From the cover and the title, you might think Zombie Baseball Beatdown is a fluffy book. You would be so wrong. Sure, Paolo Bacigalupi has created a fun book, but it is loaded with relevant social issues that integrate seamlessly into the narrative.
Three best friends, Miguel, Rabi, and Joe live in a small town in Iowa and play on the same baseball team. Miguel is the child of illegal immigrants. Rabi is the child of an East Indian mother and an American father. Joe, the blonde haired one, has a father who drinks and becomes abusive. The three of them have to deal with bullies led by Sammy Riggoni, the local meat plant manager’s son.
The first sign that something strange is going on, is an awful, pungent odor emanating from the plant. This is followed up by an encounter with their baseball coach turned zombie. The group’s attempt to report this turn of events, morphs into potential disaster for them personally.
When they try to get evidence of what is going on, they discover that Milrow meats has been turning cows into zombies. These zombie cows are then butchered, packaged, and ready to be delivered to at least seven different surrounding states. It’s up to the three boys to stop them or the meat will be fed to millions of Americans, thus setting off a real Zombie apocalypse.
Here’s the important thing about this book. While on the surface it is about zombies and baseball, it takes a deeper look at racism and the plight of ‘illegal’ immigrants and labor practices in general. It examines animal welfare and factory meat processing. It explores greed and how corporate power can be abused.
I read this book because one of my readers came up to me and told me it was the best book ever, even outshining Tui T. Sutherland's Wings of Fire series that he is presently into. He is not wrong. I can’t wait to share it with other readers at our school.