It’s no secret that I have become a fan of Mark Tufo. The experience of being a Mark Tufo fan is a unique on, one that needs its own clever name, like Tufooties or Tofunguys. Being a fan of Mark Tufo is like being a fan of your friend’s band. They may be raw and do things that mainstream rock bands would scoff at, but they are having so much fun doing it that it’s infective. I haven’t loved every moment. I found the novella that comes between the two man arcs of the series a bit on the head shakingly dumb side, but this is because Tufo is a risk taker, and isn’t bound by convention. This is a man whose main character, Mike Talbot, appears as a main character or some iteration of his exists in almost every series he has created. It’s a strange sort of multiverse that that I find fascinating.
The Zombie Fallout series has been a strange, wild ride. The original Zombie Fallout was a funny, disgusting, politically incorrect, horrifying relatively traditional initial Zombie Outbreak story, with only hints of things to come. The first three novels of the series started to flesh out the underlying mythology of the novel while Michael and his assortment of friends and allies attempt a cross country journey from Colorado to Maine, with some stops along the way. Along for the ride is Tommy, a strange boy that could be labeled special, who is more special than any of them can imagine. In the initial book, Mike meets a strange, almost aware Zombie woman, and something about her just doesn’t sit right. He decided to not to kill her, and will regret that decision for the rest of the series. This woman is more than just a zombie, and more than just human and becomes the main nemesis of the series, focusing on and desiring the utter elimination of Michael and everything he holds dear.
The central theme of the first three books is Michael’s love for his family, and the loyalty to those in his inner circle. It’s not a clean apocalypse for the Talbot clan, the lose people along the way, suffer grievous injuries and even supernatural style psychic attacks. They lose a member of their group to Eliza, thus beginning the second arch of the series where the group goes on the offensive and takes the fight to Eliza.
Last year, I listened to and reviewed all the first Three Zombie Fallout novels and the bridge novella. You can Click on the cover images below for my reviews. This year for Zombie Awareness Month, I decided to listen to a review the next three novels all in one series post.
The First Arc
The Second Arc
Read by Sean Runnette
Length: 11 Hrs 11 Min
Zombie Fallout 4 got the second arc rolling on the right foot. Mike and his friends and family are on the offensive looking to end Eliza and rescue one of their own. Along the way we reunite with some old friends and make some new. This had a lot of the feel of the early novels, yet told from multiple points of view, eventually all coming together for an amazing heart stopping finale. While the pacing at times was uneven, the ending was thrilling and brilliant and opened up a whole new avenue of exploration for this series. We even get to see some more in the evolutionary process of the zombies, which doesn’t bode well for out survivors. Long time fans of the series will find a lot of payoffs here, including the final resolution of one characters story. The End Has Come and Gone was a furiously fun novel with all the perfect Mike Talbot touches.
Read by Sean Runnette
Length: 11 Hrs 9 MIn.
I found Zombie Fallout 5: Alive in a Dead World a bit disappointing. Now, it was still a lot of fun, but it did little to move the overall story forward, and focused a lot on some really annoying characters, particularly an old surly woman who for a moment I almost started to like until she turned into the spawn of Satan’s Evil Twin and another women who helps out Mike and his group, but has some of her own issues. Mostly, I felt Michael being away from his family and somewhat socially isolated in this tale contributed a lot to it’s disappointing tone. Michael is at his best when surrounded by his family, and here there were times where he just didn’t seem himself, for good reason. There were some especially gruesome moments, particularly one involving some cats, and some real emotional scenes, but I found the darker tone, lack of forward progress and focus on unlikable characters to hurt the book over all. I should add, the epilogues, while important to the mythology of the book just didn’t work for me as well this time.
Read by Sean Runnette
Length: 14 Hrs 51 Min
Whatever issue I had with Book 5 was more than made up for in Zombie Fallout 6: ‘Til Death Do Us Part. Mark Tufo pulls it all together in the excellent completion of this arc of the series. The highlight of this novel was the fleshing out of Eliza’s History leading up to her final confrontation with Michael. Along the way, we meet an interesting new character names Azile, and have a fun Zombie Road Trip and Zombie siege all in preparation for a kick ass finale that pays off for the listener as well as sets up the series for some new explorations. While there may have been a few bumps along the way, Tufo more than justifies the trust his fans put in him to create a fun yet nauseating Zombie apocalypse tale with characters you grow to love. I look forward to seeing where the series goes next, with so many tantalizing possibilities.
Sean Runnette may possible be Mark Tufo’s alternate universe twin, I’m just not sure which is the goateed evil version. It’s almost scary how well Runnette captures Michael Talbot and his band of family and friends. I have not listened to Runnette in other books, and it always takes me a moment to convince myself that Michael Talbot hasn’t become a narrator. I will always remember my first reaction when I started the first Zombie Fallout. I was totally, Who the hell is this guy? He sounds like Ray Romano with a head injury. It only took me a little while to realize just how perfect that was. Runnette seems to have truly grown into this world, bringing each character alive in special ways. Where he truly shines is capturing Tufor’s sarcastic and often corny sense of humor, making it feel authentic. For me, Zombie Fallout wouldn’t have been the same without Sean Runnette.
2013 Zombie Awareness Month