By: Gregg Hurwitz
My Rating: One out of Five Stars
Best for: Adults (Strong caution for parents)
When the middle-school literacy teacher recommends a book sold in the school book fair to your kids, you’re safe, right?
We learned that the hard way this week at my house. I always buddy read with my kids if they read a book I don’t know, so when my 6th-grader brought home The Rains because his literacy teacher recommended it as something he’d enjoy, I got myself a copy and jumped in.
And then jumped back out.
The Rains is a zombie book. Zombie books and I don’t typically get along, but occasionally one comes along that I actually enjoy–The Girl With All the Gifts, for example. I figured that a middle grade zombie story might be a cool thing.
Let me set the scene: aliens are attacking by sending asteroids crashing into Earth. These asteroids carry seeds of spore-producing plants that turn anyone over 17 into alien zombie slaves. Their mission: capture all the children.
Now, don’t get me wrong–I’ve read and enjoyed some violent books. But this is violence committed by and against children. That puts it on another level.
Some examples? Sure, why not.
This book includes parents and school teachers committing violence against children. Once scene includes a mother who captures a child, tears bloody patches of hair from her own head, and uses it as rope to tie the child up. The children are collected and kept in dog crates. They are transported on trucks like chickens in cages, and when they go around a cliff-side curve some of the crates fall off the truck and the children trapped inside scream in terror all the way to the bottom. Upon reaching their destination, the terrified and screaming children are strapped to a conveyor belt so the evil alien queen can, one-by-one, stab a needle into their bellies to a implant alien babies into their bellies which grow, causing the children’s abdomens to expand until they burst open. Literally. Screaming, desperate tears, and descriptive sounds like thump and squelch are used to describe this violence.
Children kill their own parents, school teachers, and friends in a variety of gruesome ways, including stabbing them through the skulls with hay bailing hooks, blowing their heads off with a shotgun pressed against foreheads, impaling them through the eyes with fireplace tongs, shooting them in the backs of their heads with a cattle prod, attacking them with a pack of large, frenzied dogs, and many, many more. Each of these violent acts include detailed descriptions of the acts and the results including blood splattering or pooling, bones crunching, and sinew tearing.
The children exposed to this extreme violence show very little remorse, and they are able to observe and commit extreme violence with out suffering trauma. This is an adult author exposing children to adult themes and adult violence they are not prepared to experience. It’s published by Tor Teen, so shame on the publisher as well.
Not to mention, the story is stupid, deux ex machina is the first choice of conflict resolution, plot holes abound, and many other problems I don’t care to waste any more time explaining.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to write an email to my child’s middle-school literacy teacher.
Don’t let your kids read this book.
Happy Reading (of something else).