“Devil’s Wake”

By Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due

“Devil’s Wake,” the inaugural book in a new series, shows promise.

What kicks off the zombie apocalypse? The combination of a flu vaccine made to combat a new strain of the illness and a special mushroom that dieters take to suppress their appetite.

The book opens just as things start to go awry, much to the bewilderment of teenager Kendra and a group of juvenile offenders who are serving their time by working at a summer camp. Kendra and the other teens eventually cross paths and join forces to find a safe place in a world overrun by zombies.

I applaud the book’s racial diversity and that the story is told from the perspective of young adults. I also didn’t find “Devil’s Wake” as gory as other zombie fiction I’ve read, which might make it more tolerable for those who don’t relish blood and guts.

There was greater emphasis placed on the internal life of the characters — their concerns about family members, anxieties, confusion and connections to each other.

Toward the end, the authors introduce a supernatural element that I didn’t feel was necessary, but that’s a minor quibble.

I enjoyed “Devil’s Wake” and look forward to the next installment in the series.