on blood instead of food.

Have you read this series? What do you like about it?

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