Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Death of a Saint by Lily Herne

About the Book

Secrets. Everyone has them. But what if your secret is something so unthinkable that you can't even admit it to yourself? Exiled from the city enclave for crimes against the Resurrectionist State, teen rebels Lele, Ginger, Ash and Saint – aka the Mall Rats – are hiding out in the Deadlands, a once-prosperous area now swarming with the living dead. With the sinister Guardians breathing down their necks, the Mall Rats face a stark choice: return to the enclave and try to evade capture or leave Cape Town in search of other survivors. But what if the rest of South Africa is nothing but a zombie-infested wasteland? Will they be able to survive on the road if all they have is each other, or will their secrets tear them apart? 

After all, only Lele knows the shocking truth as to why the dead leave the Mall Rats unscathed – knowledge that she can't bring herself to share. And she's not the only Mall Rat harbouring a dangerous secret ...


It’s incredibly difficult to ‘diss’ a novel like this one, especially when I know my genre isn’t afay with Young Adult – Yet, I find myself reading more and more of them each month. Lily Herne (aka Sarah and Savannah Lotz) has once again shown us that she (they) is/are here to stay.

I enjoyed Deadlands (Book 1 in the Mall Rats series) but Death of a Saint certainly brings a new sort of game to the park of South African Young Adult Literature. You have your angsty love couple (Ash and Lele), a heartbroken Saint, a quirky slapstick ginger named Ginger and a road trip through zombie-infested South Africa that had me cringing. Now stir that in a pot of a series, add in a fight for survival, a sprinkle of horror movie seasoning and this is what you get. Granted this is all tied together with some great writing South Africa has to offer.

By the middle of the book I found myself searching for other things to keep me busy, it felt like the characters plodded along city to city but don’t let me convince you that this book isn’t worth your time. While the plot dips dismally in the middle Lily Herne keeps her characters fresh and always growing. I criticise the plot because I wanted another Deadlands which, when you look more closely, didn’t deal with the nitty-gritty zombies have to offer.

So let me take a step back and tell you that a second book in a series is always difficult to pull off (Unless you are J.K Rowling), but Herne certainly did it with flair by putting her characters through the ringer. She placed them in a smartie box, shook the living daylights out of them and let them run wild across the page, some tripped and others landed on their feet. It’s a great read, overall. Get it and expand your collection because if we can learn one thing from this duo writing team is that South Africa Young Adult Fiction is something to contend with.

About the Author

Lily Herne is a pseudonym for Sarah Lotz, a South African animation screen-writer with a fondness for the macabre. She has had three novels published by Penguin SA and also forms one half of a partnership who write as S.L. Grey.

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