Title: The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch: Volume One: Age of Empire
Author: Daniel Kraus
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror
Series: Zebulon Finch, Volume 1
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
This book was given to me by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review--thank you so much!
When I finally got to this book, Halloween was coming, and what better book for Halloween than the coming of age story of a modern ghoul? This book--I have so many emotions about it, that truly, it's hard to get those feelings into cohesive, coherent thoughts. First off, it was long, and long for me, it took me a week to get through this giant tale. This book also spans a good sixty years, quite a timeline, especially for a young adult novel.
But, as per usual, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Zebulon Finch, a gangster in early America, gets resurrected by unknown individuals, after a deadly shootout in gangster-ridden Chicago, and, locked up in an empty chamber, forever seventeen and yet rotting at the core, tells you, the reader, his story--every nasty, gory bit of it. The pacing of this novel was breakneck--I honestly couldn't put it down, even when it got too frightening or macabre.
I had a love/hate relationship with our hero throughout the novel. I loved him, but at times, I really wanted to shake him. Perhaps I should be more forgiving of our young narrator--I mean, I'd guess it would be hard to be seventeen for one's entire existence. Another thing that I loved about its novel was its scope. This book literally begins in turn of the century Chicago, and ends at the dawn of the second World War, with Zebulon finding out about the invasion on Pearl Harbor.
There are also many characters that pepper the novel throughout Zebulon's many long years, some friends, other enemies, crawling out of the woodwork at the most unexpected times. All of these people are affected in some way by Finch, and it was interesting to see how one character, from a previous arc, would reappear, insidious and full of malevolence. My favorites among this cast were Church, a war buddy, The Barker, Dr. Leather, and of course, last but not least, the beautiful film siren, Bridey Valentine.
This novel was greatly ambitious, huge in scope, exciting and dark and macabre, in fact, so much so at times that I didn't really think this novel could be classified as young adult. Don't get me wrong, I love dark, gory, and frightening, but at times, it was just a little bit too heavy. Regardless, though, I honestly cannot wait for more from the brave and darkly hilarious Zebulon Finch--a triumph in dark fiction! The bottom line: A highly ambitious, dark novel that is gigantic in scope and minute in detail, The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch was a wild ride, a true tale of a modern ghoul--wonderful! Next on deck: The Young Elites by Marie Lu!