Bad Hair Day, book #2
Kate Grable is a former social outcast. She was the super smart nerd who had freaky epileptic seizures, was generally a bad dresser. She saw herself as a social outcast, her peers saw her as intimidatingly smart and quiet (and probably also as a bad dresser with scary seizures.) She became then became the unlikely friend of two gorgeous and popular girls. "Unlikely" because Kate never would have expected Rocky or Kiki to notice her. But they're nice girls who wanted to be her friend and they pry Kate out of her shell. So now Kate dress better and invited to parties, hasn't had a seizure in over a year, but she's still 'Kate'. She's always a little bit afraid that she will lose her new social life.
Kate wants to get into a great Pre-Med program, so she volunteers as the varsity football team's manager in order to get experience and pump up her high school resume. A lot of the things she does, like checking sprains and breaks, seems way outside of what any school would let her do. (Unless they don't mind leaving themselves open for a lawsuit.) I think this part of the story could have been handled in a more believable way and Kate would have still been the super smart, overachieving, observant, and ethical character that she was. Kate herself is really what makes this silly and over-the-top story work: she's smart, driven, and wants to do the right thing. She notices unmarked vials in the First Aid cabinet. She knows that no medicine should be unmarked, she works with the doctor who volunteers with the team so she knows the med inventory, and these vials shouldn't be in there. She immediately assumes the coach is giving players steroids. It might be a jump in logic (but the team is horrible and needs all the help it can get) and Kate collects evidence and sends it to the absent team doctor. (Unfortunately he's delivering babies and never has a chance to see what Kate has sent.) I really liked that she was trying to get help from more knowledgable and experienced people instead of running around shouting accusations. But Kate soon notices people acting strangely, and as evidence piles up she reluctantly admits she might be dealing with zombies. She's off to find a cure (hopefully), make sure her friends don't get hurt, and maybe survive long enough to talk to that hottie Aaron (squee!).
It seemed that Bad Taste in Boys was trying to be a combination of funny zombie book like Kirsty McKay's Undead and the humorous suspense and mystery of Gemma Halliday's Deadly Cool series, but it falls short of the mark. The humor is definitely there but the suspense is lacking. In fact, the suspense is pretty much nonexistent. Kate's friends are blasé about helping to prevent the zombie apocalypse. There is one point where Kate needs Rocky's help and is telling her the plan while Rocky puts on makeup. She's totally cool that there are zombies and the student body might start eating each other during the pep rally. I probably would have stabbed myself in the eye in shock if a bomb like that had been dropped on me. But, nope, Rocky is all fine and dandy and fixes her lipgloss. Kate thinks KiKi is infected so she jumps on her and injects her with what she hopes is an antidote. Turns out she's not infected, but she totally laughs off having been injected with something strange. In fact, other than her brother and his dorky LARPer friends, nobody seems concerned about the weirdness around them. The ending is incredibly tidy but it works with the overall tone of the story. My serious zombie readers don't really care for Bad Taste in Boys, but the kids just looking for something fun or fast say it's not bad.