YA is often famous for particular tropes or subject matter taking over our shelves in a rotating fashion. When I first started reading YA, dystopia was all the rage – think The Hunger Games and Divergent and The Maze Runner. We also had a pretty good run of vampires for a while, with Twilight and Vampire Academy and House of Night. You get the idea. We love a good theme.
I don’t know about you, but 2018 definitely felt like the Year of the Water Creatures / Mermaids. We had Sea Witch and To Kill a Kingdom, and it felt like those books were everywhere. But today I want to talk about some particular things I think are making a comeback in 2019 / 2020 that I’m excited about! Ahh! Books!
We’ve been lucky to have a few new witchy releases last year, and this year I’m so excited to get my hands on some more. As the last witch books that I can really remember reading were Harry Potter and Beautiful Creatures, it was about time witches made a comeback, right? RIGHT? And wearing all black, because I’m still low-key in my emo phase from when I was 15. Or as I would have corrected back in 2014, MOM, IT’S NOT A PHASE.
So last year I read Toil and Trouble, a very witchy (and queer) anthology, and I also recently read Undead Girl Gang… which you could also say had unconventional zombies in it? I ADORED IT. And now I’m super hyped to get my hands on These Witches Don’t Burn — which is also queer! Ahh my bi heart can’t handle this. I AM ALL THE EXCITEMENT. Ahh! *disappears into puff of glitter*
AND NOT TO MENTION, QUEEN V’S LONG OUT-OF-PRINT DEBUT, THE NEAR WITCH, IS BEING REPUBLISHED WITH A GORGEOUS NEW EDITION THIS YEAR! How blessed are we?! I’m so excited to get my hands on this gorgeous novel and cry, and fangirl, and then cry some more. I know it’s going to be spectacular.
Remember when Warm Bodies was all the rage? I think I saw that movie about ten times during the year it came out — I was just obsessed! And I can’t believe I haven’t read This is Not a Test, but it’s on my TBR! I promise! But I’m so excited that zombies might be making a reappearance. Everyone say, THANK YOU HIGHWAY BODIES for blessing us with amazing new zombie content… and for making it queer! I’m a big believer that all things are better when they’re queer, and Highway Bodies is no exception.
I loved how unapologetically Australian this novel is, and how clearly the characters’ voices came across in the narrative. And I absolutely adored the friendships and the way they could rely on each other when everyone else were literally being turned into zombies or dying around them. IT WAS JUST SO GOOD. I need more zombie books in my life please! And seriously, if you haven’t read Alison’s other book, Ida, get that in your life immediately. You won’t regret it.
VAMPIRES ARE BACK. I knew it! After hearing about the upcoming release of a vampire anthology that Queen V is in, Vampires Never Get Old, I predicted vamps were going to be a thing again in 2019, and Renée Ahdieh then announced The Beautiful will be released in October, and then Jay Kristoff broke the internet when he announced Empire of the Vampire will be out in 2020!
I was such Twilight trash when I was 12, read and loved all the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines and House of Night books, and then I fell in love with Baz from Carry On, as well as some of the vamps from The Mortal Instruments — but it feels like forever since we’ve had good new vampire content! I’M SO HERE FOR THOSE BLOODSUCKING FIENDS. I’m also just watching Buffy for the first time ever, so I’m the most invested in vampires as I have been since 2013. AND I LOVE IT. (OMG and also Kiersten White just released Slayer, which is set in the Buffyverse, and I’m KEEEEN).
Highway Bodies | Book Review
Who will you rely on in the zombie apocalypse?
Bodies on the TV, explosions, barriers, and people fleeing. No access to social media. And a dad who’ll suddenly bite your head off – literally. These teens have to learn a new resilience…
Members of a band wield weapons instead of instruments.
A pair of siblings find there’s only so much you can joke about, when the menace is this strong.
And a couple find depth among the chaos.
Highway Bodies is a unique zombie apocalypse story featuring a range of queer and gender non-conforming teens who have lost their families and friends and can only rely upon each other.
After absolutely adoring Alison’s previous novel, Ida, I knew Highway Bodies was going to be just as Australian, just as queer, and just as awesome. But what I didn’t know was how GORY it was going to be in some parts! I, rather naively, meandered into this book expecting a fun, cute queer story with a few zombies thrown in… and I completely disregarded the fact that zombies are SCARY. This book was scary in parts! And I soooo wasn’t ready for that. But like, it was amazing, in an I’ll-Never-Sleep-Again kind of way. Apocalypse books always freak me out, and now Highway Bodies is up there with Dry and The Quiet at the End of the World. PLUS IT WAS SUPER QUEER, so bonus points.
I literally can’t begin to express how much I loved all the queer munchkins we were introduced to. I adored all their interactions, and their little “found family” in amongst the world crumbling around them, and I especially enjoyed reading more about their past through small moments of reminiscing. IT WAS JUST SO WHOLESOME AND POSITIVE. And we don’t often get to see many genderqueer and trans characters in YA, or if we do, they’re often that “token” character instead of just one of the big, gooey queer fam — so that was lovely! ALL THE LOVE FOR MY QUEER, ZOMBIE-KILLING MUNCHKINS.
Like Ida, another thing I appreciated about Highway Bodies is just how Aussie it is! It’s set in Melbourne’s surrounds, and there’s mentions of suburbs I’ve been to, and places I’ve visited. There’s just something so comforting about reading a book set in your home town… but then Alison went and flipped that idea on its head by introducing ZOMBIES. But I was still like, Melbourne! Scienceworks! Woo! Look, I’m here for a good time, not a long time, and if the zombie apocalypse were happening while I’m alive, I’d totally Instagram the heck out of zombies walking down Flinders street before being devoured. Totally worth it for the ‘gram.
If you love books about the apocalypse (and can stomach some of the more gory scenes that involve zombies and human flesh and a lot of blood) and novels with a cast of queer characters (of course you do, you’re reading my blog after all), then you have to get your hands on a copy of Highway Bodies ASAP. This book will have you gasping, shielding your eyes, and quietly begging that your favourite characters will make it out alive. I’m already desperate to get my hands on Alison’s next novel!
Have you managed to get your hands on a copy of Highway Bodies yet? What kind of books do you think will be popular this year? Are you a fan of witches / zombies / vampires in YA? I’d love to know!
Thanks to Echo for providing me with a copy of Highway Bodies in exchange for an honest review!