Split Screen: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/ Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies -- Brent Hartinger
I have such affection for this group of characters. Especially for Gunnar -- maybe because he reminds me a little of Xander Harris. I love it that in this book, he becomes a Relationship Guru.
Russel, Min, Gunnar and Em sign up to work as extras in a horror movie. Split Screen chronicles their two weeks as zombies. But here's the twist. It's a flip book. You remember flip books, right? Read one side of the story, flip the book over and read the other? I always got a kick out of them. So Yay, You!, Brent Hartinger, for bringing the flips* back to me.
Though they live eight thousand miles away, Russel is still happily involved with Otto.
Kevin Land, Mr. Hottie McHotHot Jerkface Jock from Geography Club, makes it known that he wants Russel back -- and that he's finally willing to come out.
To make life even more complicated, Russel's parents have discovered he's gay, and they are NOT taking it well.
Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies (Min's story):
Both of her best friends in happy relationships and singleton** Min is feeling lonely and left out and a little jealous. She's very happy for them, though, and she doesn't like the way that Kevin Land has been eyeing Russel.
Her love life begins to look much more promising when she joins the Brain Zombies fun and meets Leah, who might just be the perfect girl.
But then she discovers that Leah is very much NOT out of the closet -- and that all of her best friends are homophobic cheerleaders. (THE HORROR!! And I am not being sarcastic.)
First off, it was fantastic to finally hear Min's voice. She's super-smart and super-funny (On streaking her hair purple: "I could justify this by saying that I'd done it to express my individuality, but no, I'd really just wanted to shock people.") and I loved her relationship with her mother. I'm definitely hoping for another book that focuses on her. (One that focused on Gunnar would be good, too. Also Kevin.)
I got a huge kick out of the differences in perspective. Russel describes Kevin Land's smile as 'impish', while Min says 'smug'. Re: Gunnar and the zombie movie, Russel says, "I hadn't seen him this excited since he found lamprey eels in the creek near our house", while Min's Excitable Gunnar Memory is "the night they left the gate unlocked at the sewage treatment plant". Way fun.
I actually liked Min's story more -- I think that was mostly because that was where the surprises were, but also because Russel's segment, on occasion, felt a little message-y to me. Regardless of that feeling, I did enjoy the conversation Russel had with the priest. I would think that when writing a scene like that, it would be tempting to make the guy out to be a jackass, but BH didn't -- actually, I thought he came off better than Russel's parents did. Honest about his own hypocrisy, at any rate.
I don't want to give anything else away -- just know that you should very definitely read the stories in Russel/Min order. Good pick for fans of the rest of Brent Hartinger's books, as well as for fans of GLBT lit that doesn't feature a gay character being run over and of course, teens who enjoy breezy romantic comedy.
*And of course it would be Brent Hartinger to bring them back -- after Grand & Humble (which had definite flippy potential, though I like it just the way it is), we all should have expected it.
**Obviously, I re-watched Bridget Jones' Diary recently -- is there anything better than that Hugh Grant/Colin Firth fight scene?