Audiobook Review: Apocalypse of the Dead by Joe McKinney

30 06 2011

Apocalypse of the Dead by Joe McKinney

Read by Todd McLaren

Tantor Audio

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: A highly enjoyable multi-character zombie apocalypse tale full of authentic characters. Excellent narration by Todd McLaren only adds to the fun.

Grade: A-

With all the new zombie horror novels out there, authors more and more are looking for a unique angle to take with their undead creations. You have demon possessed zombies, love sick zombies and even British pop star zombies. Zombies have invaded everything from Jane Austin novels to high school football teams. Yet, with all this going on sometimes you just want a classic zombie apocalypse tale and Joe McKinney has one in Apocalypse of the Dead. Not to say McKinney doesn’t have a unique spin on his zombies. McKinney’s zombies have much of the characteristic of Romero’s zombies, with some added fun. Some zombies, called Level 3 zombies are more developed, able to work in groups to trap prey and acquire food. People who have had physical prowess before being turned may come back with more speed and determination after being infected. Yet, these aspects are more for world building than actual plot development for Apocalypse of the Dead. For the most part, the majority of zombies act like classic zombies, and the majority of humans act like scum. This is how it should be in a good apocalyptic zombie tale, where the zombie swarms have changed the world, but the truly living are the real dangers.

For pure enjoyment value, this has one of my favorite zombie listening experiences. While it may not be as sophisticated as Deadline, or as emotionally affecting as Warm Bodies, Apocalypse of the Dead reminded me of that feeling I got when I first read books like Stephen King’s The Stand or Robert McCammon’s Swan Song. Apocalypse of the Dead is a multi-character vision of the apocalypse and its aftermath. McKinney has created a large group of authentic characters that you quickly become attached to. One thing I really like about his characters is that they are all flawed, with devastating pasts, and it is how they coped with their pasts that truly give you a glimpse of their true character. While religious leaders, Harvard graduates and law enforcement personnel may get pulled down into the mire of the apocalypse, ex-cons and porn stars can rise above their pasts and become heroes. Within this world, it is the unlikeliest of characters that bring about the most good. McKinney has also created some devastating images of Apocalypse that I haven’t seen before including an attack on a retirement home, and a blind girl struggling on her own in a town overcome by zombies. I have said this before, I am not a literary critic, I judge books by how much I enjoy reading or listening to them. While McKinney need not wait for the Pulitzer committee to come knocking on his door, I personally had a hell of a time listening to Apocalypse of the Dead.

Todd McLaren handled the narration for this book. At first I though he started off a bit slow, but as the book progressed he began to match the pace and tone of the novel with precision. McLaren is the perfect narrator for multi-character epics like this. He has an uncanny ability to nail characters with precision, from the major leads to the smallest roles it almost as if McLaren has created a back story for each, and comes up with the perfect voice to match it. McLaren is a master at characterizations matching regional dialects and accents perfectly and it was interesting to hear him create just the right southern accents for various characters. Apocalypse of the Dead is a must listen for fans of multi-character epic Apocalyptic zombie fiction, and for anyone else who like a good story well told.


Note: A special thanks to the wonderful people at Tantor Audio for providing me with a review copy of this title.



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