Book Review: Twice Shy by Patrick Freivald

Teenage life, it’s quite a war really.  If it’s not the raging hormones shooting around the body it’s the battles of surviving school days without doing something stupid and never living it down.  In modern times in literature it’s become the place for vampires and werewolves who seem to use too much glitter and pout a lot, but there is one book that looks to take it back to more serious areas, the area of the zombie.

Twice Shy by Patrick Freivald follows the life of Ani; she’s a fairly unique girl in the fact that she’s a carrier of a zombie virus.  Her mother keeps it under control through experimental medications and orders Ani to become part of the emo crowd, because of course who would tell the difference between a pale faced teenager who hardly ever smiles and a zombie? Not many I bet.  Ani hates it though; she’s hiding who she truly is, including a crush on one of the jocks, Mike.  Bullied by Mike’s girlfriend for her emo ways she hates the fact she could literally rip the girl apart but has to keep up her act of being a normal girl, that is of course until one of her emo friends works out who she is and attacks her, Ani’s only defence is to bite him.  As time goes on and things start to get out of control Ani must balance her crush on Mike he shows fleeting interest in her, her growing desire for human flesh and the risk that Dylan the bitten boy could break out as a zombie at any moment, school life huh? Best time of our lives.

Twilight could be said to have damaged fiction in a way, especially the kind that teenagers like.  It’s all about emotion now and no blood, the vampires don’t want to suck blood; the werewolves just want to run through the woods and yell at passing vampires, in short it’s all very annoying really.  Twice Shy could have fallen into what I would call the “Twilight trap” but in fact successfully dodges this.  The humour it uses could be more compared to teenage films such as Heathers and Ginger Snaps.  Yes, we deal with the emotions that Ani has to go through, her life around humans is a constant struggle, and all she wants to be is a real girl.  There is always that danger though that she’ll go too far and find herself dining on her friends.

Her friends of course, the emo crowd should be her support but as with many kids who are part of these types of groups they are in fact very egotistical and wrapped up in their own little image crisis.  This is the whole issue of school groups, they may be pack animals but they like to eat their own, which of course to Ani is a problem as constant stabs in the back show her she does not belong in these groups, she’s more individual than them and that’s even before her true uniqueness of being a zombie comes into it.

What Patrick Freivald manages to do in this book is to create an entertaining and almost believable situation for Ani.  We all remember what teenage life was like, we all know the movies such as Mean Girls and others I’ve mentioned that show that constant bullying nature that becomes part of the groups people form and this is one of the tools Freivald uses so well.  Ani is a person who has a huge secret and as it becomes harder to hide she finds out who her real friends are and who are only using her to prop up their own frailties.  In bypassing the Twilight trap it’s also a lot more enjoyable than the works of literature that look to mimic the success of what in truth is a poor series of books.  I for one enjoyed Twice Shy, it’s slightly short and I finished it too quickly but it’s enjoyable and a real page turner.  I will admit that I found the very end of the story to be slightly weak, but it’s an ending that I can live with which of course I won’t discuss here because that would be a spoiler.

Twice Shy by Patrick Freivald will be available 26th October 2012 courtesy of Journalstone

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