Zombie Baseball Beatdown
by Paolo Bacigalupi
Little, Brown, and Company, 2013. 292 pgs. Horror
More than the zombies take a beating in Bacigalupi's first book for younger readers. His hit list includes meat processing plants who exploit their workers and put consumer safety last; high-priced, slick-as-snakes lawyers; current immigration law and ignorant public opinion. Rabinadrath Chaterjee-Jones (aka Rabi) plays baseball on a team with friends Miguel and Joe, and enemies Sammy and Bart. Sammy's dad owns Milrow Meats where almost everyone in town works. Mysterious really bad smells having been coming from the factory lately, and some workers seem very fearful. Others, like Miguel's parents, and then his aunt and uncle, have been deported. Soon Miguel and Rabi are being chased by their zombified baseball coach and then by zombie cows, mooing for brains. Worse still, the boys sneak into the Milrow factory where the zombie cows are being chopped into hamburger and shipped out, their still-animate heads left behind. As you can tell, Zombie Baseball Beatdown is not for the faint of stomach, though I know a number of young boys who will relish the gore (you'll excuse the expression) and learn important lessons about fairness and honor. Bacigalupi spends a bit too much time grinding his own axes (another expression you'll need to excuse) about immigration, food safety, and big corporations who care only for money--the kids will get it sooner than he thinks they will--but this is still a quick, sometimes funny version of the zombie apocalypse as it plays out in Middle America.