Audiobook Review: Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection by Don Roff

7 09 2012

Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection by Don Roff

Read by Stephen R. Thorne


Length: 1 Hr 41 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection is a production that is definitely worth a listen. It’s a quick and dirty slice of the Zombie apocalypse that fans of the genre should have a whole lot of fun with.

Grade: B

I really don’t know the history behind the whole "found footage" style of storytelling. I know my first real experience with this style was The Blair Witch Project. Blair Witch came out when I was in college. I remember heading down to The Ritz in Philadelphia during its initial limited run not really knowing what to expect. Now, remember, I was young and impressionable back than, and easily manipulated by the machinations of the big screen. Basically, what I am saying is this movie scared the crap out of me. While intellectually I knew this was just a movie, it felt real to me. Now, I am much older and wiser now, and have experienced the dog crap that is known as Blair Witch 2, so, no longer can the "found footage" style manipulate me so blatantly.   Sure, I saw and loved Chronicle but, I never had any problem keeping my sense of reality. I am beginning to think the whole Diary/Blog style of novels is the literary counterpoint to "found footage." Diary style novels take a step beyond the traditional first person POW, stripping away another level of reality so it seems that we are reading the actual words written by our main character. It’s a fun style when done right, but sort of obnoxious when done poorly. Yet, I think there is a reason why these types of stories sometimes don’t translate to audio very well. I think it’s because narrators are often too good. Sometimes, it seems the audiobook is too flawless, like they hired a professional studio with a trained actor to bring their diary to life. This is because, well, that exactly what is happening. Yet, in Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection by Don Roff, AudioGo attempts to truly bring the found footage style to Audiobooks.

Caught in the midst of an outbreak of a necrotic infection, Dr. Robert Twonbly, a hematologist from Seattle, records his flight from his laboratory to a community in North Canada and his attempts to avoid the zombies that now pestered the land. His recordings, made on a hand held recorder, and his journal are eventually discovered by Canadian officials and are one of the few first person accounts of survival amidst the chaos of the initial zombie outbreak. I found Zombies to be fascinating on many levels. The story itself will not break much new ground. It is a basic Zombie Apocalypse survival tale told in a first person stream of consciousness style. The story itself is notable for two things. First, I found the probably cause of the outbreak, a food additive that made foodstuff more desirable, an interesting twist. Second, the author does a good job showing the mental deterioration of the main character due to the high stress situation.  This is the second found footage, false document style Zombie novel I have listened to recently, and while I enjoyed the scientific slant of The Zombie Autopsies, Zombies had a much more human story. There is definitely a real sense of dread and despair to this story. It emotional manipulations are often obvious, but affective. In essence, if you are looking for some groundbreaking spin on Zombie literature, you won’t find that here. What you will get is a quick fix of zombie mayhem, told in an intriguing style. It’s basically, just enough zombie fun to keep the hardcore fan sated. 

The true payoff of the experience is the style of the audiobook. Adapted from a graphic novel, the production has a lot of obstacles to overcome. The biggest negative to the whole production is that you don’t have the illustrations. I highly recommend that you obtain a copy of the original work as a supplement to the audio production. What AudioGo does here is impressive. They create a true "found footage" feel with this production. The audiobook is not pristine, there is often background noise, low res hissing, and clunking sounds, like you would expect to hear when listening to something taped by a crappy little recorded. Narrator Steven R. Thorne does a good job giving the production a real feel as well, stumbling over his words, sighing and sometimes cutting off his own recording. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it is authentic enough to be worth the distractions. It really is one of the first effective translations of this style to the audiobook format. Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection is a production that is definitely worth a listen. It’s a quick and dirty slice of the Zombie apocalypse that fans of the genre should have a whole lot of fun with.

Note: Thanks to AudioGo for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

This review is part of my weekly “Welcome to the Apocalypse” Theme. Click on the image below for more information.



7 responses

7 09 2012
Jenn Lawrence (@jennbookshelves)

This audio is next in my lineup. I’m glad to be getting back to zombie fiction. I’ve been away for far too long.

7 09 2012
Smash Attack

Win! I am loving the sound of this one. The first person POV is always a fav of mine, esp in apocalyptic fiction. I want to witness firsthand as psychosis sinks in. THAT is what drives me to read zombie fiction. Give me crazy! 🙂 Now, I just wish my stupid library had this on audio.

9 09 2012

Having spent the last six months or more in an audio book slump (although The Long Earth was pretty good and I’m a die-hard Pratchett dlfan anyway), your thoughtful review has made me want to try this audio book cum comic. I hear ya, Blair With was nasty (and gave me terrible motion sickness), so I’ll take your word here and check out this audio book. It’ll probably qualify for the R.I.P. VII challenge as well, yay!
(I’m a random visitor who is one of the 140 non-giveaway followers of Trish C.’s blog. I hate clowns as much as I hate spiders)

9 09 2012

Nice review! We have five review copies of this audiobook available in our Solid Gold Reviewer program through Audiobook Jukebox, if anyone is interested.

11 09 2012
Top Ten Books That Make You Think - Always Cooking up Something

[…] 8. Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection – Don Roff This is an illustrated diary (fictional, thank goodness) of an American hematologist trying to survive in the zombie jungle. Or rather, the city of Chicago. The audiobook version is recorded in the old-fashioned way, raw with a lot of background noise. The narrator is quite convincing. After less than two hours, I was thoroughly creeped out. The worst of it? According to Roff the zombie apocalypse was caused by a food additive… makes you think what kind of junk we’re eating every day. (excellent review by The Guilded Earlobe) […]

22 10 2012
Jenn Lawrence (@jennbookshelves)

Just posted my review of this one & I agree. I thoroughly enjoyed the “found footage” format. Truly addictive listen/read!

18 01 2013

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