Split Screen: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies / Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Split Screen: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies / Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies Book Poster Image
Fun format adds creativity to gay-themed coming-of-age book.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Fun format makes for a fast-paced read. Teens may empathize with the character's struggles, which include first love -- and anti-gay attitudes.

Positive Messages

This is more than an identity book about gay characters -- the protagonists here also learn important lessons about learning to see the complexity of real life, and real people, from dealing with parents to handling first loves.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Russel and Min come of age with support from their personal networks -- and each other.

Violence
Sex

Russel is a gay boy and Min is bisexual girl. Each protagonist tries to figure out their romantic relationships. There is some same-sex kissing. Russel also stays out to 5 a.m. with a boyfriend, making "the most of our time together." Also, Russel, thinking he sees his ex-boyfriend in another man's arms, accuses him of "picking up old guys in parks."

Language
Consumerism

Some discussion of favorite Disney rides.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is really two books in one (teens flip it over to read the parallel story). Each book is narrated by a gay character (Russel is a gay boy and Min is bisexual girl) as they try to figure out their romantic relationships. There is some same-sex kissing. Russel, thinking he sees his ex-boyfriend in another man's arms, accuses him of "picking up old guys in parks." Russel also stays out until 5 a.m. with a boyfriend, making "the most of our time together." Min's parents are OK with her sexuality, while Russel's mother says "homosexuality is disgusting."

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What's the story?

In this follow-up to Hartinger's Geography Club, two gay friends -- a guy and a girl -- decide to work as extras on a zombie movie being filmed in their town. In Min's story, she falls for a girl who is still in the closet and must decide if she is willing to keep a secret. In Russel's, his long-distance relationship is threatened when his popular ex-boyfriend decides he wants him back. Will they be able to solve their romantic drama before the movie wraps? Perhaps, with a little help from their personal support networks -- and each other.

Is it any good?

This is a fun way to read a book: Once you're done with Russel's story, you can flip the book over and read Min's. Teens will have a good time piecing together what really happened, even when each protagonist has a different perspective. But beyond the entertaining premise, readers may find themselves truly moved at moments, such as when Russel talks about how frightening it is to grow up gay ("most of us gay people grow up surrounded by people who we know don't understand us and who, if they knew the truth, might very well completely reject us").

This is more than an identity book about gay characters -- the protagonists here also learn important lessons about learning to see the complexity of real life, and real people, from dealing with parents to handling first loves.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the unique way this book is constructed. Why did the author choose to write two different books, rather than combine Russel and Min's stories into one? What might be some of the advantages and limitations of writing this way?

  • In recent years there have been a lot more books featuring gay characters. Is the same true for other forms of media, like TV, movies, or video games? What do you think of this trend?

Book details

For kids who love coming-of-age stuff

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