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'Mars, May Zombie': YA novel about a gay teenager in post-zombie apocalypse PH debuts at #MIBF2022

By Catherine Kris Ciar Published Sep 17, 2022 10:00 am

Are you a fan of zombies and queer stories? This book might be for you!

Mars, May Zombie is a new title by award-winning author Chuckberry J. Pascual and illustrated by young and talented artist Iñigo Fadul about "a gay teen living in a post-zombie apocalypse Philippines, along with a sassy best friend, and an even sassier lola."

The young adult novel published by Adarna House is set to debut at the Manila International Book Fair 2022, running from September 15-18, 2022.

Book lovers have a chance to get their copies by the author and the illustrator on Sunday, Sept. 18, at booths 240-241, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.  

According to the official summary of Adarna House, the story takes place in the year 2028.

“Eight years after the zombie apocalypse has taken over the world. Marcelo ‘Mars’ Manapat is one of the survivors, and he is running out of toilet paper. Together with his neat freak of a grandmother Vicky, and his sassy best friend Billie, a self-confessed Beyonce stan, he has gotten used to navigating life in different zombie-infested Red Zones. Until one day, he hatches a plan to get into the nearest zombie-free Blue Zone and discovers a secret that may even be worse than flesh-eating monsters!” 

In an interview with PhilSTAR L!fe, the author of Kumpisal: mga kuwento (UST) and Ang Nawawala (Visprint), which won the National Book Award for Best Book of Short Fiction in Filipino, shared that his grandmother served as the inspiration behind his latest YA novel.

The author shared that two characters, Vicky and Mars, are loosely based on the author and his grandmother. Billie, the third character who is always fashionable and catwalk ready, is a composite character based on the authors' friends in real life.

Other main inspirations for the novel, which Pascual wrote in 2021 during the height of the pandemic, included World War Z, Dread Nation, and other zombie books and films. Pascual mostly writes with Queer protagonists, so he decided this time he would mix it with the zombie fiction that has a Queer protagonist. 

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Based on the catchy title alone, the author intended the story to be read by his 15-year-old brother, as well as his students to spread a message of hope to younger readers. 

“At the back of my mind, pinag-iisipan ko na rin ‘yan na magsulat ng YA kasi gusto kong mabasa ng kapatid ko at ng mga estudyante ko. Ang gusto kong makuha ng reader pagkatapos niyang basahin ito ay tungkol sa hope, tungkol sa pag-asa kasi kailangan talaga natin siya ngayon, sa panahon na ito,” Pascual told PhilSTAR LIfe.

Like Mars, Vicky, and Billie, they continue fighting to live. With the flesh-eating zombies out to get them, they still dare to fight because they have hope that fuels them. Plus, we see Billie releasing her inner fashionista with a big hat and a scarf around her neck. It might be a zombie apocalypse, but who said you couldn't fight figuratively and literally while looking like a snack?  

The novel was initially priced at P599, but is being offered at a discounted price at P480 for the #MIBF, only for the fair's duration. The MIBF will be hosting a 3-day book signing throughout the fair, with Pascual signing books on Sunday, Sept. 18.

Ano na mga Mars? Get first dibs on Mars, May Zombie and other great reads at the #MIBF2022 running from September 15-18, 2022.