Audiobook Review: The Book of Riley by Mark Tufo

9 05 2013

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2013 Zombie Awareness Month

The Book of Riley by Mark Tufo

Read by Sean Runnette

Tantor Audio

Length: 2 Hrs 58 Min

Genre: Dog POV Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: The Book of Riley is a doggedly good yarn that should perk you up like a high pitched whistle. Riley’s pack is packed full of great characters who persevere when life chains them up and throws dirt in their water bowl, even the cat. Lovers of dogs will give a howl of cheer and Zombie fans who love gore and mayhem will definitely be wagging their tails as Tufo continues to mark the Zombie genre as his territory.

Grade: B+

I love my dog. I really do. He’s a cute little guy, is often happy to see me, and always does his business outside. When I decided to get a dog, I knew it needed to be smaller, due to the rules of the apartment complex I lived in, but I really didn’t want any poofy, designer dog. Munch, who is named after the detective from Homicide and about 10 other shows, fit that bill. He’s 20 lbs. of attitude, with a short curly tale and a smooth coat. Yet, despite my love of Munch, he’s no zombie killer. In fact, he probably will get me killed when the zombies do come. While he’s not yappy, he doesn’t like people shambling near my apartment and lets them know. He spends a lot of time sniffing every square inch of green grass before finding just the right place to leave his little present, and then huffs at me indignantly when I dare remove it from where he left it. He turns his nose up to any type of food other than his brand, which is, of course, top shelf dog food. Basically, he’s spoiled and he knows it. When the Zombies come, the dog of leisure act will be up, and he’s have to buck it up, eat what’s provided, poo whenever we can find a spare minute and even find a way to sleep without his comfy assortment of dog and human beds.. He won’t accept this. He will bark at whoever he damned well pleases, even if it brings hordes of carnivorous undead down upon us. Will he attack those hordes? Oh, no, that would be beneath him. Heck, he’s just a little guy who’s willing to snip at the bigger dogs when they are safely being restrained by their owner, but actual protection for humans, not part of his job. Of course, despite his deficiencies as a zombie killer, he totally makes up for it by cleaning dropped food up off the floor.

The Book of Riley tells the tale of Riley, an American Bulldog, who must protect his pack from carnivorous two leggers. His pack includes two two leggers (a teenage girl and her infant brother), a nervous Yorky and a reluctant and smug cat. In this strange new world, full of new dangers and smells Riley must guide his humans to safety. I think there is an almost inherent need to label books featuring animal characters as either children, or semimetal life affirming tales. The Book of Riley is a zombie novel. A visceral, bloody gore filled zombie novel with death, decay and drama, and of course, talking animals. Riley serves as our guide, as she reveals the truth behind dog motivation, corrects our bad assumptions about dogs, tries to figure exactly what is happening in her own language, gets frustrated by any mathematical concept beyond 7 and of course, has to deal with a hoity toity cat questioning her every decision. Basically, it’s a lot of fun, but not for the weak of heart. I like how Tufo just goes straight for jugular, killing characters off in the initial zombie onslaught, letting you know that nobody is really safe, and that this isn’t some heartwarming made for TV dog movie. The zombie story itself is pretty straight forward zombie apocalypse not dissimilar to his earlier Zombie Fallout novels. So far, no talking zombies, hybrid Vampires, or strange death cults, just animals and their people trying to find some peace in a world turned on its head. Really, this book is about the animals and it’s a heck of a lot of fun because of it. Riley interactions with Patches the cat are hilarious and makes a good book even stronger. Even little Ben-Ben, the nervous Yorkie had some real hero moments. This is a quick tale that ends pretty abruptly, but have no fear, Book 2 is out as well. Now, I wanted to avoid any dog puns, and I think I did well, so I’ll wrap it up. The Book of Riley is a doggedly good yarn that should perk you up like a high pitched whistle. Riley’s pack is packed full of great characters who persevere when life chains them up and throws dirt in their water bowl, even the cat. Lovers of dogs will give a howl of cheer and Zombie fans who love gore and mayhem will definitely be wagging their tails as Tufo continues to mark the Zombie genre as his territory. Anyone who can’t get some joy out of this zombie slaughtering tale must be a cat person.

Some times I wish I could go back in time and let Sean Runnette know that one day he will be voicing a zombie killing American Bulldog bitch and his cat nemesis and wait to see his reaction. For some reason, I think he’d simply accept it. Runnette’s reading of The Book of Riley was simply fun. Each animal character came alive as if somehow Runnette was channeling his inner spirit animal. I loved Ben-Ben’s hyper pacing, and Patches almost super villainy smoothness. And of course, Riley, the all American hero of the tale whose dignity flowed out of each word, Of course, Riley may have been a bit perturbed to be voiced by a male two legger, when she was obviously a beautiful bitch, but she accepts that humans have their foibles. Fans of Tufo’s Zombie Fallout series will have no problem adjusting to Runnette’s narration, and even welcome it. Those new to the world of Tufo will find an engaging narrator, comfortable with the material and totally in synch with the author’s humor. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy this tail. OK, now I’m done with the puns.

 

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

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