Audiobook Review: The Becoming: Ground Zero by Jessica Meigs

7 08 2012

The Becoming: Ground Zero by Jessica Meigs

Read by Christian Rummel

Audible Frontiers/Permuted Press

Length: 9 Hrs 5 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: The Becoming: Ground Zero succeeds where many follow ups fail, by changing the tone and slowing down the pace, Meigs actually manages to create even more tension than the original. It’s not an easy ride, with devastating emotion and heartbreak as we become more and more attach to these characters in an extremely unpredictable world. Full of mystery, intrigue and even some romance, The Becoming is a series I want to devour like a lone weaponless survivor in a horde of the undead.

Grade: B+

There is a rising axiom among fans of zombie apocalypse fiction that it’s not about the zombies, it’s about the survivors. Sure, we love the rising of the undead, the friends and loved one turning into insatiable eaters of human flesh, many of us even enjoy the gore and mayhem that comes with the ravaging hordes, yet, tales simply about walking corpses seeking out the flesh of the living isn’t enough to make a compelling story. We need to get to know the survivors, to feel their pain. A good Zombie outbreak novel asks the question, “What would you be willing to do to survive?” Yet, as Zombie fiction becomes more and more saturated into our culture, other questions are starting to be asked. One major theme that is really beginning to get examined in Zombie fiction is, “Is survival enough?” So much of Zombie fiction centers on surviving, yet, when the first wave is over, and the survivors begging to adapt to a new way of life, the obvious question is “What’s Next?” Should our survivors be happy with simply surviving, finding a way to live day to day with the constant threat of the living dead ending everything you have been fighting for? Often, our survivors find themselves with some sort of mission, find a cure, save a loved one, search out as location where you can make a life that serves as their new purpose. Yet, these types of decisions come many side effects, the greatest of which is conflict. In a group of survivors, how do you choose to take on a mission when it reduced the safety of the group? How much safety are you willing to sell in order to gain a sense of purpose? These issues are key points for any surviving group, and the driving theme of Jessica Meigs second novel of her zombie Apocalypse series, The Becoming: Ground Zero.

It’s been a year since the Michaluk Virus changed the world, and Ethan, Cade and their small group have found a way to survive despite the constant threat of the undead. Yet, when a mysterious woman shows up, and asks for their help to travel to Atlanta, to the CDC headquarters where the virus began, some see the opportunity as a chance for purpose, while others see it simply as a Suicide mission. And for Brandt Evans, the stoic former marine who barely escaped Atlanta after the initial outbreak, it’s a trip back into his greatest nightmare. The Becoming: Ground Zero is the sequel to Meigs excellent debut novel The Becoming, yet, instead of sticking with the tried and true it makes a big change in tone and focus. While The Becoming was a fast paced Zombie Outbreak novel that focused on surviving and adaptation, Meigs slows down the pace and focuses more on the interplay between the characters in Ground Zero. Now, I am never one who gets excited by romance in Zombie novels, usually it seems forced and uncomfortable. While there is a touch of heavy handed romanticism in Ground Zero, for the most part it comes off organically, and actually serves the plot. Meigs has a knack for straight forward characterization that never glamorizes, but portrays realistic reactions to a devastating world. Almost every one of the main characters frustrated me at some point, but in a way that only proved how engaged I was in their struggle. Plus, I like that Meigs characters actually make mistakes, often stupid ones, but manage to learn from them. Unlike many sequels which are just ramped up versions of the original, Meigs actually ramps down the violence through most of the book, yet made it feel somewhat more ominous. And all the character development, mysterious situations, and mood creation pays off in a killer ending that had me wanting the next edition right now. The Becoming: Ground Zero succeeds where many follow ups fail, by changing the tone and slowing down the pace, Meigs actually manages to create even more tension than the original. It’s not an easy ride, with devastating emotion and heartbreak as we become more and more attach to these characters in an extremely unpredictable world. Full of mystery, intrigue and even some romance, The Becoming is a series I want to devour like a lone weaponless survivor in a horde of the undead.

Christian Rummel again brings his talents for characterizations and plotting to the world of The Becoming. One thing that Rummel really managed to do well in his performance of The Becoming: Ground Zero was to really find the dark humor that Meigs has infused this tale with. Meigs snappy dialogue and clever turns of phrase are really brought to life by Rummel’s reading, evoking plenty of audible laughs from me. Rummel also masterfully handles some really devastatingly emotional moments that I can’t go deeper into without spoiling some key moments in this tale. I will say though, I didn’t cry. I am a big, manly man, who doesn’t cry, especially as he’s driving home late at nigh on a particularly curvy road that follows Neshaminy Creek. Tears would have been far too reckless.   I did have one small quibbling complaint, and that was in the opening of the book. Meigs used a diary entry by a new character to remind us of the world she created, Rummel read this in his narrative voice, and not in the character’s voice. It really doesn’t change much for the performance, just a little personal quibble of mine that most readers probably wouldn’t even notice. The Becoming: Ground Zero is a wonderful expansion of Meigs world, expertly delivered by Christian Rummel.

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3 responses

7 08 2012
Christian

Thanks, Bob! Another thoughtful and astute review. You are far too kind…
I had to address your quibble, though, as it is perfectly valid. The director and I went round and round on that one. I think it would have been the better choice (in terms of storytelling) to have read the journal entry in the character’s own voice. In the end, however, it boiled down to this: would listeners really be able to withstand my ‘lady voice’ for such an extended, unbroken period without chucking their iPods out the window? The director thought not, and faced with that logic, I had to capitulate…

8 08 2012
THE BECOMING: GROUND ZERO Reviewed by The Guilded Earlobe! | The Becoming

[…] can read the entirety of his review right here, and you can pick up a copy of the audiobook from Audible.com right here! Share this:DiggLike […]

18 01 2013

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