Highway Bodies (Alison Evans, Echo)
Alison Evans follows up their award-winning debut Ida with a refreshingly Australian zombie apocalypse story suitable for older teens. Sprawling across both rural and urban Victoria, Highway Bodies thrusts readers into the chaos of a modern-day zombie uprising through three different perspectives: Dee, a bisexual drummer who is far from home; Jojo, a non-binary teen struggling to keep themself and their sister alive; and Eve, a young trans woman managing to carve out moments of quiet domesticity amid the end of civilisation. Evans’ simple prose highlights the everyday difficulties of young adults left without parents, internet access and basic necessities. Scenes that explore the often overlooked practicalities of surviving the end of the world—for example, needing to look for food in a now-dilapidated zombie-infested town—are visceral and cinematic. Despite a somewhat abrupt ending and character voices that blur occasionally (with the exception of Eve, who is memorable for her colloquial narration), Highway Bodies is a compassionate story imbued with softness, which helps make the intense horrors and violence more digestible. Evans’ second novel shares similarities with John Marsden’s ‘Tomorrow’ series and will be of interest to teachers, librarians and schools wishing to diversify their collections or reading lists.
Jes Layton is a queer and freelance writer, #LoveOzYA advocate, and the admin officer for the UNESCO Melbourne City of Literature Office