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Book Review: Young writer brings laughs and gore

Layout 1Michael Saakyan
Book Editor

Their skin is decomposed and smells rancid. The expression on their face looks like they were punched in the face with a shovel. They can’t think, they can’t run and they live on a well-balanced diet of brains. These creatures are zombies and there has recently been an outbreak of them in Los Angeles. The first person to get caught up in the middle of the zombie apocalypse is teenager Cassie Fremont.

“Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of)” is the debut novel of young adult, fantasy, sci-fi, and horror fiction writer F.J.R. Titchenell.

She started college at Cal State Los Angeles by the age of 14, and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Titchenell used to write young adult books within the fantasy genre but switched over to horror and sci-fi due to her love of Harry Potter.

Before she got comfortable sharing her stories she spent eight years studying theater.

 Spawn of the Dead

Cassie Fremont is not the average teenage girl. She likes video games, paintball and anything that does not conform her to gender stereotypes.

One afternoon Cassie and her counselor friends took a break from guiding a group of scouts to go paintball shooting in a field. Cassie teams up with her crush, Mark, as they play opposite Norman and Hector. With all the fun and excitement of splattered colors of paintball flying everywhere, Cassie strikes Mark with friendly fire.

He is hit so severely by the paintball pallet that it knocks the life out of him. As the friends hurdle around Mark in a distraught phase, Cassie checks for any sign of life but sees none.

Things begin to get strange when Mark starts to move and make weird noises. Cassie looks into his eyes and can see death lingering inside him. Mark is dead and is slowly transitioning into a zombie. Cassie must act fast, she bludgeons Mark’s skull with the paintball gun killing the zombie before it could unleash its insanity.

The police arrive and see Cassie with Mark’s dead body, her hands covered in blood and Mark’s brain splattered everywhere. They take her to a juvenile detention center where she is charged with the murder of her crush.

Escape from juvie

It’s the following day and Cassie still cannot get in contact with her parents. Just how long is she going to be stuck in jail for killing a zombie?

She beings to keep herself occupied by watching television and sees a Korean news show talking about something relating to a zombie apocalypse. Unable to tell what the news coverage is about, she flips through the channels trying to get insight on this zombie outbreak.

Just then as one of the police officers opens the door to leave the station, a hurdle of zombies swarm in to feast on the brains of any living soul they come across. The police station is riddled with screams of terror as inmates and officers try desperately to escape from the zombies. Cassie’s arresting officer is struck down by one zombie in front of her cell. She witnesses the officer motionless as the zombie makes his way to feast on brains. Before succumbing to be zombie lunch, the officer throws the key card to Cassie to escape.

While the zombies are feasting on brains, Cassie slips through and ends up in the evidence room. There she takes anything that could help her with the zombie apocalypse.

With a large variety of weapons to choose from in the evidence room, she chooses a baseball bat, several Swiss army knives, a Zippo lighter, road flares and a large grey knapsack filled with fireworks. She is now prepared to let her inner Alice from “Resident Evil” pop out.

After escaping the zombie prison she sees that the world is now in a large apocalyptic state. Businesses and homes are abandoned and people are running for their lives. Cassie needs to find her parents and friends so she reaches a point of desperation.

She finds a car with the keys inside and is obligated to commit grand theft auto. Another problem is that she has never driven a car before. After several attempts at getting the car started she is able to find refuge.The antics she encounters after make prison sound like camp.

 The Walking Read

With the success of the television show “The Walking Dead” and films like “Zombieland” and “Shaun of the Dead,” it is no wonder the zombie genre is creating a large fan base. Mainly from people who just can’t get into that entire pretty vampire phase with “Twilight” and “The Vampire Diaries.” Blood, guts and gore are flowered throughout “Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of)” promising a fun and hilarious take on the zombie apocalypse.

Titchenell writes very well. She portrays her characters to the point where you know exactly who they are and you see what she sees with her descriptive tone throughout the book. The way she describes certain places sounds like she has been there before. Like when she talks about being locked up in prison.

Titchenell does not sound like the type of person to have ever been arrested.

Homeschooled and attending college at the age of 14, a life of crime would not suit her. But she makes her reader feel her teenage angst of being stuck in a cell. Titchenell also seems like the real life version of Tina Belcher from “Bob’s Burgers.” Writing friend fiction and fantasizing about groping zombie butts sounds like something she would do.

“Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of)” gets three and a half stars out of five because it was entertaining however the characters seemed a little irritating. She writes for young adults so maybe if you’re over 21 it can get annoying listening about crushes. But the delivery of gore and violence was done well.

“Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know Of)” is available now at major retail stores and Amazon retailing at $14.99.

Michael Saakyan can be reached at murad.saakyan@laverne.edu.

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