Audiobook Review: The Undead Haze by Eloise J. Knapp

2 05 2013

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2013 Zombie Awareness Month

 

The Undead Haze by Eloise J. Knapp (Cyrus V. Sinclair, Bk. 2)

Read by Kevin T. Collins

Audible Frontiers/Permuted Press

Length: 8 Hrs 33 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: The Undead Haze is a solid Zombie Apocalypse tale that separates itself from the horde by the unique and oh, so twisted mind of its main character. Knapp blends a character driven survival tale with some awesome hardcore zombie gore into one seamless gift for Zombie apocalypse aficionados. In this Knapp manages to prove her first novel was no fluke, and cements her place as one of the top writers of the genre.

Grade: A-

We are a society that is obsessed with labels. It seems everybody, ourselves included, are looking for easily defined labels to slap on ourselves to explain our dysfunctions and behaviors. When I was in college, I took the Myers-Briggs test twice, and both times I came up borderline Extrovert and Introvert. This actually stressed me out for a good period of time. Eventually, I met with one of my advisors, and she gave me some good words of wisdom, "Do be too concerned with labels, you get to choose what you want to be." Now, I believe there are many people who have certifiable personality and psychiatric conditions, but I think many more have chosen what they feel they are and then become self fulfilling prophecies. I know, during some of my key moments of development, when I was dealing with the many issues that we go through, I tried to find something to smack on my forehead, and declare to the world, "THIS IS WHAT I AM! THIS EXPLAINS ME!" I’m sort of glad it never really took, that I went through a period of rapid change, of breaking away from how I was raised where labels never stuck. One of the reasons I really embraced Apocalyptic Fiction was that it appealed to my Introverted side. To live as the last man on earth with all those toys waiting to be picked up. It was a natural progression of my childhood fantasies of being locked by myself in a toy store over night. Yet, as I grow, and seek more balance, I realize that true heroes of Apocalyptic Fiction are those who learn to work with others, even if it’s a small group of close people. One of the reasons I loved The Undead Situation was because of the journey of self discovery that Cyrus V. Sinclair is on. He truly is one of the most fascinating characters I have experienced in Zombie fiction. Cyrus’s self diagnosed sociopathy is sort of my pop culturally defined Introversion extrapolated to an extreme point, and then placed into the most extreme of all situations, a Zombie apocalypse.

What could make self diagnosed sociopath Cyrus V. Sinclair leave the safety of his isolated cabin and throw himself amidst the undead hordes risking his life and the life of Pickles his ferret? Well, just one thing, Blaze, the hardcore, kickass woman he met, then abandoned after a devastating car accident. Yet, finding one women among the ruins of Apocalyptic Washington is nearly impossible, and it doesn’t help that the crazed leader of a cannibalistic gang with a taste for redheads seems to think that Cyrus should be his prodigy. But Cyrus is determined to succeed, no matter how many innocent people die in his wake. The Undead Haze picks up right after the cliffhangerish ending of The Undead Situation, and quickly immerses us again into Eloise J. Knapp’s world of some of the most twisted, amoral, crazy assed Zombie Apocalypse characters in the genre today. Oh, and those are the good guys. In fact, there really aren’t any good guys in The Undead Haze. Even the nicest, most considerate character barely bats an eye when he has to brain someone with a crowbar just for making too much of a racket. In Walking Dead terminology, The Undead Haze is all Shanes and Merles and absolutely no Ricks. This is a good thing people. I loved Cyrus so hard in The Undead Situation, so hard I thought it must have been a fluke. I typically despise the amoral, hardcore characters in Zombie Novels and movies. I hated Shane. Yet, I love Cyrus. The Undead Haze just made me love him even more. Eloise J. Knapp’s apocalyptic world isn’t groundbreaking. There are fast and slow zombies, twisted fucks, cannibals and religious crazies, yet when you filter it all through the skewed perception of her main character, it feels fresh and new. Knapp has definitely shown progression as a writer. Her action scenes are crisper, and more visually stunning than The Undead Situation, and she finds a way to pull the dark beauty out of her settings. I think the overall imperative of The Undead Haze where Cyrus has a mission about more than just his personal survival helped in the pacing of the novel. There is a constant pushing, a noticeable desire to move the plot forward that you can feel in this story that is often lacking in Zombie series which often it seems each book is just about getting to the next book. Here, there’s a goal, and it creates a self contained storyline that can stand on its own. The Undead Haze is also darkly funny. Cyrus’s voice is so fresh, so without the need to blunt his thought process that the shear audacity of it made me laugh out loud at times. Cyrus said some things that, in any other character’s mouth, would be head skakingly corny, but for Cyrus, they turn into gold. The Undead Haze is a solid Zombie Apocalypse tale that separates itself from the horde by the unique and oh, so twisted mind of its main character. Knapp blends a character driven survival tale with some awesome hardcore zombie gore into one seamless gift for Zombie apocalypse aficionados. In this Knapp manages to prove her first novel was no fluke, and cements her place as one of the top writers of the genre.

I am often amazed when a narrator, after a multiyear break between books, can just perfectly recapture the voice of a character. If I remember correctly, The Undead Situation was my first experience with Kevin T. Collins as a narrator. I remember thinking while listening that he was channeling JD from the movie Heathers for his reading of Cyrus, which was PERFECT!  Then I wondered, hey, maybe he just naturally sounds like JD. Now, that I have become a big fan of his narration through multiple genres of audiobooks, I can attest that Collins has range, and that he is totally the voice of Cyrus. Collins reads The Undead Haze with a harsh crudeness. A slap you in the face style that made each moment, each untimely death, each visceral image, each poorly considered quip feel like a punch in the gut. Collins doesn’t simply read to you, he sneers at you, and damn it, you just accept it, perhaps even revel in it. Collins transitioned his pacing perfectly, from Cyrus’s introspection to the rapid fire action scenes, bring every moment alive. There were even a few moments where I even actually kinda felt emotional type things, but we won’t talk about that. Forget I mentioned it. I do have two small issues. So much of the voice of the novel takes place inside Cyrus’s head, and sometimes it was hard to determine what was internal dialogue and what was vocalized, until the character told you or you saw a reaction from another character. Also, there was a few, not many, but a few, what I like to call "gurgle blurps." Some strange sounds that were like throat clearing, lip smacking that probably could have been edited out. Other than those small quips, this production was excellent. Kevin T. Collins has so become Cyrus V. Sinclair that I really hope I don’t run into him during the Zombie Apocalypse.

MIZAM

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2 responses

2 05 2013
Jenn Lawrence (@jennbookshelves)

Ok, you’ve sold me on this one!

10 05 2013

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