REVIEW: Return of ZomBert (The Zombert Chronicles) by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Ryan Andrews
A second meaty serving of the ZomBert Chronicles offers a suspenseful treat for animal lovers and fans of spooky mysteries.
ZomBert is back in book two of a wry new mystery series by award-winning creators Kara LaReau and Ryan Andrews. A stray cat who escaped the YummCo Laboratories on the outskirts of Lambert, Bert has now been officially adopted by nine-year-old Mellie Gore. He spends his days dozing in Mellie’s room and his nights hunting…and devouring fresh prey. Bert’s health and memory have returned, and his newfound strength and smarts are off the charts. Mellie, meanwhile, is busy working odd jobs to fund her cat’s visit to the vet, convinced that Bert can win the Best Pet contest at the upcoming YummCo-sponsored Harvest Festival. But is Bert really the best pet in Lambert—or just the weirdest? And could he be plotting revenge? Clever illustrated fare for fans of Bunnicula and other humorous forays into the macabre.
Fair warning to adults that the book includes mention of lab animals, experiments, and the off screen death of animals. We aren’t the generation that was traumatized by the death of Bambi’s mother but parents might want to screen this one first.
Dear Ms. LaReau,
After finishing the first book in this series, “Rise of Zombert,” I was all on board to discover what was next for escaped lab cat Zombert and his new person, Mellie. “Zombert” wasn’t cute and fuzzy – either the character or the book. And this book takes things a bit darker. This book can stand along but I would recommend reading book one first before starting this one.
Bert is getting stronger after being free of the experiments that he was put through and the substances he was given while he was a lab cat imprisoned in the YummCo labs. New person Mellie gives him the freedom to feed his cravings for the food he wants and in the way he wants. As he recovers, he feels better and discovers that his mind is working faster allowing him to understand things he never had and make mental connections about where he was and what he needs to do to help free the animals he left behind yet vowed to help set free.
Mellie is trying to pay off the vet bills that her parents covered but insist that she pay them back for. When neighboring Mrs. Witt hires her, Mellie learns about how Mr. and Mrs. Witt had begun a candy business before YummCo bought them out. Mr. Witt had discovered something about the company that upset him but couldn’t reveal it due to an NDA.
Meanwhile the denizens at YummCo are desperate to get the escaped cat back and arrange something to lure Mellie and Bert out. YummCo has Big Plans and nothing, but nothing, can be allowed to stop them.
As I said, things take a bit of a darker turn in this installment. We get hints of what Bert went through as well as hearing from him about the loss of his two siblings after their mother failed to return from a hunting trip. Some things are nice as Bert settles into his new life with Mellie complete with a soft bed, free range hunting trips, and the dawning knowledge that he’s starting to actually understand her. But that last bit has come at the expense of the substances he was given.
The book ends on a cliffhanger with Things Happening that Mellie, her friend Danny (yay that they are proud nerds and stand up for themselves and fellow weirdos [their words, not mine]) and several of their school friends don’t understand. Plus Bert’s fate is left uncertain. Still, Bert is smart and determined and might have a secret ally on his side. I’m chomping at the bit to see how everything will be resolved. B-