Vacation by Matthew Costello
Read by Peter Macon
Length: 7 Hrs 29 Mins
Genre: Post Apocalyptic Horror
Quick Thoughts: Vacation is a fast paced, chilling Post Apocalyptic tale, with monsters in both zombie and human form. With excellent narration, and and increasing sense of wrongness, Vacation would make an excellent addition to any horror fans library.
I think it’s a sign of the times that I find things that should be good wholesome American fun a bit creepy. Things like Amusement Parks, carnivals, museums, and even churches have always had somewhat of an eerie quality to them, at least for me. Yet, one of the biggest spooky locales has to be the summer camp. Let’s face it, behind the whole cheerful, fun exterior lies an undercurrent of malicious intent. Being that these facilities are full of military style call and response chants, and late night bonfires only makes things worse. I did spend a few summers at a local Christian summer camp full of cabin competitions, daily chapel, swimming, counselors and of course bullying. Most of the time I look at this experience fondly, but I also remember the fake cheer of the staff and an inkling suspicion that something was just a bit off. I cannot be the only one who feels this way, based on the number of horror, kill spree movies that take place at summer camps. Matthew Costello takes this feeling of unease, and ramps it up exponentially in his thriller Vacation, adding global environmental collapse and flesh eating zombies to our traditional summer camp fears.
Vacation is the story of NYPD patrolman Jack Murphy, whose main job entails sealing off any break-ins by the cannibalistic zombies, called Can Heads, in his district. After a tragic encounter in an infested apartment building Jack is left injured and depressed, just looking to get back to work. Instead, his boss recommends he takes his family on a much needed vacation to an idyllic summer camp in upstate New York. Of course, nothing can be truly idyllic in a world full of drought, mass species die offs, and of course, zombies. Vacation reads like a faced paced B-Movie, full of zombie attacks, human evils and an ever growing sense of wrongness. Jack Murphy was a well developed character, with a balance of paranoia and hope, never really relaxing enough to enjoy a Vacation, but at least trying to let give his family a break from the ills of the world. Costello only briefly touches on the causes of the breakdown, with theories of genetic manipulation and environmental ills which were fascinating, but never sacrifices pace with overly long exposition. Much of the tale was predictable, yet, Costello threw in just enough clever twists to keep the reader on their toes. With the action packed, fast paced style and monsters in both zombie and human forms, Vacation would make a worthy addition to any horror fans library.
Peter Macon’s deep, resonant voice perfectly embodied both the character of Jack Murphy and the overall feeling of dread and horror of this tale. His voicing of the increasing unstable Jack Murphy, who moved between moments of stoic family reassurance and nearly uncontrollable paranoid outbursts, was excellent. Macon handles the pacing of the novel with ease, impressing me at every turn. I was also impressed with his handling of the character voices, including children and women. This is my first time experiencing him as a narrator, and I hope he gets more work, particularly in the horror genre, which his voice is well suited for. Fans of Post Apocalyptic yarns, Zombie tales, and horror in general should have a whole lot of fun with this winning audiobook production.
Note: A Special thanks to the good people of Blackstone Audio for providing me with a copy of this title to review.