Rachel Thompson

Leveling Up #Excerpt by J.R. Tague @JR_Tague #YA #GoodReads #BookClub

When I returned to school the next Monday, it became a little harder to ignore that something had changed. Getting out of bed in the morning was even more difficult than usual. I mean, yeah, sure, I had stayed up super late the night before finishing up a forty-man raid with some dudes on the west coast. But it’s not like that was new to me or anything.
Everything looked different as I entered into the vivid, fast-paced chaos of my high school. I stared, bleary eyed, at the mobs of students, my theoretical peers, moving in and out of doorways, around lockers, through the halls. They looked like schools of tropical fish, brightly colored and somehow swimming in formation despite the disorder around them. I wondered what it’d be like to move among them. I mean, yeah, I walked among them. But I wanted to, you know, swim. It seemed like everyone else had figured out some sort of secret, had learned how to make our time in this ocean bearable.
Until then all I’d wanted was to wait out the rest of my teen years in the hopes that I’d earn passage into a bigger, better, infinitely more interesting world. Now, for the first time, I wondered if that had been a mistake. I mean, what if this was all I got in the end? Maybe I should have been making the most of it. After all, if I really were dead and gone, how many of them would even notice?
I sighed as I opened my locker, wondering if everyone who had a near death experience got this emo about it. I was reaching up for my biology book when something crashed into my locker door, slamming it closed.
“You OK, man?” asked a guy from my Algebra II class as he retrieved his wayward football.
“Sure,” I replied, a little startled. He gave me a quick once over, then nodded before trotting back to his friends down the hall. I reached into my locker again to grab the textbook when I noticed a small cut on the middle finger of my right hand, and white indentations on the tips of the other three fingers.
What the hell?
The hand worked just fine as I pulled the book down, my fingers functioning normally as they curled around the cover and carried its weight for the short journey between shelf and backpack. It should have hurt like hell when the locker slammed into them.

Max McKay gets a second chance at life when, after a bizarre accident on his sixteenth birthday, he is reanimated as a new breed of thinking, feeling zombie. To secure a spot for his eternal soul, Max must use his video game prowess as well as the guidance of Steve the Death God to make friends and grow up. As if all that weren’t hard enough, Max discovers that he’s not the only zombie in town. As he enlists the help of his new friends, Adam and Penny, to solve the mystery of their un-dead classmate, Max discovers that he must level up his life experience in order to survive the trials and terrors of the upcoming zombie apocalypse. And, even worse, high school.
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Genre – YA
Rating – PG
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