by A. J. Whitten

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $8.99, 285 pages

Attention students! Did you have assigned reading this past summer? What a bummer! Now that school is back in session, how about a little Shakespeare? Check out The Cellar by A.J. Whitten. Don’t worry…it is not your average required reading. It is inspired by Romeo and Juliet but this is Shakespeare with an edge. A.J. Whitten is a pseudonym for bestselling author Shirley Jump who writes with her teenage daughter. Jump knows what teens like to read. The Cellar is about zombies and the supernatural community.

When handsome and mysterious Adrien moves next door to Meredith, her sister Heather believes she has fallen in love. But Meredith notices odd things about Adrien. He wears sunglasses all the time. He keeps Piranhas as pets. And bugs and worms follow him. Adrien must be a zombie. Meredith will stop at nothing to save her sister from heartbreak or worse! Witten’s writing style is clear and concise with short chapters. She occasionally switches narrators to give readers the full story. Most YA novels are about vampires and witches. It is refreshing to read about zombies. Are your neighbors members of the walking dead? Read The Cellar to find out!

Elizabeth Franklin