Audiobook Review: Indian Hill by Mark Tufo

2 01 2013

Indian Hill by Mark Tufo

Read by Sean Runnette

Tantor Audio

Length: 11 Hrs 13 Min

Genre: Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: While Indian Hill is often uneven, scattershot, full of disturbing situations, immature writing and cardboard action, Tufo’s engaging story telling style ultimately saves the day.

Grade: B-

Sometimes, when I read a book, I wonder if something may just be a bit off about me and a large percentage of the world as well. We often will read a book where people are put in horrible situations, forced to do horrible things, and call it entertainment. We often scoff with disgust at the mindless masses who cheer for the death and dismemberments in such books as The Hunger Games, yet, we too are getting entertainment from these stories. I often wonder, if there was ever an American Gladiators program, where the Gladiator’s fought to the death, how many of these people who are shocked by the events in Battle Royale, or The Running Man, would be tuning in. I read a review of The Hunger Games movie where the reviewer talked about her discomfort with the cheering of the audience when children, even though they weren’t Katniss, were killed. She wondered how closely the audience of the movie matched that of those cheering in the capital, all as pawns of the game. This made me think. Does the fact that I enjoy books where characters are forced to kill each other mean I lack some sort of empathy, or are on some level a hypocrite? I am also big fans of the TV show Survivor, where people lie, cheat and betray their closest allies all in the name of a big check and an arbitrary title. So, does this make me like one of the screaming fans, cheering for the young men walking to their death in The Long Walk? I don’t know if, in a future dystopia, I would be one of the brainless hordes, and I’m glad that it’s not a decision I have to make. Yet.

I really wasn’t sure what to think of Indian Hill, Mark Tufo’s Gladiatorial style science fiction tale featuring one of the alternate world versions of his stock character Michael Talbot. I am familiar with Michael Talbot through Tufo’s Zombie Fallout series and wasn’t sure if this Michael Talbot was supposed to be the same character from that series. Well, it wasn’t. I assume Tufo has created this character, and placed versions of him in many parallel worlds, often becoming the centerpiece in a fight for humanity. In Indian Hill Michael Talbot is just a typical, every day beer drinking, skirt chasing college student, in a stormy relationship with the girl of his dreams. One day, on a "just friends" date to Red Rocks, he and the entire audience are taken aboard an alien space ship where the men are forced to battle each other in gruesome gladiatorial style fights to the death. While Indian Hill is often uneven, scattershot, full of disturbing situations, immature writing and cardboard action, Tufo’s engaging story telling style ultimately saves the day. As I said in my less than glowing review of his Zombie Fallout novella Dr. Hugh Mann, Tufo is a no hold barred writer, who tells stories he believes fans want to read, without worrying about arbitrary things like editorial acceptance and literary value. So, for each book, he has just as much opportunity to write a fan pleasing winner as writing a head shaker. I had a lot of problems with Indian Hill. The novel is told in two parts, and the beginning was a solid, Stephen King style coming of age story with the latter part the science fiction, alien story. While both parts were interesting, it created an uneven feeling to the book in whole. I found the actions scenes to lack Tufo’s typically detailed choreography giving them a muddy, depthless feel. Some of the big fights came off rushed, leaving me under whelmed. I also was a bit disturbed by both the sexual violence towards women, although for the most part off camera, as well as the reward system harems. I understand what Tufo was doing, but it still left me uncomfortable. I felt like he was trying to use these situations to create strong women characters, yet it never was fully realized, missing an opportunity. Yet, despite these many issues, I ended up enjoying the raw style of the tale. Tufo is a storyteller, and this aspect of his writing never fails, just can often be muted by other issues. As a fan, you can’t help but to be drawn into this version of Michael Talbot. I like that here, Talbot wasn’t some badass former marine, but just some dumb ass kid who discovered a sort of cunning he never expected. I am quite interested to see where Tufo takes this tale, and how his evolution as a writer will progress. No matter what issues I may have had, I’m a fan of Mark Tufo and his twisted alter ego Michael Talbot.

Sean Runnette is the voice of Mark Tufo and Michael Talbot. In Indian Hill Runnette gives another strong performance delivering the quirky characters that jump off of Tufo’s page. Now, I have to admit, it’s a little strange at times, remembering that this isn’t the Michael Talbot from Zombie Fallout and having Sean Runnette makes that struggle all the more hard. Yet, Runnette really shines in the early part of the novel, with a younger, more naive Michael, and capturing the complex emotions hiding behind all the snark and bluster. Runnette helps smooth out some of the pacing issues, delivering a solid science fiction tale, with lots of humor. Fans of Mark Tufo’s previous audiobooks will know they are in the solid hands of a gifted reader.

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





Audiobook Review: Zombie Fallout 3.5: Dr. Hugh Mann by Mark Tufo

20 12 2012

Zombie Fallout 3.5: Dr Hugh Man by Mark Tufo

Read by Sean Runnette

Tantor Audio

Length: 2 Hrs 42 Min

Genre: Zombie/Plague

Quick Thoughts: I really didn’t like Zombie 3.5, but luckily it is more of a background piece, creating a frame of reference for the history of the virus in the Zombie Fallout series. Plus, it’s short. So, even though I didn’t really like it, I say, if you are a fan of the series, go ahead and give it a listen. You may like it more than me and it does provide some interesting backstory on the virus and some of the characters.

Grade: C

So, I’m about to take a risk with my life, but, I have to be honest, I don’t think of Mark Tufo as a great writer. I think Mark is a great storyteller with an enthusiasm that bleeds into every word. I also believe that Mark is willing to take more risks than many other writers. One of the reasons Mark’s fans love him so much is that he writes for them, to tell them stories that he as a fan of the genres he works would love to read. He doesn’t hold back at all. If he decides that a brain sucking alien would simply just be awesome at this point in the story, then, some slimy green thing with brain sucking appendages will show up, damn the critics. This is something I like about Mark Tufo, but I also knew that it’s something that would eventually lead me to writing a less than stellar review of one of his works, because, in many ways, I like to think I’m a little like Tufo, and willing to write what I want despite knowing that it could lead to his legion of fans hunting me down and dismembering me. I think there is a great freedom with independent authors to simply write what they want to write. Those that do it well, and truly embrace their fans, dealing with them honestly and not just shilling at them, will find that genre fans are some of the most loyal people in the world. Yet, most writers will also tell you that not all ideas work, and more specifically, not all ideas work with all people. Sadly, this was the case for me with Mark Tufo’s Zombie Fallout Novella, Dr. Hugh Mann.

Zombie Fallout 3.5 tells the story of an early 20th century obsessive research scientist, who makes a discovery that captures the imagination of the public as well are the interest of shadowy governmental figures. Yet, when Dr. Hugh Mann realizes this this discovery could lead to tragic consequences, he must break out of his social awkwardness and figure away to keep a new deadly new weapon out of the hands of those who may use it. I totally appreciate what Mark Tufo was attempting to do with this story, but for me, it just came off kind of silly. Tufo’s patented humor and gift for the absurd is pushed to the extreme here, and some may enjoy it, but for some reason I was just unable to keep my head from shaking and my eyes from rolling. Listening to Dr. Hugh Mann reminded me of when your best friend finally meets your new friends and attempts to tell a really corny joke that just falls flats. You want to laugh to make it seem better than it was, but what you really want to do is hide in the bathroom and curl up like a baby. I also think that while the novella is positioned between Zombie Fallout 3 and 4, that people who have read book 4 probably would enjoy it more. I have yet to listen to Zombie Fallout 4, and some of the things that happen in this novella seems to play into a new plot thread that should be starting in that book. On the positive side, the middle of the novella, where the focus moves from Dr. Hugh Mann to his daughter, is much better and definitely provides a little more heart to the tale. Then, it sort of falls apart in the end with a segment at Area 51, but, that’s OK. Luckily, Dr, Hugh Mann is more of a background piece, creating a frame of reference for the history of the virus in the Zombie Fallout series. Plus, it’s short. So, even though I didn’t really like it, I say, if you are a fan of the series, go ahead and give it a listen. You may like it more than me and it does provide some interesting backstory on the virus and some of the characters.

So, Sean Runnette. He’s this guy that I know almost solely as the voice of Mark Tufo’s work. I see Runnette a bit like Michael Talbot, a bit goofy, a bit awkward, but he seems to get the job done. Runnette is best when he is bringing Michael Talbot to life, and since Michael isn’t a character in this isn’t the best way to experience Runnette’s work. Yet, he still manages to do a pretty good job with it. It’s obvious that Runnette knows and appreciates the world created by Tufo, and is able to consistently portray the characters, reminding you of their history. This is important for a background piece like this. Runnette manages to keep it feeling like a novel within this world, despite some of the overall weirdness of the story.





Audiobook Review: Mutated by Joe McKinney

19 12 2012

Mutated by Joe McKinney (Dead World, Bk. 4)

Read by Todd McLaren

Tantor Audio

Length: 12 Hrs 56 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: Mutated is a great example of how a series can come together. For fans of this series, it’s like each previous novel was the wrappings and Mutated is the reward. A fun, furious Zombie tale with hidden depths and wonderfully flawed characters that Zombie and Apocalyptic fans shouldn’t miss.

Grade: A-

As we all know, the world is ending. You see, years ago, the Mayans had a crack team of astrophysicists, and experts on all sorts of sciencey whosumwhatsit, and used their vast stores of knowledge, with plenty of help from other worldly or extraterrestrial temporal drifters to make a calendar. Now, the Mayan’s were a frugal bunch, and didn’t believe in wasting anything from stone tablets to the entrails and marrow of their fallen enemies, and knowing through their calculations and hints from inter-dimensional Lizard Men exactly when the earth would be destroyed they saw no point in expanding the calendar past this date, Also, being stingy with their information, they decided not to actually write down how the world would end, knowing that exiled Nordic gods from Ragnarok would use that information to tip the balance between order and chaos. Now, we can only speculate to how the world will be thrown into chaos. Perhaps a global shifting of tectonic plates causing earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Maybe a freakish alignment of bodies within our solar system will force the shifting of our polar axis leading to a reversal of gravity briefly flushing humanity into space. Or, just maybe, the Lizard Men will open a portal to an alternate dimension, allowing Cthulhu and the Great Old One into our dimension to snack on our souls. The only thing I am sure of is that it won’t be Zombies. That would just be ridiculous. Zombies are made up creatures, and authors have full license to do with them as they please, whether they walk or run, moan or speak, shamble or even drive a car, Zombies basically just need to be sort of deadish and it’s all good. Because, Zombie, unlike Lizard Men, only exist in fiction and won’t be responsible for the Mayan Apocalypse.

Mutated is the latest entry in Joe McKinney’s Dead World series, which, in my book, is one of the more comprehensive and unique look at a Zombie Apocalypse. McKinney examines his changed world through a series of interconnected Zombie novels and novellas, that, while each entry in the series stands well on it’s own, all come together to create McKinney’s true vision. In Mutated, McKinney takes us past the initial breakout, and the collapse of society, to give us the first true Post Apocalyptic look at his world. While some communities have managed to create strongholds, an army lead by a mysterious Red Man is ravaging the landscape, using the undead as weapons against the living. Ben Richardson has spent the years since the initial outbreak traveling the country collecting stories for the definitive book on the Zombie outbreak, acting as a passive observer. Yet, when he comes upon an old acquaintance in jeopardy, he gets involved. He discovers that this group, along with an immature young man they meet along the way, may hold the key to finding a solution to the zombie scourge. While Mutated works well on its own, it pulls together many tangents from the past books in a way that really pays off for readers of the series. The Dead World really stands out with it’s depiction of the evolution of zombies. Many books have tackled this angle, but few have explored it with such depth as McKinney. McKinney creates a brilliant parallel between the devastated land, with its abandoned buildings and empty cities and the very nature of the Zombies themselves. Also, the characters in Mutated are better fleshed out than in his other entries to the series. McKinney gets us right into the head of his characters, exploring their motivations and base natures of these people. His group of unlikely heroes are flawed and frustrating, yet together as a group, become greater than themselves. McKinney does a great job here with his action scenes, including a finale that will leave you breathless. McKinney pulls back for these scenes, giving us multiple perspectives, intricately choreographed so that these scenes aren’t just a record of what happened, but an experience you share with the characters. It’s wonderfully done, and a whole lot of fun. Mutated is a great example of how a series can come together. For fans of this series, it’s like each previous novel was the wrappings and Mutated is the reward. A fun, furious Zombie tale with hidden depths and wonderfully flawed characters that Zombie and Apocalyptic fans shouldn’t miss.

Todd McLaren continues his solid work on this series. He brings the right amount of saltiness to a wide range of characters, from militia members and older smugglers to the undead themselves. His performance of the Red Man is spot on, with a slurred mumbling voice that still manages to drip with venom. Yet, the best part of McLaren’s performance is his handling the grand choreographed scenes of battle against both human and zombie hordes. McLaren careful pacing and cadence brings the right amount of tension to the scenes, while still keeping them from getting muddled. McLaren shifts focus like McKinney, capturing the kinetic pace within the hordes, while describing the scenes from the outsider perspective with deliberate pace. Mutated and The Dead World series stands out in the crowded sea of Zombie Audiobooks, and the pairing of McLaren and McKinney once again proves to be an excellent team.

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





Audiobook Review: Fever by Wayne Simmons

23 10 2012

Fever by Wayne Simmons (Flu Series, Bk. 2)

Read by Michael Kramer

Tantor Audio

Length: 8 Hrs 51 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse/Pandemic

Quick Thoughts: Fever is a brutal, frightening, kinetically paced apocalyptic thriller that takes it cues from some of the greatest works of the genre, yet Simmons keeps it feeling fresh and new. Combined with Flu, Fever is one of the notable entries of Zombie literature of 2012, and very well may find itself achieving classic status among fans of the genre. If Flu left you unsure of Simmon’s world, Fever will eradicate any doubts.

Grade: A-

I have to admit, I was a little unsure about Fever by Wayne Simmons. I enjoyed Flu, the first book of the series but I also said that my overall impression and its place in the pantheon of great zombie literature was highly dependent on where Simmons moves the series. Then, of course, I made the rookie mistake of browsing some reviews and summaries of the book before listening. Nothing specific in the critical analysis of the novels had me worried, in fact most were positive. What concerned me was that people were calling Fever a prequel to Flu. Now, I have nothing against prequels, but my concern was that I was interested in seeing where Simmons was taking the tale, and not how it began. Sure, I love a good zombie outbreak and pandemic novel, but Simmons already had me pretty well sold on the characters and left us with a significant cliffhanger. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Second novels in series are already problematic to begin with. Typically, it involves the expansion of the world, and is often a bridge novel to further entries in the series or setting up a conclusion. It is rare for a second novel to be better than the first. It has a role to play, but either some of the shine is stripped from the original, or it is so preoccupied with its role that it neglects any sort of congruent story telling. Yet, when people were calling Fever a prequel, it really did have me concerned. Luckily, I discovered that Fever isn’t a prequel novel, in the strictest sense, but an all encompassing tale that bookends the occurrences of Flu, giving us more back story on the world, introducing us to new characters all while picking up the ends of Flu tying all the pieces together seamlessly.

Fever is a novel told in three main parts. The first story gives us a glimpse at the original outbreak within a shadowy government lab in Ireland. This part is a claustrophobic, yet moody psychological zombie thriller full of danger and betrayal. On its own devices, the opening works as a short story, while creating more depth to the world Simmons is building. Then Simmons moves is into a pandemic tale reminiscent of the opening sequences of Stephen King’s The Stand. Here Simmons introduces us to a bunch of new players, struggling in a world or paranoia and obligation. The strength of this part of the story is the relationships between the characters. Simmons relationships are always complicated, creating tension that only explodes within the high stress environment of an apocalyptic event. While many of these relationships are untraditional, like a deaf man dealing with his unfaithful wife and her overbearing father, and a homosexual man trying to find safety for himself and his ex-wife who still feels betrayed by his coming out, there is at essence a recognizable humanity to all these characters that isn’t always easy to watch. As we move into the thirds part of the novel, where Simmons begins to blend the new characters in with the retuning players from Flu, we are thrust into a violent zombie apocalypse that bears a likeness to Brian Keene’s The Rising, one of the classics of the genre. It’s fast and furious, and no characters is safe as the one group tries to keep themselves safe from zombies and a corrupt government agency, all while trying to untangle the secrets to the outbreak. Simmons offers a lot of game changing revelations in this part, yet never allows the pace to slow in order for you to contemplate the implications until the novel comes to its brutal conclusion. What Simmons does is highly impressive. He not only expands his world, but takes the potential of Flu and increases it exponentially. Fever is a brutal, frightening, kinetically paced apocalyptic thriller that takes it cues from some of the greatest works of the genre, yet Simmons keeps it feeling fresh and new. Combined with Flu, Fever is one of the notable entries of Zombie literature of 2012, and very well may find itself achieving classic status among fans of the genre. If Flu left you unsure of Simmon’s world, Fever will eradicate any doubts.

Like Flu, I am still not 100% sold on Michael Kramer’s narration, but it is professional, well paced reading and his signature voice adds a tone of creepiness to the overall tale. While Kramer doesn’t really enhance the experience of the novel, neither does he distract, which is saying a lot because Fever definitely has its challenges for a narrator. One of the biggest challenges is bringing Shaun’s voice to life. Shaun is a deaf Irish man whose voice often was something others either ridiculed or used as an excuse to diminish or simply dismiss the character. At first, I found Kramer’s interpretation a bit robotic. While I struggled with the chosen voice for Shaun early, I thing as the character began to crack under the pressure, Kramer did a great job presenting the emotional turmoil of the character while staying true to his chosen voice. While I still feel I would have liked an Irish narrator, or at least one who could give the prose an Irish lilt, Kramer did a good job with the challenges presented.

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





Audiobook Review: Lord of the Mountains by S.M. Stirling

8 10 2012

Lord of the Mountain (Emberverse Series, Book 9) by S.M. Stirling

Read by Todd McLaren

Tantor Audio

Length: 12 Hrs 55 Min

Genre: Post Apocalyptic Fantasy

Quick Thoughts: Lord of the Mountains is an enjoyable read for people who have invested in these characters. Stirling offers a touch of everything fans have grown to love, but its frustrating lack of forward progression of the plot makes Lord of the Mountains more of as snack before the big meal.

Grade: B

As a fan of post apocalyptic literature, it is always kind of cool when a new Post Apocalyptic TV series is launched. I always enjoy Post Apocalyptic TV shows even move than movies, because they have the time to give a more intense look at the way society adapts to a major catastrophe. I have enjoyed shows like Jericho, Jeremiah, The Walking Dead and Survivors because they explore the characters reactions to having the world stripped away from them. So, of course, I was excited about the launch of JJ Abrams new series Revolution. Revolution has one of the added bonuses of utilizing one of my favorite apocalyptic tools, the stripping away of electricity. One of my favorite books deals with this subject, and that book is SM Stirling’s Dies the Fire. Among Post Apocalyptic fans, Stirling’s Emberverse often leads to heated discussions. Most agree that Dies the Fire was a pretty decent look at what would happen is the chemical and electrical reactions that control so much of out modern technology was taken away in an instance. Yet, push it past the original fall of society, and fan reaction becomes mixed. Stirling has added religious and cultural tones to his book that causes society to group together in interesting ways, from a coven of Wiccan to a group who believes they are directly descendant from the elves of Tolkien all forming new societies. Many people find the convenience of having people with certain skills that are appropriate to the changed society show up as another negative of the series. I for one have always been a huge supporter of the series. As with most Post Apocalyptic tales, the story focuses on the Survivors, and anyone who survives such a drastic societal change is going to have a bit of luck, that if you look at it from an outside perspective seems overly fortuitous. Yet, I think most fans of the series will agree on one thing, if you like Revolution, you should really check out Dies the Fire. You know that huge jump in time in the pilot that disappointed some more hardcore fans, this is what Dies the Fire explores. And it is quite brutal.

Lord of the Mountains is the 9th book in Stirling Change Series, and the 6th in the series focused on the second generation and in particular, the rise of Rudy, the High King of Montival. In Lord of the Mountain, the war that has been brewing between The Cut with their Allies The United States of Boise and the recently formed collection of allies that make up the High Kingdom of Montival is finally happening.  As Rudy deals with the politics and logistics of getting his kingdom on a war footing, he also determines the need for an official ceremony for solidifying him and his High Queen Mathilda as rulers of their land. With The Sword of the Lady in hand Rudy and Mathilda are pulled to site in a mountain, and undergo a strange experience that fracture time and space. So, I loved being back in Stirling’s Emberverse World, among characters I really enjoy. That being said, for the most part, this book seemed like filler to extend the series. As a fan of the series, this gives me mixed feelings. It’s like a quick trip with family, you really enjoy being around the people that have brought so much to your life, but nothing really gets resolved. In Lord of the Mountains, there is a lot of good stuff happening. Stirling writes some of the best battle scenes with an emphasis on logistics that don’t get bogged down in the minutia, but the forward progression is barely there. Stirling has been building up this war between The Cut and Montival for so long, and we get a major battle that barely scratches the surface of the war. He throws in some cool mythology, and starts to set the plate for the next phase of the series yet you know that this aspect of the series is coming to its big finales and Lord of the Mountains doesn’t seem to add too much to that moment.  If you have made it to this ninth book of the series, then you are probably here for the long hall. Lord of the Mountains is an enjoyable read for people who have invested in these characters. Stirling offers a touch of everything fans have grown to love, but its frustrating lack of forward progression of the plot makes Lord of the Mountains more of as snack before the big meal.

There is a reason last years entry to this series, The High King of Montival, received an Audie nomination. Todd McLaren is brilliant in his delivery of this series. Stirling does some interesting linguistic things with this series, creating subcultures which utilize not just traditional accents, but affected versions of traditional accents. Much of the different cultures vocal styling come from the extrapolation of early mimicry of pop culture versions of accents. So, there are real Brits and Scotts and Nordic types, then those who create a manner of speaking based on what they believe Brits and Scotts and Nordic types should sound like. McLaren handles this wonderfully, and sometimes, with comic effect. Oh, and then there is Sindarin, the elfish language used by the Dunedain Rangers. These sort of vocal qualities make this series a whole lot of fun to listen to. McLaren simply goes for it, bringing all the various cultures to life. His crisp but meticulous pacing allows us the easily follow the elaborate battle scenes without getting lost in their many details. I am glad I transitioned from the print to the audio version of this series. I think it brings more of a cinematic feel to the story, and one that makes the experience pleasurable, even when the book itself may not live totally up to expectations.





Audiobook Review: Flu by Wayne Simmons

28 09 2012

Flu by Wayne Simmons

Read by Michael Kramer

Tantor Audio

Length: 7 Hrs 52 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: Flu is a strong opening move, yet serves more as a set up to Simmons world, then a complete tale. The true place of Flu within the genre depends highly on how Simmons follows this up. He has placed many pieces in the right positions, now he just needs to execute. Fans of darker moodier Zombie tales who prefer detailed character psychology over lavish zombie mayhem will definitely want to give Flu a shot.

Grade: B

I have considered many things when contemplating the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse. There are so many factors one needs to consider including location, provisions, routes of escape, climate, weapons, personal tastiness, protective gears, and presidential nominees. All these factors can contribute to your zombie survival game plan. Yet one thing I have never considered was history.  As Americans, we have a much shorter span of history to consider. There are conflicts in America, often down racial, sexual or class lines, but it pales in comparison to the multigenerational century spanning historic conflicts that exist in other countries. How one would go about surviving the Apocalypse in Serbia, where religious and ethnic conflicts spanning centuries are quite different than an American like me whose biggest conflict is with the neighbor who never cleans up his dog crap. While I may not go out of my way to protect this neighbor due to his lack of neighborly consideration, our families have not been warring with each other for longer than my known relatives have been alive. Flu by Wayne Simmons is set in Ireland. History is a big deal in Ireland. Sometimes I think American forget how much strife exist in that one small country. There is a history of mistrust, abuse and violent action that many American’s forget about. So, how would an ex-member of the IRA respond to the governmental attempts to isolate and contain a zombie outbreak? How would a soldier who worked at suppressing the IRA respond during an Apocalyptic scenario to a former IRA member he encounters? Its questions and scenarios like this that adds levels to Wayne Simmons Zombie audiobook.

As someone who consumes a lot of Zombie fiction, it’s really hard to find a totally unique zombie outbreak scenario. Flu starts off with a lot of traditional zombie outbreak scenes. A devastating, completely lethal Flu is spreading across Ireland. The Government responds through quarantine, and creating camps to isolate the uninfected. Yet, when the infected dead begin to rise, seeking human flesh to consume, the country is thrown into inescapable chaos. While a group attempts to survive among the chaos, a shadowy military installation is observing the ruins of their country, searching for a solution, no matter what the cost. It’s all pretty standard boilerplate zombie apocalypse. Simmons throws in a few interesting twists. The Flu itself is more of an ever present threat than we see in many zombie novels. Just because someone has survived to this point, doesn’t mean they won’t come down with it. This element adds a bit of paranoid suspense to the overall mood of the novel. There isn’t just the fear of the undead, or the potential to be infected by direct contact. The Flu could actually be airborne, meaning anyone can catch it without even being bit by a zombie. This piles on the psychological distress of the novel, creating a mood that is more psychological thriller than straight horror. Simmons fills the characters with natural distrust, often pitting unlikely pairs together, like older brutish men with younger women, cops with criminals, then throwing in the historic mistrust of authority of the Irish. With these elements, Flu becomes a broody, moody character study, a dark path through humanities inner most prejudices, complicated by the extreme apocalyptic scenario. The Zombie action itself comes in smaller doses, but well conceived and executed. Simmon’s zombies so far are pretty traditional. There are hints of evolution and some interesting spins, like an obsession with fire, yet for the most part they are the shambling Romero style zombies that I find especially scary. Simmons also has some moments of horrific gore, yet it’s not gore for gore sake, but truly serves a purpose. Each scene is displayed to show the psychological affect on the survivors. One interesting theme Simmons uses with his characters is how a horrific event like this can make a good man do horrible things, plus provide redemption to the corrupt. Overall, Flu is a strong opening move, yet serves more as a set up to Simmons world, then a complete tale. The true place of Flu within the genre depends highly on how Simmons follows this up. He has placed many pieces in the right positions, now he just needs to execute.

Michael Kramer narrates Flu, and initially I had mix feelings about this. Kramer has always been a hit or miss type narrator for me. He’s a professional who has a great sense of story, and has a strong, deep voice. Yet, that deep voice limits him in many ways, particular in characterizations. Being set in Ireland, I would have loved to seen an Irish narrator like Gerard Doyle take on this project. Kramer does a pretty authentic sounding Irish accent, but uses it strictly for his characters. The narrative prose is read all in his default, accent neutral voice. Despite this, I though that Kramer’s voice was a decent fit for the mood of the tale. While I would have preferred an Irish narrator, Kramer gave the story a decidedly creepy feel. He reads Flu with a deliberate style that allows the listener to follow the story. His characters were decent. The delineation between characters wasn’t that great. He basically had a pretty standard Irish accent, and softened it, or hardened it, changing cadence and rhythms to delineate the characters, and it worked pretty well. His male characters were definitely better than his female characters, which is expected with a narrator with such a deep voice. While it may not have been the ideal match, Kramer makes it work. Fans of darker moodier Zombie tales who prefer detailed character psychology over lavish zombie mayhem will definitely want to give Flu a shot.

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

This Review is part of my weekly “Welcome to the Apocalypse” series.





Audiobook Review: Iron Gray Sea by Taylor Anderson

16 07 2012

Iron Gray Sea by Taylor Anderson (Destroyermen, Bk. 7)

Read by William Dufris

Tantor Audio

Length: 16 Hrs 23 Min

Genre: Military Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: While Iron Gray Sea doesn’t provide a ton of forward progression in the overall tale, it serves well as a set up for the world, placing the pieces and moving them in the right directions. Fans of the series will find this a little frustrating, but should love the latest series of battles which are expertly crafted, and truly the bread and butter of Anderson’s work.

Grade: B

For me, some of the hardest reviews to write are those of the latest edition of multivolume SFF epics. First off, because I probably have reviews of some of the past entries written and I need to consider a fresh angle to the latest review. Yet, mostly because as a reviewer my ultimate goal is to try to tease people just enough to get them interested in checking out a book. This isn’t so hard with a fun 8 hour audiobook. People are willing to take chances on a quick fun read. Yet, for a series like Taylor Anderson’s Destroyermen, it’s a much greater commitment. So far, the seven volume series translates roughly to around 120 hours of audiobook listening. So, when I write these reviews, where do I focus? Do I try and sell the book as a series, recapping from the beginning and showing people the overall grand scope of things? Or do I just try and focus on the latest edition, knowing I am limiting the interest of this post to those who already have started the series and are wondering whether to continue? It’s tough for a book like Iron Gray Sea. Iron Gray Sea is not in any way a standalone novel, and would never hold up as a standalone read. Often within a series of books there are arcs, subsets of the overall narrative that play out in a few volumes within the overall story. Iron Gray Sea finds itself not just within the overall Destroyermen world, but solely within one of its internal arcs. It is definitely a transitional novel, and I would never consider telling anyone new to the series to pick it up from this point. So, if you are new to the Destroyermen world, I highly recommend you head over to Fantasy Literature. Kat Hooper has recently started this series and has reviewed the first few novels. If you then become lured into this world, come back here as you move onto the latter novels, and feel free to share your thoughts on the series.

In Iron Grey Sea Matthew Ready and his mixed crew of Lemurian and human sailors on the USS Walker are fresh off the battle to suppress the Dominion attempts to overthrow the Alliance newest ally, The New British Isles. While getting repaired and preparing for a huge wedding, Ready gets word that the latest threat from our world, a modern Japanese vessel has been wreaking havoc. While in the east, the Alliance begins offensive operations in Indiaa, against the Grik, where they find that their assumptions about the enemy may lead to disaster. With each volume of The Destroyermen Saga the world seems to grow and grow. Iron gray Sea is definitely a transitional piece. It continues the arc of the movement from a defensive position with the Grik to offensive operations against them, and the furthering of the storyline of their struggles against the Domination and their twisted version of Catholicism. There is still the focus of developing new technology and the developing political situations both with their Lemurian Allies and the New British Isles. Anderson manages to throw some nicely formed wrenches into the proceedings, giving a new murkiness to what many would believe to be established facts in the world. Yet, much of the political and logistical machinations of the series are put on the backburner. Iron Gray Sea at its core is about the battles. Anderson’s battles are always well drawn, massive in scale, and realistic and in Iron Gray Sea, he brings about a series of tragic defeats and Pyrrhic victories for the Alliance. This is what I loved about this book. With so many series of late, the good guys have done so many things right that all their victories are massive one sided affairs. Here, the military leadership are fallible, and make crucial mistakes, while still managing to pull off some clever tricks. There are a few subplots that Anderson has placed on the backburner, particularly the direct dealings with the Dominion and a journey to South Africa, yet, he doesn’t forget them, moving them forward just enough that you know there will be more of a focus on these later. While Iron Gray Sea doesn’t provide a ton of forward progression in the overall tale, it serves well as a set up for the world, placing the pieces and moving them in the right directions. Fans of the series will find this a little frustrating, but should love the latest series of battles which are expertly crafted, and truly the bread and butter of Anderson’s work.

William Dufris continues his narration of this series. One of the reasons that I think this series works well in audio is that there are so many characters of multiple ethnicities and even species, and Dufris has an excellent range of voices that it helps the reader by giving them the vocal cues to keep them all straight. While Dufris typically has impeccable pacing, there were a few moments where he was almost speed reading this book. Luckily, this was mostly done during some of the set up and logistical passages, so by the time you got to the battles, Dufris regained his sense of pacing and delivered the highly complex details in an even pace allowing the listeners to follow along without getting confused. The Destroyermen Series is truly one of my favorite continuing military science fiction series, and it’s made even better in audio.

Check out my reviews of past editions of this series:

Book 5: Rising Tides

Book 6: Firestorm

Check out Kat Hooper’s Reviews of Books 1 to 3 (so Far) at:

Fantasy Literature





Guest Post & Giveaway: Mark Tufo & Fans on Fan/Author Interaction

5 06 2012

Last week, I posted a review of the third entry of one of my favorite new Zombie Apocalypse series Zombie Fallout 3: The End. Mark Tufo, the author posted a link to it on his Facebook page. He was happy with my review, which I gave a solid B grade. For me, giving a novel a B, especially the third book in an ongoing series, is pretty good praise. I had spent all of May listening to Zombie-themed novels, and Zombie Fallout 3 had been my 19th Zombie audiobook that month. Despite my Zombie fatigue, I really enjoyed the novel, and believed my review highlighted that.

Then came all the comments from Mark’s fans. Now, these comments were all positive. They were fans showing up to support their favorite authors. They told stories of how they hated to read before discovering Tufo’s work, or how one of his novels turned a member of their family into readers. Almost all of these comments declared that Mark Tufo was an A in their books. Someone even pointed out that I may not know good Zombie fiction if I only gave him a B.

I was blown away by the response. This type of passion doesn’t just come from the talents of an author. It comes from an author who takes his fans seriously. So, I contacted Mark and some of his fans and asked if they would be able to share their stories with me.

Mark is a self published author. His series was recently picked up by a top audiobook producer called Tantor Audio. With all the stories we’ve seen of prima donna behavior by self published authors, we often neglect the many that are doing it right. I believe Mark is one of those authors who is doing it right.

Now, I will turn this blog over to Mark and his fans:

 

Zombie Fallout – Readers and their author (me! – Mark Tufo)

Hi Bob, thank you for letting me have the opportunity to write a few words on your blog. I also appreciate the time you have spent listening to my books and giving reviews on them.

I’ve been asked this before from at least a dozen authors, What is your connection to your readers and more importantly how do you do it? I hope I don’t sound pretentious that’s not what I’m trying to convey. I think a lot of authors (not all) have a ‘I am superior to all others attitude’ and I think that comes across when they have communication with their readers, if they bother to write back at all. I’ve said it from day one and it’s just as true now as it was back then, I am a blue collar, former military man, raised in a blue collar, military family, I type two fingered and I have a few stories to tell that some folks find interesting.

I am humbled and honored EVERY time a reader contacts me to let me know that they got my book(s) and are in the process of reading it or have read it. I try to respond to every one of them in turn, I’ve always felt that if someone took the time out of their busy day to contact me then it is common courtesy that I do the same. This isn’t some super marketing ploy on my part although I do see the benefit of connecting with my readers. I can’t even count how many readers have thanked me for just responding to their queries, are you kidding me? I should be sending all of them Thank You cards for buying my books.

I love the interaction I have with my readers, I’ve received tons of suggestions on where folks think the books should head and at least a few (in jest) threats to my life should any of a couple of characters be injured or die at any point in the series. BT and Henry the wonder Bullie would be at the head of that list. I consider my readers to be extended family members of the Talbot clan, they root for some characters, they cry at the demise of some and hope beyond hope that a few others meet their untimely deaths. That they have a powerful enough connection to these characters to reach out to me, means that I am doing something right. I have created a world where folks can let all else in their life take a momentary backseat as they immerse themselves in this realm and I personally cannot think of a higher honor. Time is a precious commodity and that they are spending it with me and my stories is something I do not take lightly.

I am an un-established indie writer who most folks know little to nothing about, folks could spend their hard earned money on a million other books but that they get mine is humbling. I appreciate the time you have given me Bob to say a few words on your blog.

Web Site 

Facebook Profile

Twitter

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

Zombie Fallout Audible Page

Books

Zombie Fallout 

Zombie Fallout 2

Zombie Fallout The End…

Zombie Fallout 3.5

Zombie Fallout 4 — The End has Come and Gone

Zombie Fallout 5

Indian Hill

Indian Hill 2

Indian Hill Conquest

Timothy

Now, along with Mark, some of his fans have contributed their stories about interacting with him:

Rodney S. Carnahan – Mark Tufo Fan

I bought my first Zombie Fallout book just on a whim for my nook. I typed in “zombie” in the search box, and it came up. I figured, $2.99 and it may be good, what the hell. Well, wow was I hooked. His writing style just got me reeled in.

So after I devoured the first two books in the series I thought I would check to see if he had a Facebook account. By that time I had started on the third book.

You always see the movies or hear the stories about these wild marriage proposals guys do. Well Mark seemed to be a pretty reader friendly writer so I sent him a message. I asked him if he had any chance to include a proposal to my girlfriend in his next novel, I would be deeply indebted to him. He said sure, and a few weeks later, even let me write the proposal for the book.

You can read it towards the end of ZF4 when Mike and Gary are sitting on top of the roof surrounded by zombies. Mike decides to take a break and read the paper, just to pass the time
.
Well, then I just had to wait until the book got published. I downloaded it the first day and skimmed thru until I saw it. I got a huge smile on my face, and gave my nook to my girlfriend. “Oh my god, you’ve got to read this baby” I told her.
She couldn’t believe it. And kept asking if it was real. She said yes.

So now, we will be getting married July 14th. And the zombie genre is her new favorite type of book…

Barbara Bobbie Ayala – Mark Tufo Fan

In the beginning, I was a zombie nut, I loved all things zombie.  I would look for zombie books and movies high and low.  The unfortunate thing was that most everything out there stunk! This was before the big zombie craze that made all things zombie fashionable and cool. How fortunate for new zombie recruits to have such an opportunity now to have everything so easily presented to them. Not so for me, I had to HUNT for my fix.  And there was quite a few stinkers that I fell prey too.  I am a voracious reader and have been since childhood. I have a vivid imagination and reading is always a pleasure to me because I can picture the story in my mind and enjoy the mini movie that happens up there in the old brain pan.  So, getting to Mark and his books.  I found him on amazon and after having ordered some previous stinkers and a few keepers, I was keeping my fingers crossed on this one.  HOLY CRAP! When I got that book I was HOOKED!!! I loved his writing. He took the whole genre to a whole new level.  Mark’s writing had me laughing my ass off.  A writer who combined angst, fear, trepidation, anxiety, gore and HUMOR together was a rare find indeed.  He is a storyteller.  I fine art that few have the talent for.  I connected with him on Facebook and was absolutely delighted that he took the time to connect with his fan base. He sent me an autographed copy that I still have.  I actually have two copies of each of his books.  One for reading and one for, don’t you touch that book! I’ve read all his books in both his series more times than I can count.  And my husband and two of my girls are Tufo fan’s as well.  As his fame and popularity continues, he continues to make himself available to all us crazy zombie fans.. He and his wife Tracy bring together a wonderful collaboration of fan support and interaction.  It’s an unconventional membership to be sure, but I will truthfully say that Mark Tufo has done an incredible job of bringing together like minded individuals and creating a pseudo zombie world where having fun together and sharing experiences is a treat.  Yes I’m a zombie nut, but Mark made it fun to share my passion with others who had the same passion.  To top it all off, the dude is humble pie all over. He is a caring person, he and his wife go out of their way to include their fans in the progression of new books and have fun with us while doing it.  Including contests, giveaways, signed copies, unfair contests of the day.  My hope for Mark is that he becomes the next Stephen King, or Dean Koontz.  Not in comparison to them, but a stand alone author in his own right with his own fan base and own genre’. 

Lee Close – Mark Tufo Fan

How did I find Mark Tufo and his books is the first question, easy pure random luck on my part. As some one who loves Sci-Fi and Zompoc and Apocalypse style books I’m perpetually on the hunt for the next big read for me. So at this point I had pretty much read all of the Zompoc books on Amazon on my kindle so I did a random search and Zombie Fallout 1 popped up. At this point it was only 1gbp I thought oh well can’t hurt it will either be very good or really bad. Boy was I shocked I started reading and 8 hours I was finished ZF1 I was astonished so back I went and did a search for Mark Tufo and ZF2 and ZF3 and Indian Hills popped up so I bought them all.

Now nearly a year down the line I’ve read all of Marks books and to be honest there worth every penny, many people have asked me what’s so good about this guys stuff, well easy Mark’s stories pull at that bit of your psyche that asks what would I do in that situation, then you realize that the characters aren’t characters any more there people you know and when you look around you realize there’s a little bit of Mike Talbot in a lot of folks just as there is a little bit of Eliza in them. What is more important when you read the books they stop becoming a book and you can see the scene in your head you can almost smell it trust me in one particular battle that Mike had got into I had to put my sandwich down and I’m ex armed forces it was that visceral.
But wait there more these aren’t your run of the mill zombie books in amongst all the angst and grief and loss there is pure unadulterated comedy so much so I’ve actually sat on my couch laughing out loud with my wife looking at me like I’m crazy. As to Marks other books if you’re a sci-fi fan Indian Hill definitely hits the spot again that same sense of being there and seeing it all thru Mike Talbot’s eyes is there again. Mark has done something that any writers have failed and tried Mike Talbot in ZF is the Same Mike in IH, however there’s differences some subtle some not so but the thing is I’m not going to spoil it for a new reader my advice read ZF1 then read IH1 and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Mark is very much a people person he talks to his fans every day gets them involved in his books and his every day life which for many readers is a fantastic thing. I was also asked recently who Mark wrote like which kinda stumped me however I have an answer Mark is a Mix of Terry Pratchett/Stephen king and Isaac Asimov. I see a great future ahead for Mark and his books With ZF6 due out soon and IH3 and his new book Spirit clearing its a good year to start reading. PS the only book I haven’t read is Timothy yeah I’m scared of clowns I really don’t need the nightmares about that thank you very much lol.

Giveaway: This Giveaway is now over, and the winners are being contacted.

Tantor Audio is offering two sets of the audiobook editions of Zombie Fallout 1 and Zombie Fallout 2 on MP3 CD. This audiobook is narrated by Sean Runnette, and I highly recommend them. You can check out my reviews of both novels by clicking on the titles above.

Entering is simple.

1. In the comment section, indicate that you are entering the giveaway.
2. In the comment section, answer the following question: It’s the Zombie Apocalypse and you are holing up in a secure underground bunker. What author would you want to be holed up with you, and why?
3. Let me know how to contact you, if you win.

This Giveaway will end Sunday, June 10th at Midnight. Winners will be chosen by a random number generator and contacted within 24 hours. If you fail to respond within 2 days of being contacted, I will move to the next person on the list. This giveaway is US only.

 

 





Audiobook Review: Zombie Fallout 3: The End

31 05 2012

Zombie Fallout 3: The End by Mark Tufo

Read by Sean Runnette

Tantor Audio

Length: 10 Hrs 52 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: Zombie Fallout 3: The End is definitely a transitional book, developing the mythology of the series and moving the characters into place for upcoming conflict. Yet, unlike most transitional books, Zombie Fallout 3 has its own voice, and is a fun, compelling story within the arc of the series. Tufo balances a tightrope between dark hopelessness, and laugh out loud humor and reaches the other side with only a few scratches.

Grade: B

Endings are often bittersweet, but as we close out Zombie Awareness Month this ending isn’t just bittersweet, it’s also sort of strange. For a month dedicated to increasing awareness of Zombies and undead related issues, it seems almost prescient that for the past week the news has been full of stories about biohazards, chemical spills, mystery rashes, uncontrollable plane passengers, and attacks featuring biting and seemingly high tolerances to physical injury. Despite my love of the genre, I have never felt that a Zombie Apocalypse was anything more than a clever plot devise. Oh, I believe in the possibilities of a lot of potential apocalyptic cataclysms, but Zombies would have been quite low on my list. Sure, we hear the occasional reports from Africa about a disease causing children to fly into uncontrollable rages, but we chalk this up as over exaggerations of diseases with dementia like side affects. Yet, with all these stories, it’s hard not to symbolically hold your breath, waiting for the next blood drenched shoe to drop. I started Zombie Awareness Month with a road trip, oddly listening to Zombie Fallout 2, which is basically a Zombie roadtrip novel. I ended the month, listening to Zombie Fallout 3: The End, as more and more I begin to question whether or not The End will be upon us soon. It seems that the Zombie Fallout novels are the literary version of an ear wig, whispering to me words of doom and the impending end of all things.

Zombie Fallout 3: The End picks up right after the cliffhanger ending of Zombie Fallout 2. Michael Talbot family has again barely escaped another massive zombie attack orchestrated by Eliza, their chief zombie vamp antagonist. Now, Michael and company are recouping in what may be the last bastion of human controlled safety, an island base under control of the military. Yet, despite their feeling of safety, they know it’s only a matter of time before Eliza and her hordes show up again. Zombie Fallout 3 is another fun edition to the Zombie Fallout series, and does a good job establishing what to expect for the rest of the series. It continues to build its mythology, adding more supernatural details to the established Zombie Apocalypse scenario and revealing some key pieces of information about some of the characters. As usual, Mark Tufo infuses his desolate and viscerally putrid scenarios with an almost inappropriate humor that only underscores the desperate situations the characters find them in. There are definitely some plot holes in this edition, yet they are holes that have a potential for being filled in in interesting ways. Tufo also picks up some threads that he left dangling with the first two books, yet, they serve more as a tease for things to come then an answer to the lingering questions the series has invoked. Zombie Fallout 3: The End is definitely a transitional book, developing the mythology of the series and moving the characters into place for upcoming conflict. Yet, unlike most transitional books, Zombie Fallout 3 has its own voice, and is a fun, compelling story within the arc of the series. Tufo balances a tightrope between dark hopelessness, and laugh out loud humor and reaches the other side with only a few scratches.

I’m pretty sure that Sean Runnette would not want to meet me in person, because if I ever heard his voice, I would run over to him and start giving him suggestions on how to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. You see, in my world, Sean Runnette is Michael Talbot. He has totally become this character to me. Runnette brings this series to life for me in ways that only a narrator who has totally embraced his character can. He really has done such a good job capturing the tone and pacing of this series, bringing each character to life in interesting ways. I have even begun to accept his female voices, which I struggled with in the earlier novels. I have really come to enjoy this series, and the narration of Runnette and the overall quality production of the audio version have a lot to do with it.





Audiobook Review: Zombie Fallout 2: A Plague Upon Your Family by Mark Tufo

7 05 2012

Zombie Fallout 2: A Plague Upon Your Family by Mark Tufo

Read by Sean Runnette

Tantor Audio

Length: 10 Hours 59 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: The Zombie Fallout series is a blue collar, gore filled zombie series that will appeal to people who are looking for their apocalyptic literature to offer a few laughs along with the horror and tension. While A Plague Upon Your Family suffers a bit from being the second book in the series, Tufo has created some interesting subplots that has me looking forward to the next edition of this undead saga.

Grade: B

One of the classic storylines that seem to permeate the Zombie sub genre is the Zombie Roadtrip. While you would think the tendency would be to hole up and fortify against the hordes of your friends and neighbors who now want to determine just how closely your flesh resembles the meaty taste of chicken, yet all too often our Survivors take to the road. There are many reasons for the Zombie Roadtrip. Perhaps you just can’t find someplace safe so your only hope to avoid slaughter is to stay on the move. Perhaps you have no stores of food saved up, and must move from place to place foraging cans of spam and Evian. Yet, more likely, there is someone you love, somewhere far away from you, and you just have to know that they are OK. I recently took a non-Zombie related roadtrip, traveling to visit my brother and his family in Alabama. One thing that struck me is the vastness of this country we live in. I traveled a mere 850 miles, a small fraction of the highways and byways of this country, much of it along the Metropolis of the East Coast, and despite this being some of the more densely populated space in this country, it is really quite spacious. There is a tendency for modern technology to make this world small. With a simple cell phone I can connect across thousands of miles. In my truck I can travel between Philadelphia and Alabama in a single day (if I push it.) Yet, strip away the trappings of modern society, where you are forced to scavenge for fuel and supplies, and transportation is unreliable, and this country because immensely bigger. Now, through in a dash of flesh eating crazies, and you have the Zombie Roadtrip.

Zombie Fallout 2: A Plague Upon Your Family by Mark Tufo starts off immediately where Zombie Fallout ended, with Michael Talbot and his family barely escaping the Zombie siege of Little Turtle. Now, the small band of Survivors, who along with the Talbot Family consist of Big Tiny, a large gruff African American, the Talbot’s lesbian neighbor, Tommy, a slow former Wal Mart greeter whose strange spirit guide may be more than a delusion, and Henry the English Bulldog, must travel across an apocalyptic landscape to Michael Talbot’s Mother-In-Law’s farm in North Dakota with a increasing host of zombies on their tales. Tufo does a lot of interesting things with Zombie Fallout 2. While much of the book is a by-the-numbers style Zombie Road Trip novel, he sets up supernatural elements to his story that will hopefully pay off in the later books of the series. While Zombie Fallout 2 is still full of irreverent and horrific fun, some of the fresh polish of the first novel has worn off. I wasn’t as engaged overall with the tale, but found a lot of what Tufo was foreshadowing in future editions of this series more interesting than the book itself. Michael Talbot has a sitcomy feel to his character, that comes off fresh and funny early, but risks becoming a one joke wonder quickly. Part of my problem is reconciling the goofy, politically incorrect demeanor of the main character with the hard core former survivalist, former military aspects of his story. Yet, despite some misgivings, I feel Tufo has a plan for this character and series and I trust him enough to feel like these uneven parts of his main characters persona will come together in the end. The Zombie Fallout series is a blue collar, gore filled zombie series that will appeal to people who are looking for their apocalyptic literature to offer a few laughs along with the horror and tension. While A Plague Upon Your Family suffers a bit from being the second book in the series, Tufo has created some interesting subplots that has me looking forward to the next edition of this undead saga.

While it took me a bit of time to get used to Sean Runnette’s offbeat narration in the first novel in the series, I was totally ready and willing for Runnette to once again inhabit the persona of Michael Talbot. Sometimes a role is just made for a certain actor, and I think this is one of those situations. One of the problems with this is I’m pretty sure, in my mind, Runnette will be typecast as Michael Talbot and if I listen to any of his other work, it will be hard not to hear Talbot in my head. I enjoyed most of his other characterizations. I felt he did a better job on the women character this novel, which I found to be his weakness in the first book of the series. He also handled the pacing well, and clearly delivered the action scenes. Yet, all of this pales in comparison to his ability to squeeze the humor and absurdity out of every scene in this novel. The humor is really what sets the Zombie Fallout series from so many other zombie novels, and Runnette delivers the laugh out loud moments perfectly. I definitely am looking forward to listening to the third novel in this series.

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