Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Dead City

Dead City

James Ponti
Fiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2012   ISBN: 978-1442441309

Molly has never been one of those popular girls who does typical girl things. Instead of taking ballet lessons she took martial arts lessons, and instead of joining the Brownies, Molly went to the Audubon Society Junior Birder program. Instead of hanging out with friends on Fridays in the summer, Molly started going to the New York City morgue with her mother, who was a forensic pathologist. Even after her mother died of cancer two years ago, Molly kept on going to the morgue, where she spent time with Dr. Hidalgo, her mother’s best friend. This summer a teenager from Molly’s school, the Metropolitan Institute of Science and Technology, is interning at the morgue and Molly is amazed when this smart, rich, beautiful girl starts treating her like a friend. Molly knows a lot about a lot, but when it comes to making friends, she has problems; social interactions are not her strong suit.

   Molly fully expects Natalie to drop her when school resumes, so she is amazed when Natalie  and her two friends come over to her at lunch and ask if they can sit with her. Usually Upper School students like Natalie don’t want to have anything to do with Lower School students like Molly. Natalie introduces her friends, Grayson and Alex, and then the older kids begin to ask Molly about herself. The whole situation is rather strange.

   After school, Molly goes to the subway station. Most students use the Roosevelt Island tram to go home, but Molly is afraid of heights so she heads down to one of the deepest subway stations in New York City, where she is attacked by a tall and strong man who tries to steal Molly’s necklace, which belonged to her dead mother. Then Natalie arrives on the scene and she proceeds to beat the guy up. She even rips his ear off. The weird thing is that the man seems to feel no pain and he does not bleed at all.

   Natalie then takes Molly to Grayson’s house, which is when Molly learns that the man who attacked her was a zombie. An honest to goodness dead guy. Apparently there are thousands of zombies living under Manhattan Island. They are sustained by the special rock, Manhattan schist, that the island is built on. Natalie and the boys belong to an organization called Omega, whose purpose is to “police and protect the undead citizens of New York City.”

   Molly is invited to join Natalie’s Omega team. At first she does not know what to think. The whole story is bizarre and crazy, but when Molly learns that her mother was an Omega, “the  most revered or most feared Omega ever,” she jumps at the opportunity to join.

   For six weeks Molly trains with Natalie, Grayson and Alex. She leans how to fight zombies, the history behind the zombie presence on Manhattan, and how to make herself look like a zombie. Then she is tested to see if she is ready to join the team. Molly makes it through her first test, managing to attend a zombie party and remain undetected for thirty minutes. Then Natalie takes Molly to a very strange crime scene. There are three bodies in a park nearby and according to the authorities the bodies have been dead for a long time. A photo of the bodies reveals something even more worrying; they are arranged in the shape of an omega.

   After the bodies are taken to the morgue Natalie and Molly go there to check them out only to discover that the three men are no longer dead. Instead, they are searching the morgue for something and they are a decidedly unpleasant and violent trio.

    This is the first book in what promises to be an enthralling series. The author combines a fast paced story with tit bits of New York City history. In addition, secrets about Molly’s remarkable mother are revealed and we begin to appreciate that Molly is part of something that is much bigger than any of us initially realize.