Audiobook Review: Dead City by Joe McKinney

18 06 2011

Dead City by Joe McKinney

Read by Michael Kramer

Tantor Audio

Genre: Zombie Horror

Quick Thoughts: McKinney’s Dead City is a fast paced, real time first person look at a Zombie Uprising, with a realistic and likeable main character.

Grade: B

One of the best things about zombie novels is the vicarious living effect, what would you do if you were in that situation? There have always been a lot of discussions on this topic among zombie fans. The movie Zombieland even presents a list of rules for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. Yet conversely, it’s also a quite frustrating part of zombie fiction. You know that anytime someone writes a zombie novel, there are going to be tons of reviews and posts by internet know-it-alls about why the main characters were stupid or unrealistic in their actions while attempting to keep from being eaten. Now for me, I know exactly what I would do, I would legally change my name to dinner. You see, us 30 something guys living in a major metropolitan area with a bum knee who neither own nor have ever fired a firearm, well, our best option is to have a variety of dipping sauces available when the zombies come. Personally, I think the internet trolls would find plenty to complain about with that strategy as well.

One of the things I loved about Dead City, the first of Joe McKinney’s Dead World novels, is that the hero, Eddie Hudson, is quite fallible. He makes mistakes, some of them quite stupid. He spends much of the story in a state of shocked disbelief. In the beginning it was quite frustrating, this cop running around in the midst of a zombie uprising, trying to save his family, yet he seems to take unnecessary road trips into danger. Yes, this isn’t the smartest thing to do, but who in their right mind would have their brain firing on all cylinders when seemingly dead people are walking around trying to eat you. Dead City moves in real time, following Hudson as he moves through the city of San Antonio, from one zombie encounter to another. Hudson meets an assortment of characters, some interesting, and some annoying as he searches for his family.  Dead City offers us a perspective that far too few Zombie novels give us. Dead City takes place at the height of the zombie uprising, before the survivors have had a chance to wrap their brains around the situation. It’s this initial terror that is fascinating and McKinney does an excellent job capturing it. This isn’t a novel about seasoned zombie hunters who have it all figured out. So, sure the trolls will probably find problems with Hudson’s decisions, but then again, I’ve heard that Zombies particularly like the flavor of troll meat.

I have to admit, I am not a huge Michael Kramer fan. I often find his narration on the dry side, with his deep tone bordering on monotonous. Here, he does a solid job handling the first person narrative of Eddie Hudson. It wasn’t perfect, I would have loved for him to add more of a southern twang to the character. Some times you can hear a bit of the Texan in Kramer’s Eddie Hudson, yet is comes and goes, but, not really to the point of distraction. Kramer does a good job with the peripheral characters, especially Hudson’s former partner Marcus, who he infuses with an appropriate childlike southern charm. Kramer slow reading works well with the fast paced nature of the book allowing the listener to follow the often chaotic action. What I am truly looking forward to is the next two books in the series which are narrated by one of my favorite narrators, Todd McLaren. Despite some minor issues with the text and narration, Dead City is definitely full of great zombie action and a well realized main character.


Note: A Special thanks to the wonderful people from Tantor Audio for providing me with a copy of this audiobook. You can purchase this title directly from their website



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