Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris is a zombie/infection novel. Our heroine Kate is a senior in high school and a science genius who works as an assistant medic for her high school’s football team. Her longtime crush, Aaron, is the quarterback. Kate becomes suspicious when she finds out her coach has dosed some members of the team with a mysterious, experimental injection. This injection is supposed to be a performance enhancer, but it begins to turn the infected into essentially zombies, mindless and cannibalistic, who can then pass along the disease to those around them. Kate spends the book trying to get to the bottom of the mystery involving the injections and attempting to come up with a cure.
So what did I think of it?
Okay, I want to get the serious stuff out of the way first. I had a big problem with one particular aspect of the book: Kate gets groped by a guy at a party and then mentions she hooked up with him once while drunk and now he thinks she’s easy. Her BFF also still gives her a hard time about the hook up. The same guy proceeds to grope her again and later force a kiss on her. She essentially shrugs off all the encounters. This. Is. Not. Cool. And I think, honestly, my main problem with the whole thing is that the book treats it so lightly. Granted the book was published in 2011 before the Me Too movement forced Americans to really think about and understand the definition of Consent. Still, this kind of brush off in a book aimed at teenagers seems inappropriate. At least, it certainly rubbed me the wrong way, and I had to discuss it before getting into the rest of my review.
On a much less serious note, another big problem I had with the book is that Kate never tells an adult until almost the very end. The zombie disease is clearly dangerous and extremely contagious, but Kate spends most of the book trying to figure the infection out on her own, rather than contacting authorities. She tries to put together the information she knows and pass it along to the team’s official doctor…who specializes in gynecology and acupuncture, not exactly someone who would be expert on infectious diseases. Eventually Kate contacts the health department, but this happens in the last 1/4 of the book. (Needless to say they ignore her at this point, but to be fair she doesn’t try very hard).
Kate also takes her sweet time getting to the bottom of things herself and although privately panicking, never thinks to inform anyone that they might be in danger. She needs to alert the police, the hospitals, the CDC, people who are more capable at handling this than teenagers. She doesn’t even call the police when she stumbles across a dead body, a victim of one of the zombies. At one point, Kate even lets a friend go home with someone she knows to be infected without warning her. In real life, Kate wouldn’t be a hero at the end of all this, she’d be in serious trouble for not letting the authorities handle it.
If it seems from the above paragraphs that I didn’t like this book, I’m sorry. It was actually really enjoyable, and I do plan on checking out the sequel. Kate is, for the most part, a likable narrator and at times her narration is laugh out loud funny. Her love interest is adorable, although he’s not really given much to do, and I also really liked the character of her younger brother, Jonah. I do recommend Bad Taste for those looking for a fun, light read; I just recommend it with the above mentioned caveats.