Warning: Contains Plot Spoilers!
Double Feature: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies
By Brent Hartinger
It’s a horror-movie extravaganza in this companion to Brent Hartinger’s Geography Club! Two books in one recount the stories of best friends Min and Russel who sign up to be extras on the set of a zombie film – then learn that there’s nothing scarier than high school romance.
Read one story, flip the book over, and read the other. In Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies, Russel must choose between his long-distance boyfriend and a close-to-home ex who wants to get back together. In Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies, Min struggles to accept her cheerleader girlfriend’s decision to stay in the closet.
Russel and Min’s separate stories affect each other in surprising ways – but you’ll have to read both books to find out how!
Major Themes and Ideas
(1) The scariest “monsters” in our lives can sometimes be other people.
(2) Everything depends on your point of view; two people can experience the same events over the same period of time, but perceive in radically different ways.
(3) Sometimes the noblest gestures are the one that are done out-of-sight.
(1) In Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies, Russel has to decide between staying with a long-distance boyfriend, or getting back together with a previous boyfriend who has since possibly mended his ways. What do you think of this choice? Does Russel make the right decision?
(2) In the end, Russel decides that his parents are wrong to try to keep him from Otto. Is he right? Even if his parents are wrong, is he right to disobey them?
(3) Min is attracted to someone who acts in a way that Min feels in unethical. Is Min being fair? Is she wrong to judge Leah’s friends based on stereotypes and first impressions?
(4) Min’s mother tells her a story about a priest who insists that everyone see the world exactly his way, but who comes to a very bad end. What’s her point? Is Min’s mother right? What’s the difference between being open-minded and having no principles?
(5) Both Russel and Min are surrounded by “soul-sucking zombies.” Who exactly are these zombies, and why? In each case, the author gives a hint that the main character is in the presence of a “zombie” (examples: Kevin wears a sweatshirt spattered with red, blood-like spots, and Father Franklin’s office smells like funereal incense). Can you find the other hints?
(6) Russel and Min are working as extras in a horror movie. How do the events on the set of the movie influence their respective decisions about Kevin, Otto, and Leah? What, for example, does Russel learn from Declan McDonnell? What does Min learn about herself while trying to unravel the mystery of who exactly is creating the zombies in the movie?
(7) In Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies, we see the scene between Russel and Kevin at the stinky picnic gazebo from a different point-of-view than the one in Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies. How does the addition of this new perspective change how we see Kevin? Did you see it coming? What do you think of Kevin’s sacrifice?
(8) Min later makes a sacrifice of her own, suspending some of her principles for Leah’s sake. What do you think of this sacrifice? Do you think she was influenced by Kevin’s sacrifice for Russel earlier that same evening? What exactly is the meaning of self-sacrifice?
(9) At the start of both stories, Russel and Min see Gunnar and Kevin very differently. How and why do their perspectives of those characters change? What do these changes say about human perception?
(10) Russel and Min are both the main characters in their respective stories, and they both go through big changes. Is there a third main character in the two stories? How does he or she change?
(11) Min says that a “brain zombie” is a “zombie of the mind”—someone who is, or isn’t, a zombie because of the people around him.” What does she mean? Are there “brain zombies” in your life?”
Suggested Class Projects
(1) Class essay: Identify the soul-sucking brain zombies in your own life. How do they challenge you, and how can they be defeated?
(2) Class project: play with point-of-view. Write a story or play telling the same sequence of events from the point-of-view of different characters.
(3) Zombies! ‘Nuff said.