Read by Kristin Potter
Length: 15 Hrs 59 Min
Genre: Zombie Apocalypse
Quick Thoughts: Rise Again, despite some frustrating moments with the main character, is one of the better executed Zombie Apocalypse novels I have read. Tripp delivers with some intense action sequences, and Zombies that are more than just place settings in this brutal world. Fans of classic Romero Zombies, as well as 28 Day Later Rage Zombies can definitely find a meeting of the minds in Rise Again.
Although it’s been over a month since listening to my last Zombie novel, I have been thinking about the undead a lot lately. It seems whenever I found myself at a different location with some time to kill, I would begin analyzing it for the pros and cons as a suitable place to hold up during a zombie outbreak. I think much of the reason behind my constantly drifting mind turning to a zombie related subject is The Walking Dead. A lot of this season of the Walking Dead has dwelt on the morality of the Zombie Apocalypse. The question of what is ethical in such an extreme situation is always fascinating. For some people they believe that the only true ethics of the Apocalypse is to do whatever it takes to keep yourself and those you love alive. Yet, others wonder if just surviving is enough if the choices you make strip you of your humanity. There is a series of Post Apocalyptic survival books written by a Born Again Conservative author. In his books, all his good Christian protagonists refuse to perform any looting whatsoever. I fact, one character was stuck in a hunting lodge in the mountains over winter, and instead of eating the food the original inhabitants left, he decided the Christian thing would to be to hunt for food on his own, instead of stealing. While part of me wanted to give him kudos, for the most part I found him stupid and unrealistic. I would love to believe that my morality and ethics would hold up in an apocalyptic situation, but, stuck in a cabin in the snow, I’m gonna eat your beans. I think one of the things about a Post Apocalyptic situation is that you have to adapt or die, and some of those adaptations need to be in what you are willing to do to ensure your survival.
Ben Tripp’s Rise Again is one of my favorite types of zombie novel. The novel starts right before the initial outbreak, and follows a group of survivors during every stage of the apocalyptic onslaught. Rise Again is a very character driven story, yet the driving force of the tale, Iraq veteran, and current Sherriff of a small California town Danny Adelman, isn’t very likeable. I always appreciate a strong female lead, which Danny is despite her alcoholism, but she is also self defeating at times, slow to adapt, selfish and worse of all, utterly humorless. I struggled to figure out how so many people were instantly pulled to a woman with no charm. She spent so much time complaining about how people should just stop questioning her and just do what she says, yet freely admits that the others are holding her back, and she is basically lying to them about her selfish intentions. Danny would often place these arbitrary pre-apocalypse restrictions on her band of survivors that just didn’t make sense to me in a post apocalypt5ic world. One of the most frustrating tricks that Tripp uses was making those who oppose her, such big assholes that it was often easy to overlook that they were probably right, and Danny wrong. Yet, despite my frustration with Danny, I became more and more fascinated with her as the book went along. There is never much character progression until perhaps the end where she even manages to make a joke, but as the world changes around her, Danny manages to find her fit, even if it’s an uncomfortable one. Rise Again is also full of action both gruesome Zombie action, and conflicts with other survivors. As an action platter Tripp knows what he’s doing, designing scenes full of carnage and near death situations. I did find myself zoning a bit here and there during some of the extended scenes, but Tripp always managed to pull me back in time for the well executed culminations of these scenes. Yet, where Rise Again really excelled is in his development of the original pathogen that leads to the Zombie outbreak, and the evolution of the Zombies themselves. These Zombies changed and adapted so much that it truly drove the pace of this novel, never allowing the survivors to get comfortable, and delivering one of the most chilling, unforgettable final moments in a zombie novel I have ever read. Rise Again, despite some frustrating moments with the main character, is one of the better executed Zombie Apocalypse novels I have read. Tripp delivers with some intense action sequences, and Zombies that are more than just place settings in this brutal world. Fans of classic Romero Zombies, as well as 28 Day Later rage zombies can definitely find a meeting of the minds in Rise Again.
As the audiobook began I was a bit unsure of Kristen Potter’s narration, but as the story began to come to light, and you began to understand just who Sheriff Adelman was, it became apparent what a wonderful choice Potter was for this narration. Potter has a mature whiskey toned voice that captures Danny well. Potter has a sulty edge to her voice that you could feel pushing its way into the narrative, but she keeps it restrained, and that restrain pays off. Danny is a broken character often unsure of her self and that bleeds through in Potter’s characterization of her. Potter doesn’t do much to differentiate the characters beyond subtle changes in tone and inflection but I never struggled to keep the characters straight. Her reading of the, often quite long action sequences is quite deliberate that sometimes it borders on monotonous, and this contributed to my losing focus at points, but she makes up for this in other areas. I was impressed enough with her reading of Rise Again, that I found myself searching out some of her other work for future listens. I would to here a title where she can effectively let loose her sultry tone in a more appropriate setting.
Note: Thanks to the good people at Tantor Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.