It is not easy being a teenager, the journey to adulthood is fraught with landmine experiences that either make you stronger or cause you to shut down in utter despair. In "The Undying Apathy Of Imogen Shroud", Ben White weaves a darkly humorous tale of a lone girl's plight in life as she discovers what it means to be alive.
The story was written for young adults and is set in a sprawling city, that time has started to take its toll on due to poor upkeep by the administration. The storyline revolves around seventeen-year-old Imogen Shroud, who has given up on life due to a traumatic event at the age fifteen. For two years, she has rarely left her bedroom, except once a week when forced to venture out by her mother. This week's venture out into the world brings a wind of change that blows Imogen off her feet as she must batter her way through a zombie uprising to discover the value of family, friendship, self-worth and what it really means to be alive.
Imogen for the most part is a typical teen: sullen, difficult, rebellious, and centered completely on her own feelings of misery. Her attitude and behavior toward her family and the world around her makes the story disjointed and confusing to follow until you realize that it is the symptoms of her depression being expressed through the narrative of the tale. This is the strongest when she is describing the city's lack of care and upkeep; the overall feeling of decay that pervades the tale is a reflection of the apathy and fear she feels toward life in general. As the story progresses you can see this shroud of apathy lifting from Imogen and the city around her as experiences cause her to grow and shift, forcing her to leave her apathetic teen life behind and transform into a young woman with responsibilities to protect her family.
As a zombie apocalypse tale, Ben White has done an excellent job of making conceivable zombies with a realistic twist on their existence. I enjoyed the amount of time spend on describing the zombies actions and details of their conditions, along with the sheer number of them. The actions of the characters, or should I say the "reactions", were very human in nature; behaving much as I would imagine people would behave in such a situation, putting their needs and survival before others. The characters are described well making them grow off the pages into actual people, some you will like others you will not. The interaction between the characters is serious with just the right amount of humor mixed into it to keep you smiling at the quirkiness of the story.
There are parts in the story that were a bit fairytale-ish, where you go that is just not possible. I am not going to list them out, as it would spoil the end of the story. However, I found this straying from plausibility, if there is really any plausibility to a zombie tale, not to hamper the overall enjoyment of the story in the least. Speaking of overall enjoyment of this story, it was a very satisfying read leaving me smiling at the end thinking that was a damn good book. So on that note... read it; I doubt you will be disappointed.