Audiobook Review: The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor: Part 1 by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonasinga

9 10 2013

The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor Part 1 by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

Read by Fred Berman

Macmillan Audio

Length: 7 Hrs 46 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: Through surprising deceptive marketing, this is only the first half of the promise finale of what magically is now being called “A Four Book series” instead of the original label of a trilogy. What follows is a ranty rant rant.

Grade: Incomplete

Note: This review is less of a review, and more of a rant. Of course, everybody likes a good rant, so enjoy.

There has been a lot of talk about blogger responsibilities, and how in reviews we need to “Review the book, not the author.” Well, I’m going to call bullshit on this. We, as bloggers, have a little slice of the internet in which to talk about our experiences with books, and there, we should have the right to do just that, review the experience. If something about an author affects your ability to enjoy the experience of the book, feel free to review it. It’s you slice of the internet, and I think bloggers need to be honest. I would implore people to be respectful and, well, not act like raging dicks, but again, your house, your house rules.  Yet, there is more than just the content of a book the affects your experience. Whether it be your own expectations, the cover, any interaction with the author or publisher, or even your own ignorant beliefs, if it affects your enjoyment, it does a disservice to the book not to mention it. For example, if I hate a book, because I have a strong dislike of the fact that the author once marched in the mummers parade, it’s actually benefits the book if I mention that is what affected my negative experience. Your readers will learn your peccadilloes, and adjust their expectations based on them if you are honest.

All of that is to say that despite the fact the story was pretty good, and the narration was decent, my experience with The Walking Dead: Fall of the Governor Part One, was one that was akin to watching a drunk man kick a puppy, while screaming invectives at school children. The dude may be, in reality, a nice guy, but in that situation, he is an utter douchenoodle.  My experience began, when I was thinking about how the cover of this latest walking dead novel was kind lame compared to the last two. It’s all good, Lame covers rarely affect my enjoyment of a book. Yet, I flicked my finger over the audible app to get a closer look, and there, under the words “Fall of the Governor” in dark lettering on a dark background, it says “Part 1.” WHAT IS THIS PART ONE SHIT? I thought. Maybe I only downloaded half the book on audible, and needed to download Part 2? Nope. Listening to the book intro, Mr. Fred Berman, our audio guide through the series, also said, PART 1. So, my anger began to grow. I was already surprised that the finale was significantly shorter than the first two novels. With what Kirkman said we should expect in the final novel, it’s length surprised me. i expected it to be longer than the first two, not shorter. So, I reread the product description. No where on the Audible page, beyond the cover image did it say Part One. In fact, the product description contained this sentence:

“…readers will experience a terrifying finale befitting the cultural phenomenon that this great series has become.”

LIES! MOTHER FUCKING LIES!

Readers will experience the first half of a terrifying finale because…

THESE ASSHATS SPLIT THIS BOOK IN TWO.

So, when will there be a part two. Who the hell knows? Yet, I know when it comes out, they sure as hell won’t be charging me half price for the book. I just spent a full credit to buy a half of a book. I would be OK with this if they let me know this beyond a small little tag on the cover. I would have been happy telling fans of The Walking Dead that this was a pretty cool story, about Rick, Glenn and Michonne’s first disastrous meeting with the Governor, which is just different enough from the TV show to be enjoyable. I liked the story. Not as much as The Rise of the Governor. There was less zombie action, and more person on person cruelty, not to mention a brutal off camera rape scene. Yet, the grit was what you expect from The Walking Dead. Yet, I can’t in good conscious give this book a good rating, not based on content, but on the deceptive marketing. It affected my ability to enjoy it. As I got close to the ending, with my fears being realized, I kept getting angrier and angrier.

So, yeah. this isn’t much of a review. More like a Bob rant with cussing and mean faces. Let’s call this my review: PART ONE! Part two will come when the bastards give me the rest of the book I paid for.

So, for shit and giggles, here’s the initial imagery of the book.

Yet, the released version looks like this:

Anyone notice the difference?

EDIT: I found a statement about this from Kirkman’s editor, Brendon Deenan:

“When the draft for the third and final book of the Governor series, THE FALL OF THE GOVERNOR, came in, it was much too long to be published as one book, but we knew (Robert, Jay and I), that fans of the series would want the whole story, the Governor’s story in full, as raw as possible and as true to Robert’s vision as we could get it. And that’s the book Robert and Jay handed in, the Governor in all his glory ‘til the bitter end. So we made the tough but ultimately necessary decision to split the conclusion into two parts—the first available now, and the second picking back up in March with the terrifying, concluding pages of this series.”

I call Bullshit. If you had enough time to know that the book needed to be split in two, you had enough time to let the marketing material obviously reflect that. Sneaking a Part One onto the cover in easily overlooked lettering was not enough. This book came in under 8 hours. Even if you double it the book would have been around 15 hours, not “too long to be published.” My guess was that the book was long enough that they realized THEY COULD split it in two, not they HAD TO split it in two. So, yeah… bullshit.

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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.





Audiobook Review: Zom-B Underground by Darren Shan

8 05 2013

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2013 Zombie Awareness Month

Zom-B Underground by Darren Shan (Zom-B, Bk. 2)

Read by Emma Galvin

Hachette Audio

Length: 3 Hrs 39 Min

Genre: YA Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: Zom-B Underground is an interesting step in what is getting to be quite an intriguing little story. While some frustration still remains with our main character, especially for those of us who know the difference between UHF and VHS (oldies), I found the new direction of her angst much more understandable.

Grade: B

Note: Zom-B Underground is the 2nd Book in the series, and this review may contain spoilers for Book 1. You have been warned. And mocked, but mostly warned.

There has been a recent trend with me in my Young Adult Scifi and horror reads where a protagonist will totally annoy the craphole out of me in Book 1 and when I reluctantly pick up Book 2, I find that they have actually grown on me for some reason. I find this odd, because in adult fiction, I tend to find second books in series and trilogies less satisfying then their prequels. So, I was trying to figure out if this was something in the nature of Young Adult novels that has me react this way. Now, I’m a man who’s closer to 40 than 14 so my perspectives are different than that of most of the target audience of these books. I think at the core of Young Adult novels, particularly the types I read which tend to be Apocalyptic or Dystopian tales, there is an element of rebellion.  I think, often in YA debuts, the rebellion is either internal or intimate, striking out against the established beliefs of your close circle or family, and when we move away from the first novel, the rebellion becomes more external, and broader. I think, due to my place in this world, I find  that the initial rebellion against parents or guardians tends to come off bratty, based on some misconception of the world but when they strike out against the establishment, whether it be a corrupt government or just the overall world view, they become more reasonable. In Zom-B, there was an added elements, B just seemed to want to strike out against anything, because she was unable to strike out against her father. In a way, her anger was reflecting her establishment, buying into the world view of a racist father. Her rebellion was selfish based in weakness and she became more of a bully projecting the abuse of her father onto those beneath her. In Zom-B I found her not just unlikable, but reprehensible, almost bordering or irredeemable at a gut level. I find this is rare in YA because much of the development is based on the fact that these younger characters can break away from their upbringing and their mistakes can be redeemed. Now, despite my reaction to B, or maybe because of this reaction I was quite interested in where the author was taking the series.

After the turbulent ending of Zom-B, B is now a Zombie. Yet, something about her is different. During an encounter with a group of Zombie fighting teens, she has an awakening, no longer a moaning shambling zombie, but aware. She finds she is part of a strange experiment involving an anomalous group of aware walking dead. Yet, information is sparse and freedom a pipe dream, and B finds herself at the mercy of people she doesn’t trust. So, I found Zom-B Underground a much more enjoyable listen. Here, B is still a flawed character, but now her hatred and vitriol is turned towards more deserving people. I like that Shan is showing a reasonable transformation in B. She hasn’t instantly become a better person, but you get the feeling she is honestly trying. It’s definitely a help that she’s away from her father, but I doubt we’ve seen the last of him. I actually found the story itself quite original. While I felt its predecessor had more gut punch shocks and twists, Zom B Underground had enough small, well executed twists that despite the obviousness of some of them, there were enough to keep the reader on their toes. As far as down right creepiness, Underground wins by a land side. Its crazy finale is filled with some twisted, Acid Trip style horror images that really, I didn’t need in my brain. Let’s just say their may have been spiders involved. And a clown. Well, all sorts of creepy. Shan continues to build a nice little mythology, giving small reveals here are there, but not even coming close to filling out the whole picture. Where Zom-B left me thinking "Hmmmm…" Underground pushed me more into the "What the holy hell is going on and what exactly is wrong with this man for putting these images in my tidy little brain?" category. Did I mention the clown and his twisted accessories? *shivers* My only complaint is that each small book so far in this series feels more like a chapter in a larger novel than a complete work able to stand on it’s own. There is an almost serial feel to the Zom-B series and if that is something that frustrates you as a reader you may want to wait until a few of the books are available before jumping into the pool. Zom-B Underground is an interesting step in what is getting to be quite an intriguing little story. While some frustration still remains with our main character, especially for those of us who know the difference between UHF and VHS (oldies), I found the new direction of her angst much more understandable. I was sorta interested in seeing where Shan was going to take us in Zom-B Underground, now WANT BRAINS THEN ZOM-B CITY NOW!

Emma Galvin is just a fun narrator, whether she’s using an American or English accent. Here she’s busting out the English accent to bring this story to life. Here accent is relatively soft, but authentic sounding. She brings the wide array or characters to life. She really manages to capture both the brash, in-your-your face external Becky, while also showing her insecurities in her internal dialogue. This struggle is really the essences of the first two Zom-B novels and Galvin delivers it beautifully. She also really ups the pacing, alternating between some dreamlike horror sequences with some fast paced action without missing a beat. Some of the issues with the prequel, where twists that come into play in print just couldn’t be delivered affectively in audio, are no longer and issue, making audio an ideal medium for this story. Zom-B Underground was a quick, fun, and all sorts of creepy listen that had enough thrills for adults, both young and well, not so young.

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





Audiobook Review: Flip This Zombie by Jesse Petersen

7 05 2013

 

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2013 Zombie Awareness Month

Flip This Zombie by Jesse Petersen (Living With the Dead, Bk. 2)

Read by Cassandra Campbell

Tantor Audio

Length: 7 Hrs 29 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: . Jesse Petersen’s Living With the Dead series may honestly be the most fun you can find in the Zombie Apocalypse. Petersen combines a whimsical tongue in cheek storytelling style that perfectly balances her intense action and gore filled zombie mayhem. She has created two characters that readers simply cannot avoid becoming invested in.

Grade: B+

If there is one thing that I feel my blog has truly done to help better society is to offer various rules and tips for Surviving in a post apocalyptic world. Now, I am no survivalist, hell I don‘t even like camping. I have no martial arts or weapons training. I can’t tell you which barks can cure herpes, or how to build a fire using old Field and Stream Magazines and your sister’s glasses, but I am an avid reader of apocalyptic fiction, and I have learned plenty of common sense lessons along the way. For instance, if you find yourself in a world without power, perhaps due to Alien Space Bats or superplague, eventually food will be at a premium. Yet, if you meet a strange old man cooking stew and he offers you a taste, always determine exactly what kind of meat he is offering you. You see, simple. No body wants to become the accidental cannibal that all your friends at you post apocalyptic parties will make fun of. I mean, I have a friend who once accidentally smoked crack and we never let him hear the end of it. He didn’t realize it was crack, and had no reason to suspect when his new friend handed him a pipe that it wasn’t some herbal clove blend. Each new book offers new insight, new twist on old themes, yet in general, these types of tips remain true. So, today’s tip comes from FLIP THIS ZOMBIE! Of you ever stumble across a scientist, living alone in a underground bunker/secret government lab where all his associates are gone or dead, offering you a potential cure to the zombies plaguing your land and he has no problems acting all firstly with you right in front of your chosen mate, and when his motives are questioned he quickly pulls a weapon, well, it’s probably not too unreasonable to perhaps be somewhat skeptical of his motives. Sure, hope for a cure is good, but verify, on your terms. Skepticism may keep you alive and not some creepy weirdo’s scientific plaything. I think we can all agree on two things. First, that becoming some creeps scientific play thing is not a good career path, and second, accidentally smoking crack is ridiculous. I mean, really.

The Zombie Apocalypse has seemed to change everything for Sarah and David. Before the dead began to rise, Sarah was stuck in a dead end office job and David was an unemployed and unmotivated gamer. Now their marriage is invigorated and they have seemed to found their calling in Zombie extermination. Yet, all that could change when a strange note leads them to a brilliant scientist who may have discovered the key to ending the zombie apocalypse. Jesse Petersen’s Living With the Dead series may honestly be the most fun you can find in the Zombie Apocalypse. Petersen combines a whimsical tongue in cheek storytelling style that perfectly balances her intense action and gore filled zombie mayhem. She has created two characters that readers simply cannot avoid becoming invested in. Yet, the strength of this series, the love of these two odd yet wonderful characters may also be its weakness. Because Sarah really pissed me off in this book. I was so fist tightening, blood pressure skyrocketing upset with how Sarah acted in this book, that it became almost distracting to me. Let’s face it, Sarah is pretty badass. She’s funny, charming and unlike almost any character you see slaughtering the undead these days. In the first book, it was David who often came off as a petulant whiner and provoked a guttural annoyed reaction from me. I understand why she was acting the way she was, the potential for hope. For a cure. Yet, I think if she handled it any other way maybe they could have dealt the situation so much better. First off, she blames all Dave’s reactions on jealousy. Let’s see, she meets an attractive young scientist who ignores Dave, who reaches out and strokes her bicep, whose touch makes her feel all warm, who revels in the discomfort he is causing her marriage, who even she realized may have an ulterior motive in causing strife between the couple, yet Dave’s jealousy is totally a irrational response manifested in his distrust of a scientist in an underground lab whose coworker seemed to have all disappeared or died. She derides Dave for making decisions that affect both of them without consulting her, than does the exact same thing, Now, Dave annoyed me at times to. His petulance was at times caustic but Sarah was the perspective character and her self deception was so apparent in her inner monologue it drove me crazy. Luckily, the story was a lot of fun, and when some of these issues were resolved, I breathed easier and just went with it. I think my visceral reaction to Sarah and the jeopardy she (and Dave as well) put their relationship in highlights how utterly bought into this series I am. This is one of the few series where I actually like the romantic elements because it’s a grown up, quirky and relatable type of romance within a fully realized Zombie apocalyptic setting. Petersen ended the novel in a way that set up Sarah and Dave’s next adventure so well, I want it now. So, someone give it to me. Now I say!

Cassandra Campbell brings these characters alive in a way that is almost scary, hell perhaps scarier than a bionic zombie attempting to munch on your innards. Being a first person POV her main job is capturing the essence of Sarah, and she does this in spades. She delivers each line with such assuredness in who Sarah is that she accentuated the humor, putting your right in the head of the character. It’s so much fun to listen to. Yet, to make matters better, she handles all the other characters with equal panache. She throws herself right into them delivering the perfect voices for bratty kids, apocalyptic camp survivors and, of course, mad scientists and grumpy husbands. Cassandra Campbell manages the humor wonderfully. It’s not an easy task to balance the dark apocalyptic scenario of a zombie apocalypse with the cheeky humor of Sarah and make if feel genuine, but she really pulls it off. While much of the novel is typical apocalyptic fare, the truly special thing about this series is its unique voice which is captured perfectly by both the author and narrator.

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





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