Mo O’Hara’s first book made quite a splash in our house, with both of my sons declaring it the best book ever. Considering the number of books in our house, that is really saying something. My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish had everything a boy could want – a mad scientist – a computer hacker and a zombie ( or more accurately a zombie goldfish) along with action, adventure and a huge helping of humour. My sons have been counting the days until the release of the sequel (or should we say Sea-quel?). My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish was always going to be a difficult act to follow. When your first book is absolutely perfect, children do expect you to carry on the same vein. Thankfully, Mo has pulled it off again with a sequel just as good as the original.
In the first book Tom’s evil scientist big brother has poisoned a goldfish with toxic chemicals as a science experiment. Tom and his friend Pradeep attempt to save the fish, but it is too late. In desperation they attempt to revive him with a battery – which works – but between the chemicals and the electric shock, Frankie is no longer an ordinary goldfish. He is now a zombie goldfish with super intelligence and strange powers. Tom and Pradeep are in for a hilarious adventure as they try to save Frankie, and then have to save the world from their evil big brothers. My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish 2: The Sea-quell can be read as a stand alone book. The most basic facts of how Frankie became a zombie, and why he hates Mark are repeated, but I do feel this book is even more enjoyable if you have read the first book. I would expect most children who read this book to want to read any more books in the series. I would recommend reading My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish first, but it is not absolutely essential.
My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish 2: The Seaquel is really two stories in one book. The first story involves a vacation to a mysterious lighthouse, a strange old lighthouse keeper, monster eel and Tom’s evil brother’s next plan for world domination. This takes on something of a Scooby Doo type mystery as Tom makes frequent references to those pesky kids and they are uncertain whether the lighthouse keeper is friend or foe. The evil eel makes an absolutely perfect addition to the Zombie Goldfish saga.
The second story has a slightly more mature theme. Pradeep and Tom have been best friends for ever, sharing adventures and overcoming their brothers’ evil plots. The second story in this book sees them face a threat to their friendship unlike any other – a beautiful girl. When Pradeep lands the starring role in the school play, different interests and peer groups seem to pull the boys apart, leaving Tom with only Frankie for company. But Tom’s brother has an evil scheme cooked up for the school production of Robin Hood. Sherwood Forest has never been merrier with madcap adventure on stage, as once again the two friends join forces, along with Sami and Frankie to thwart Mark’s evil plans.
I really liked the way the second story touched on such a common childhood heartbreak, when a best friend seems to have moved on to other friends and interests. I’m sure many children will identify with this, but nothing can keep true friends apart forever. My favourite thing about this book however was my children’s reaction to it. I was delighted to see them so involved in the story. My boys are ages four and eight and both were spellbound with this book. In fact one could almost think the goldfish on the cover with hypnotic eyes had ensnared them with his zombie stare. This book arrived on the same day as a new video game. The game was dropped to the side unnoticed as they rushed to the sofa to begin reading this. Boys tend to be more choosy as to which books they enjoy, but this book is sure to help even most reluctant of readers find the joy of reading.
My sons loved the cover, and the illustrations throughout the book. The illustrations are black and white, as one would expect from a paperback book, but they are a cut above most books in this genre. Both of my sons said their favourite part of the book was a dialogue between Sami and the evil eel. They loved the unique S.O.S signal as well and hilarious accident involving a drama teacher, a goldfish water balloon and a cup of tea. Both boys were also very happy to learn there will be a third book in this series (and we hope there are many more). They were disappointed to learn they’ll have to wait until January though. Their message for the author: Awww – Can’t she write any faster?
Review by Margaret Young.