Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Book Talk - The Queen of Zombie Hearts

***Spoiler Alert***
You know me, I always like to talk about things that happen in the book.  So, if you haven't read the book yet and want to be surprised, wait to read this review.  However, if you don't mind a few spoilers, read on!

I *just* finished reading The Queen of Zombie Hearts, the third and final book in The White Rabbit Chronicles, by Gena Showalter.  It was published this year, so I feel like I am actually on top of things, since I haven't been reading a lot of books in the year they are published!

In case you haven't read the first two books in the series (Alice in Zombieland and Through the Zombie Glass) let's refresh your memory of who the characters are:

-Alice Bell: the main female character, the one around whom these stories are based
-Cole Holland: Ali's apparently super hot boyfriend
-Kat: Ali's best friend

And the minor-ish yet still important characters:
-Mr. Holland
-Mr. Ankh

Characters that appear only in this book:
-Mrs. Smith

The book opens on Ali, Mackenzie and Kat sitting at Choco Loco, a chocolate store where they hang out sometimes.  While there, three boys start giving them the eye.  The boys send over these things called mousse shooters, which the girls love.  While they are pretending to flirt with the boys and get Mackenzie some love, Frosty shows up to hang all over Kat.  Even though the two fight all the time, they've been together for a while.  Ali asks where Cole is, and when she's told that he is at a tattoo parlor they often go to, she leaves to see him.  He's not there as promised, but Ali decides to get two new tattoo's while she's there.

When Ali leaves, she goes home and finds Cole at the house.  They start making out - Ali trying to convince Cole to have sex with her already - and then gunshots start going off everywhere.  Ali and Cole try to get out of the room to find out what's happening, but Cole gets shot through the shoulder.  This leads to Ali and Cole searching for their friends because the are told that there has been an attack on every slayer (by Anima) in an attempt to end the slayers.

Throughout the rest of the night they find out that four of their friends are dead and one is missing.  The next day, they have a meeting to try and figure out how they are going to find Justin - the still missing friend.  They are told he is at an Anima warehouse, but when they go to find him, the warehouse is empty sans a bunch of old, collared zombies in the basement.  They fight the zombies - ashing them all.  In the process, they find out that Ali has a new special ability - she can use her arms and lift all the zombies up in the air to get them out of the way of slayers, thus making them easier to ash.

Now, here's the trippy part - Ali gains this power from a woman named Helen.  Helen is what the slayers call a witness.  A Witness is a zombie that has been turned into a spirit and can talk to the living and, in some cases, help them.  But, Helen is not your ordinary witness.  She was a former ally to Anima and, in a real twist, is also Ali's birth mother.  Phillip - Ali's dad - was dating Helen before he met her cousin, who he later ended up marrying.  When he broke up with Helen to date Ali's "mom," Helen was already pregnant with Ali - who we learn was originally named Samantha (nicknamed Sami.)

Ali was forced by Helen to undergo all sorts of tests held by Anima.  Helen was responsible for the death of Cole's mother, as well.  When Ali was 5, Helen brought her to Phillip, finally telling him that Ali was his daughter.  Phillip took Ali in, renaming her Alice Bell.  Phillip and his wife raised Alice as their own, all the while knowing that she was not her "mothers" daughter.  Before Ali went to live with her family, Helen performed a memory wipe, covering her memories prior to age 5.

Ali is the only slayer who can see Helen now, and Helen makes it obvious that she doesn't want anyone else to see her.  When Cole hears about Ali being able to see Helen and talk to her, he gets very upset and forbids Ali from talking to Helen again.  Ali doesn't listen, of course, and it leads to a lot of mistrust between Cole and Ali, who both hurt each other because of the lack of faith they have in each other.  They realize after fighting about it major that they do trust each other after all and are willing to put Helen to the side, but it takes Ali almost dying to realize it.

And speaking of Ali almost dying, let's talk about Camilla and Juliana.  Juliana is Veronica's younger sister.  Camilla is River's sister.  Now, a little story about Camilla and River - Cole's gang meets them when they are trying to fight Anima.  They go to River's house, Ali fights some zombies in a pit in the ground, and Camilla realizes she has total lady wood for Cole.  It doesn't matter to Camilla that Cole is with Ali and very obviously in love with her.  Camilla wants Cole to herself.  So, she devises this plan to get Ali drugged and kidnapped by Anima.  Anima had originally wanted to trade Ali for Justin, but all of Ali's friends said no, not going to happen.  So they came up with another plan.  They were going to try and trick Anima so that they could get Justin back and keep Ali.  But, then when Ali and Cole were fighting, he told her to make the switch.  He realized how stupid that was later, and they went back to their original plan.  So, they came up with a plan to get Justin and screw Anima, but while they were doing that, Camilla was planning  a way to trick and drug Ali so that Anima could take Ali and Camilla could have Cole all to herself.

While they were at the warehouse trying to fight zombies, Anima was waiting outside.  Camilla told Ali that they had Kat.  Ali, being a very protective best friend, rushed out, only to be hit by Anima and almost dragged away, all while being drugged.  Ali managed to reconnect her body and spirit, then ran back inside, telling Cole, River and everyone else what had happened.  Camilla fessed up to what she did, begrudgingly, and River held a gun to her chest and told her he was going to kill her.  Ali could have had every reason to let River kill Camilla, but instead she tells River that she can wipe Camilla's memory.  This is exactly what she does, which leads to Camilla not remembering anything about who she is or what she's done.

After Camilla's memory has been wiped and everything at the warehouse is sorted out, everyone splits for their own places.  Ali and Cole spend the night in Cole's room, him healing Ali through the night with his fire.  Just as things seem like they are looking up, Ali notices that Helen is outside and two Hazmats are trying to close in on her and take her.  Apparently they think Helen is a flesh and bones human, not spirit.  As Ali is watching this, there are exploding noises all over the house.  Ali and Cole run from their room to find that bombs are exploding and destroying the Ankh's house.

Ali and Cole make it outside in time, where they find some of their friends waiting.  They start searching for people who are missing, and find Mr. Ankh dead.  They keep searching for Kat, who they eventually find buried under a pile of rubble from the explosions.  She dies shortly after being found.  Ali is immensely crushed by this death and without even telling anyone, she walks away from the wreckage, surrenders herself to Anima and meets the infamous Mrs. Smith.  Ali gets taken to an Anima facility, where she finally finds Justin.  She gets locked in a cage next to his, but is somehow able to open the cage and free Justin.  He leaves to find his friends and Ali locks herself back in her cage.

While in this testing facility, Mrs. Smith - first name Rebecca - wipes Ali's memories so that she believes she is still Sami.  Ali is used as a test for zombies over and over again.  The zombies are put in a cage with her, where they bite her and are turned into witnesses.  This goes on and on until finally Cole and friends break into this facility and find Ali.  They are able to free her and wipe Mrs. Smith's memory.  Cole and his gang spend time trying to recover Ali and get her memories back.  The cover on her mind finally breaks when she and Cole are in her room, and he refuses to leave.  He is touching her, kissing her, trying to be with her and her cover breaks.  The next day, at Kat's funeral/celebration of life, Ali sees Kat and Emma's spirits and is finally able to gain some closure.

Now, overall, I think this is a great book.  I think that each character was really well-rounded and distinct.  They each had their own personalities and attitudes.  This book was definitely much, much better than the first book in the series (which was still good!)  I loved the tension between Ali, Camilla and Juliana.  I loved watching Ali develop her relationship with Cole and get to know who she really was.  I especially loved that when Juliana admitted that she and Camilla had put the bombs in the house to try and kill Ali so that Camilla could really get to Cole, Cole kicked Juliana and Veronica to the curb and told them never to come back.

BUT, there was one thing that bothered me - Cole kept acting like he was in control of Ali and kept threatening to spank her if she didn't listen to him.  This just about ruined the book for me.  My thoughts are - no man should ever be in control of the woman he is dating or even threaten to hit her in any way, shape or form.  There is no reason for a man to act like that towards a woman.  That aspect of this book could have easily been removed entirely (and in fact should have been.)  Other than that, I say give the book a read - Gena Showalter doesn't disappoint.

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