Jayne Lyons, Z for Zanto, Vivid Publishing, February 2020, 258 pp., RRP $33.50 (pbk), ISBN 9781925952315
Zanto is a twelve-year-old boy who lives in the shambles with his role model dad and delinquent older brother. Although they are poor Zanto is happy, and he dreams of one day playing soccer for Real Magique with his hero Reygo. Everything changes when a zombie outbreak occurs and Zanto and his friends Nala and Jack become zombies and are taken to a prison camp for zombie children like them on an island with no hope of a future.
When the Hope Games for children are announced, Zanto’s dream is revived and he is determined to play no matter what. He and his friends must make a daring escape to get off the island and show the world that not all zombies are dangerous killers. But even if they manage to get off the island against all odds, would he be able to convince the world that he is just a normal kid?
Z for Zanto by Jayne Lyons is an exciting and engaging book that has strong themes of family, friendship and hope. There are important messages such as perseverance in the face of discrimination and misfortune, and the importance of having hope and dreams in the story. It has a refreshing perspective of the zombie apocalypse from the point of view of a human turned zombie and although it touches on some heavy topics it is still quite humorous.
I found myself enjoying this page turner even more than I expected, and although it is obviously fictional it relates to many real world issues. I thought it was very admirable of Jayne Lyons to donate all profits of this book to the Save the Children charity that help children around the world who are devastated by disaster, disease or conflict. Most children aged 9-12 will enjoy this exciting and unique zombie novel.
Reviewed by Libby Boas