Read by Sean Runnette
Length: 10 Hrs 30 Min
Genre: Zombie Apocalypse
Quick Thoughts: Zombie Fallout doesn’t really break much new ground. Tufo puts some interesting twists on his zombies, but nothing earthshaking. Instead, you have a classic first person zombie apocalypse tale with plenty of zombie slaughtering action that will make you laugh just as often as it grosses you out.
Truth be told, I would not survive the Zombie Apocalypse, I know this and accept it. When the dead begin to rise and eat the flesh of the living, my major role will most likely be dinner. Sure, I read plenty of zombie novels and watched countless movies, but heck, I’ve also read tons of mysteries and have yet to solve a murder. I am no survivalist. I’ve never fired a gun in my life, or heck, even held one in my hand making bang bang sounds. I have no martial arts talents and am not specifically skilled using hand weapons. In fact, me using a sword or club is more likely to end up with me in the hospital, or on an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Heck, I don’t even own a suitable bunker full of food and supplies to properly hide from the hordes. More likely than not, when my cannibalistic brethren show up, I’ll probably be hiding in my bathtub crying like a baby. The only true weapon I have is my biting wit and quick turn of phrase. So, when the zombies do break open my bathroom door, I should be able to zing them about their personally hygiene before they engulf me in a sea of teeth. I think the fact that I have no zombie survival skills, beyond being properly marinated, makes me able to enjoy zombie fiction even more. I often find that the hardcore survivalists just can’t let go and have fun when reading post apocalyptic novels. They get so hung up on the details, the caliber of guns, the size of the knives, what item is best used to bludgeon, what food lasts the longest or supply most essential. Geesh, these novels are about your mom rising up to eat you, can’t you just sit back and enjoy it?
Mark Tufo’s zombie apocalypse novel Zombie Fallout is a breath of fresh air, mostly because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Sure, the Zombie Apocalypse is a serious situation, but, come on people, crack a joke once in a while. The undead may eat your brains, but they can’t eat your sense of humor. Tufo filters one of the most gory, nauseating zombie apocalypse tales through the mind of a sarcastic, almost Neanderthal white suburban male. Michael Talbot has been preparing for something like this his whole life, so when the dead begin to rise, he knows what to do. Well, not really. He thinks he does, but no matter how much planning, and how well trained, nobody is truly prepared for the zombie apocalypse. I have to admit, I sort of groaned a bit when Michael called himself a survivalist. Part of me is getting sick of the uber-prepared overly competent, and all too often ultra-serious apocalyptic prepper as protagonist of Zombie tales who marches about slaughtering the undead with cruel efficiency, barely flinching as they become drenched in brain matter. In Zombie Fallout, the characters are affected by what’s going on. While Michael is a sarcastic, politically incorrect caveman at times, he’s not a robot. Things affect him. He has breakdowns, and is overwhelmed by the situation. Tufo does a good job making his tale very visceral. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a fan of gore for gore sake, but Tufo’s gore serves a purpose. It helps create a mood where you can smell the decay, and feel the nausea that the situation induces in the characters. Yet, Tufo never mires the tale down in the depravity, but uses levity to help the readers past some of the more disturbing moments. Zombie Fallout isn’t really breaking much new ground here. Tufo puts some interesting twists on his zombies, but nothing earthshaking. Instead, you have a classic first person zombie apocalypse tale with plenty of zombie slaughtering action that will make you laugh just as often as it grosses you out.
When I first started listening to Zombie Fallout, I just knew I was going to hate the narrator. As the story opens, my first thoughts when hearing Sean Runnette’s voice was that he sounded like Ray Romano with a traumatic brain injury. Yet, as I got deeper and deeper into the story I started to realize that Michael Talbot sort of acted like Ray Romano with a traumatic brain injury. Being this was my first time listening to Runnette’s narration, it’s hard to judge his skills overall, but I started to really enjoy his readings. He did an excellent job with the male characters, particularly Michael and Tommy, and did a serviceable job with the females. While the majority of the novel comes from Michael’s perspective, there is a brief point where the story is taken over by his wife, and that was probably the shakiest part of Runnette’s performance. Yet, overall I enjoyed it. He delivered jokes well, and controlled the pace to allow listeners to easily visualize the action. His best moments where during the conversational moments, where it was like Michael was actually addressing the audience of his tales. His tone was almost conspiratorial, like someone telling a dirty joke with a wink and a nudge. I had a lot of fun listening to Zombie Fallout, and am definitely looking forward to continuing this series.
This review is part of my weekly “Welcome to the Apocalypse” Feature.
Note: A special thanks to Tantor Audio for providing me with this title for review.