Chapter Book – My Rotten Life

Nathan is having a typically bad day. His heart and feelings are stomped on three times before the school day is over. Commiserating with his friend he mentions that he wishes he were immune to hurt. A weird girl pops up and mentions she might be able to help him with that, since her uncle is a mad scientist. But when Nathan tries the potion, he discovers that a mistake in the creation means that it’s not emotional hurts that are gone, it’s physical ones. Which would be great, except that along with his nerves being dead, everything else is too. In short, Nathan is a zombie. And the window of time in which he can be changed back is narrowing rapidly.

This was a solid book by David Lubar. It’s not as flashy, funny, or strange as some of his previous novels, but it gets the job done. There is plenty for kids to identify with, from feeling left out to triumphing at field day. I think some of the social maneuvering was a little intense for kids that are still in elementary school, but it’s such a prevalent subplot in books these days that I doubt kids will question it.

Why is it that every book that involves kids finding out that they can’t be hurt also involves crazy accidents that let them realize this? Most kids manage to go through their lives without major mishap, and yet every time someone gets a superpower (or, in this case, is turned into a zombie) there is some accident that would normally kill/maim the person, thereby revealing their new powers.

The characterizations are a bit flat, with the clownish/flatulent best friend and nerdy/misunderstood science dork girl rarely rising above their stereotypes. But in a book about a zombie grade schooler, subtle character development is not exactly the point. As a bit of fluffy entertainment, this book hits all the right points.


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