Book Review: Kellie’s Diary #1, Thomas Jenner & Angeline Perkins (2013)

February 5th, 2014 12:36 pm by Kelly Garbato

Interesting premise, slow start…

three out of five stars

After a brief (and unexplained) stay with her grandfather, Kellie has just returned to her third grade class. Not a day back, and already some of her classmates are falling ill – never to return. At first, everyone assumes it’s “just the flu” – but by week’s end, her entire town has been devoured by zombies.

Kellie is sitting in class one morning when a scary man barges through the window and promptly bites the substitute teacher. Terrified and not a little confused, she hides in the girl’s bathroom until the mayhem subsides. With no other destination in mind, she decides to try and find her way home. Along the way, she dutifully records her journey in her diary (“Barbie”).

(For what it’s worth, Kellie reminds me of a (very!) young Julie Grigio. To wit: “They’re [the zombies] scary, but they look sad too.”)

When I first picked this up, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect: Graphic novel? A narrative book presented in diary format? Or a combination of the two, a sort of faux diary complete with scribbles and drawings and assorted ephemera? As it turns out, the answer is closest to B, and it lends itself well to the Kindle format. The authors use a handwriting font to give the book a handmade feel, and the “diary” is written on lined notebook paper, complete with faint water stains. In contrast to titles that contain visual art, Kellie’s Diary #1 is easy enough to read on the Kindle. There aren’t any real pages, but Kindle tells me that there are 69 locations, if that helps. There are nine chapters, and the diary covers exactly one week in Kellie’s life: January 18 through January 25, 1993. (Crossing my fingers for copious ’90s references down the road!) In any case, the story is rather short; I finished it inside of an hour.

The first installment in a episodic series can be tricky; you need to establish the plot and atmosphere quickly enough to draw the readers in, and engage them in the story so that they’ll return for more. Exploring the zombie apocalypse through the eyes of a child (and a seemingly abandoned one, at that) is an interesting (if risky) approach. Since Kellie tells the story, the language necessarily falls somewhere around a third- or fourth-grade level – which isn’t my usual cup of tea. Then again, this can be used to present a chilling contrast in future installments, when young Kellie will inevitably encounter some very adult situations. Though there isn’t much action in Part 1, there’s real potential here.

Free on Amazon, Kellie’s Diary #1 is the first of four books: Kellie’s Diary 1 through 4. There’s also a collection (the only one in the series also available in print), Kellie’s Diary: Decay of Innocence, which gathers books 1 through 3, along with some bonus material. Decay of Innocence is printed in a more traditional font, so if ease of reading is a concern, I recommend picking that up in lieu of the single issues.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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