2013 Zombie Awareness Month
Read by Nicolas Tecosky
Audible Frontiers/Permuted Press
Length: 7 Hrs 29 Min
Genre: Zombie Apocalypse
Quick Thoughts: The 7 Habits of Highly Infective People is a great example of inventive storytelling that isn’t just a rehash of every other zombie book. While the transitions between perspectives was often disconcerting, Rose manages to tell two excellent stories, with humor battling emotion, pulling it together for a strong finale.
There are zombies of all types, fast zombies, slow zombies, mutilated zombies and those that could pretty much pass for humans. Some zombies leave a trail of intestines as they walk down the street, while others are conscientious about a locality’s litter laws. With so much variety among the shambling meat bags, you’d really hope for some variety in the literature as well. In 2012’s Zombie Awareness month I listened to over 20 Zombie audiobooks, and in fact, by the end of the month I started jonesing for a book with no roadtrips, no hording, no holing up in protected cities, and where the fear of being devoured by your mother, sister, friend or pastor was very low on your list of life problems. This year, for Zombie Awareness Month. I am looking for new takes on the Zombie genre outside the typical Zombie Apocalypse novels. I will be checking out Zombie novels from a dog’s perspective, some YA zombies, Zombie outbreaks at Star trek conventions and maybe even some zombies in space. A while back I asked Jacob from Permuted Press, the premiere indy publisher of zombie and horror fiction, to recommend some atypical zombie novels, one of the first he suggested was The 7 Habits of Highly Infective People by William Todd Rose. I’ll be honest, I had heard of this title before but avoided it due to what I believed was a pretty dumb title. With so many great entries in Zombie fiction, did I really want something that styled itself after a crappy self help series? Well, I guess Jacob thought I did.
There are 7 signs that always show up in people infected with the a strange virus that turns it’s victims into crazed undead cannibals and Bosley Coughlin, a slacker and recreational drug user, knows them all. Why, you ask? Because Bosley’s bad trip has allowed him to see the future, and it isn’t pretty. Yet, in the future, Bosley has also seen Ocean, a young girl who has lived a tragic life in the midst of a Zombie apocalypse and Bosley will do anything to prevent her from having to live that life. The 7 Habits of Highly Infective People wasn’t what I had expected. I was expecting something more along the lines of John Dies at the End, and what I got was, well… I’m not quite sure. Perhaps a weird genre mashup of 80’s rebel movies like Pump Up the Volume and Heathers, with a dash of Ann Aguire’s Enclave, throw in Orson Scott Card’s Pastwatch, and some Soylent Green for flavor then beat that repeated with a blunt object, pull away the recognizable parts, and divine the feel of the novel from the left behind detritus. Basically, it’s a weird one, and while it didn’t always work, when it did, it worked quite well. There are two very different yet intertwined stories being told here, one about a confrontational man who may be a bit crazy due to his years of drug use who believes he sees the future by inhabiting the bodies of people. The other storyline takes place in the future, where a young girl finds an small group living underground, safe from the zombies roaming the land but with it’s own horrible secret. Also, there’s some stalking, brutal murder, Zombie wrestling, fly eating, a bitchy mother and a nuthouse. The main issue I had with the story was how different the two main stories were in tone, making it quite jarring when shifting perspectives. Yet, I think this slight discomfort pays off with an excellent ending that manages to pull all the strange pieces together. The 7 Habits of Highly Infective People is a great example of inventive storytelling that isn’t just a rehash of every other zombie book. While the transitions between perspectives was often disconcerting, Rose manages to tell two excellent stories, with humor battling emotion, pulling it together for a strong finale.
This was my first experience with Nicolas Tecosky as a narrator and I thought he performed well. He really stood out with Bosley’s in your face, f’ you confrontational perspective. Each sentence and phrase felt like he was flipping off the establishment, yet he also managed to tap into some real emotion when Bosley was discussing Ocean. When the perspective shifted to Ocean’s timeline, Tecosky gave it a creepier, slower pace that matched the ominous mood of the story. This isn’t your typical run, run or the zombies will catch you type of Zombpoc novel, and Tecosky managed to shift the pace of the novel to match the mood. His voices were solid with strong characterizations that fit to the clues given by the author. Tecosky even managed to get a few chuckles out of me along the way. If you are looking for a strange, head trippy take on a Zombie apocalypse, I definitely recommend The 7 Habits of Highly Infective People.