Audiobook Series Review: Zombie Fallout by Mark Tufo

22 05 2013

It’s no secret that I have become a fan of Mark Tufo. The experience of being a Mark Tufo fan is a unique on, one that needs its own clever name, like Tufooties or Tofunguys. Being a fan of Mark Tufo is like being a fan of your friend’s band. They may be raw and do things that mainstream rock bands would scoff at, but they are having so much fun doing it that it’s infective. I haven’t loved every moment. I found the novella that comes between the two man arcs of the series a bit on the head shakingly dumb side, but this is because Tufo is a risk taker, and isn’t bound by convention. This is a man whose main character, Mike Talbot, appears as a main character or some iteration of his exists in almost every series he has created. It’s a strange sort of multiverse that that I find fascinating.

The Zombie Fallout series has been a strange, wild ride. The original Zombie Fallout was a funny, disgusting, politically incorrect, horrifying relatively traditional initial Zombie Outbreak story, with only hints of things to come. The first three novels of the series started to flesh out the underlying mythology of the novel while Michael and his assortment of friends and allies attempt a cross country journey from Colorado to Maine, with some stops along the way. Along for the ride is Tommy, a strange boy that could be labeled special, who is more special than any of them can imagine.  In the initial book, Mike meets a strange, almost aware Zombie woman, and something about her just doesn’t sit right. He decided to not to kill her, and will regret that decision for the rest of the series. This woman is more than just a zombie, and more than just human and becomes the main nemesis of the series, focusing on and desiring the utter elimination of Michael and everything he holds dear.

The central theme of the first three books is Michael’s love for his family, and the loyalty to those in his inner circle. It’s not a clean apocalypse for the Talbot clan, the lose people along the way, suffer grievous injuries and even supernatural style psychic attacks. They lose a member of their group to Eliza, thus beginning the second arch of the series where the group goes on the offensive and takes the fight to Eliza. 

Last year, I listened to and reviewed all the first Three Zombie Fallout novels and the bridge novella. You can Click on the cover images below for my reviews. This year for Zombie Awareness Month, I decided to listen to a review the next three novels all in one series post.

The First Arc

The Second Arc

Zombie Fallout 4: The End Has Come and Gone by Mark Tufo

Read by Sean Runnette

Tantor Audio

Length: 11 Hrs 11 Min

Grade: B+

Zombie Fallout 4 got the second arc rolling on the right foot. Mike and his friends and family are on the offensive looking to end Eliza and rescue one of their own. Along the way we reunite with some old friends and make some new. This had a lot of the feel of the early novels, yet told from multiple points of view, eventually all coming together for an amazing heart stopping finale. While the pacing at times was uneven, the ending was thrilling and brilliant and opened up a whole new avenue of exploration for this series. We even get to see some more in the evolutionary process of the zombies, which doesn’t bode well for out survivors. Long time fans of the series will find a lot of payoffs here, including the final resolution of one characters story. The End Has Come and Gone was a furiously fun novel with all the perfect Mike Talbot touches.

Zombie Fallout 5: Alive in a Dead World by Mark Tufo

Read by Sean Runnette

Tantor Audio

Length: 11 Hrs 9 MIn.

Grade: B-

I found Zombie Fallout 5: Alive in a Dead World a bit disappointing. Now, it was still a lot of fun, but it did little to move the overall story forward, and focused a lot on some really annoying characters, particularly an old surly woman who for a moment I almost started to like until she turned into the spawn of Satan’s Evil Twin and another women who helps out Mike and his group, but has some of her own issues. Mostly, I felt Michael being away from his family and somewhat socially isolated in this tale contributed a lot to it’s disappointing tone. Michael is at his best when surrounded by his family, and here there were times where he just didn’t seem himself, for good reason. There were some especially gruesome moments, particularly one involving some cats, and some real emotional scenes, but I found the darker tone, lack of forward progress and focus on unlikable characters to hurt the book over all. I should add, the epilogues, while important to the mythology of the book just didn’t work for me as well this time.

Zombie Fallout 6: ‘Til Death Do Us Part by Mark Tufo

Read by Sean Runnette

Tantor Audio

Length: 14 Hrs 51 Min

Grade: B+

Whatever issue I had with Book 5 was more than made up for in Zombie Fallout 6: ‘Til Death Do Us Part. Mark Tufo pulls it all together in the excellent completion of this arc of the series. The highlight of this novel was the fleshing out of Eliza’s History leading up to her final confrontation with Michael. Along the way, we meet an interesting new character names Azile, and have a fun Zombie Road Trip and Zombie siege all in preparation for a kick ass finale that pays off for the listener as well as sets up the series for some new explorations. While there may have been a few bumps along the way, Tufo more than justifies the trust his fans put in him to create a fun yet nauseating Zombie apocalypse tale with characters you grow to love. I look forward to seeing where the series goes next, with so many tantalizing possibilities.


Sean Runnette may possible be Mark Tufo’s alternate universe twin, I’m just not sure which is the goateed evil version. It’s almost scary how well Runnette captures Michael Talbot and his band of family and friends. I have not listened to Runnette in other books, and it always takes me a moment to convince myself that Michael Talbot hasn’t become a narrator. I will always remember my first reaction when I started the first Zombie Fallout. I was totally, Who the hell is this guy? He sounds like Ray Romano with a head injury. It only took me a little while to realize just how perfect that was. Runnette seems to have truly grown into this world, bringing each character alive in special ways. Where he truly shines is capturing Tufor’s sarcastic and often corny sense of humor, making it feel authentic. For me, Zombie Fallout wouldn’t have been the same without Sean Runnette.


2013 Zombie Awareness Month

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.

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


Amazon Author Page


Zombie Fallout Audible Page


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


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 by Mark Tufo

30 03 2012

Zombie Fallout by Mark Tufo (Book 1 of the Zombie Fallout series)

Read by Sean Runnette

Tantor Audio

Length: 10 Hrs 30 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: Zombie Fallout doesn’t really break much new ground. Tufo puts some interesting twists on his zombies, but nothing earthshaking. Instead, you have a classic first person zombie apocalypse tale with plenty of zombie slaughtering action that will make you laugh just as often as it grosses you out.

Grade: B+

Truth be told, I would not survive the Zombie Apocalypse, I know this and accept it. When the dead begin to rise and eat the flesh of the living, my major role will most likely be dinner. Sure, I read plenty of zombie novels and watched countless movies, but heck, I’ve also read tons of mysteries and have yet to solve a murder. I am no survivalist. I’ve never fired a gun in my life, or heck, even held one in my hand making bang bang sounds. I have no martial arts talents and am not specifically skilled using hand weapons. In fact, me using a sword or club is more likely to end up with me in the hospital, or on an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Heck, I don’t even own a suitable bunker full of food and supplies to properly hide from the hordes. More likely than not, when my cannibalistic brethren show up, I’ll probably be hiding in my bathtub crying like a baby. The only true weapon I have is my biting wit and quick turn of phrase. So, when the zombies do break open my bathroom door, I should be able to zing them about their personally hygiene before they engulf me in a sea of teeth. I think the fact that I have no zombie survival skills, beyond being properly marinated, makes me able to enjoy zombie fiction even more. I often find that the hardcore survivalists just can’t let go and have fun when reading post apocalyptic novels. They get so hung up on the details, the caliber of guns, the size of the knives, what item is best used to bludgeon, what food lasts the longest or supply most essential. Geesh, these novels are about your mom rising up to eat you, can’t you just sit back and enjoy it?

Mark Tufo’s zombie apocalypse novel Zombie Fallout is a breath of fresh air, mostly because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Sure, the Zombie Apocalypse is a serious situation, but, come on people, crack a joke once in a while. The undead may eat your brains, but they can’t eat your sense of humor. Tufo filters one of the most gory, nauseating zombie apocalypse tales through the mind of a sarcastic, almost Neanderthal white suburban male. Michael Talbot has been preparing for something like this his whole life, so when the dead begin to rise, he knows what to do. Well, not really. He thinks he does, but no matter how much planning, and how well trained, nobody is truly prepared for the zombie apocalypse. I have to admit, I sort of groaned a bit when Michael called himself a survivalist. Part of me is getting sick of the uber-prepared overly competent, and all too often ultra-serious apocalyptic prepper as protagonist of Zombie tales who marches about slaughtering the undead with cruel efficiency, barely flinching as they become drenched in brain matter. In Zombie Fallout, the characters are affected by what’s going on. While Michael is a sarcastic, politically incorrect caveman at times, he’s not a robot. Things affect him. He has breakdowns, and is overwhelmed by the situation. Tufo does a good job making his tale very visceral. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a fan of gore for gore sake, but Tufo’s gore serves a purpose. It helps create a mood where you can smell the decay, and feel the nausea that the situation induces in the characters. Yet, Tufo never mires the tale down in the depravity, but uses levity to help the readers past some of the more disturbing moments. Zombie Fallout isn’t really breaking much new ground here. Tufo puts some interesting twists on his zombies, but nothing earthshaking. Instead, you have a classic first person zombie apocalypse tale with plenty of zombie slaughtering action that will make you laugh just as often as it grosses you out.

When I first started listening to Zombie Fallout, I just knew I was going to hate the narrator. As the story opens, my first thoughts when hearing Sean Runnette’s voice was that he sounded like Ray Romano with a traumatic brain injury. Yet, as I got deeper and deeper into the story I started to realize that Michael Talbot sort of acted like Ray Romano with a traumatic brain injury. Being this was my first time listening to Runnette’s narration, it’s hard to judge his skills overall, but I started to really enjoy his readings. He did an excellent job with the male characters, particularly Michael and Tommy, and did a serviceable job with the females. While the majority of the novel comes from Michael’s perspective, there is a brief point where the story is taken over by his wife, and that was probably the shakiest part of Runnette’s performance. Yet, overall I enjoyed it. He delivered jokes well, and controlled the pace to allow listeners to easily visualize the action. His best moments where during the conversational moments, where it was like Michael was actually addressing the audience of his tales. His tone was almost conspiratorial, like someone telling a dirty joke with a wink and a nudge. I had a lot of fun listening to Zombie Fallout, and am definitely looking forward to continuing this series.

This review is part of my weekly “Welcome to the Apocalypse” Feature.

Note: A special thanks to Tantor Audio for providing me with this title for review.