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review 2017-10-10 16:40
Historical anachronism happens fast
This is the Way the World Ends: An Oral ... This is the Way the World Ends: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Keith Taylor

This poor novel had the bad sense to be published in August, this year of our Lord 2017, though, presumably, it was written earlier. EVEN SO, at the very moment of publication, it was already woefully historically anachronistic. I'm going to blame this, like so much else, on the Trump administration, and the unbelievable chaos and unprecedented violation of governmental, social, and ethical norms that we've seen in this fine country, the US of A, since then. Writing near future science fiction is an unbelievable bitch.


This is what got me. So, This is the Way it Ends is avowedly a love letter and a riff on Max Brooks' World War Z, which is also glossed with the subtitle An Oral History of the Zombie Wars. The writer here, Keith Taylor, notes in his introduction how taken he was by the retrospective and documentary feel of World War Z, and how, after expecting a raft of novelists to take up the style, he decided to fill the gap when no one did. This is the Way it Ends is successful in this Brooksian ventriloquism for the most part, and it you like this sort of thing, then this is the sort of thing you'll like. (Well, other than a metatextual spin wherein Keith Taylor, current novelist, inserts himself inside this fictional narrative as "Keith Taylor," the documentarian for the novel. His intro dragging on fictional zombie narratives was way too clever-clever. It's the kind of thing that's fun to read to your wife after you write it, but shouldn't make it into the final draft.)


Like Brooks' novel, this one takes place a dozen odd years after the initial zombie outbreaks, after humanity has gone through the meat grinder of a full on zombie apocalypse and come out on the other side, shaky, diminished, but still standing. This is the section that got me: a centrist Republican, one who shepherded the US through the zombie wars, tells a story from mid-2019. Apparently, there are outbreaks happening all over Europe, and there's more and more worry about the zombie threat. At a bipartisan meeting, a reporter asks if maybe the US should close its borders. A democrat steps up, and in an act of partisan showboating, begins reciting the Emma Lazarus sonnet that is carved into the statue of liberty. "Give us your tired" etc. At this point everyone goes nuts, freaking that closing the borders is evil, and certainly no sane (or not evil) person would suggest such a thing. The Republican president is rueful: if only those stupid liberals knew better. 


So here's the problem with this. First, let me tell a joke: at an intersection with four corners, on each corner stands an individual: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, a centrist Republican, and an alt-right nutjob. Someone drops a case of money into the center of the intersection. Which individual gets it? The alt-right nutjob, because the rest of these beings are purely fictional. Second, Trump already tried, and has been moderately successful, in implementing his Muslim ban, just recently adding to the seven Muslim-majority countries he's put on the shit list. Though the courts have put on the brakes a little, public outcry was nowhere near uniform. In fact, I think I was in a minority for thinking that was self-defeating and cruel, in addition to racist. The Trump administration is working hard at curtailing literally all immigration, legal and illegal, and we don't have anything near a zombie fucking outbreak to point at, though you wouldn't know it from some Brietbart articles, boy howdy. No one reads sonnets anymore; those are for effete liberals and they are decidedly not in charge. Third, what is this word, "bipartisan"? I do not understand this strange concept. 


In some ways, this anachronism is adorable, and it dovetails into some blindspots Brooks had in WWZ. The farther Brooks gets from his worldview, the less compelling his narratives get -- the American housewife one is a big fucking mess, but then I have a whole thing about the housewife in fiction. Ditto with Taylor. As a native Brit with a Mongolian wife who spends a lot of time in Mongolia and Thailand, his grasp on pan-Asian politics is pretty great. Americans? Yeah, not so much. I'm not picking on him here though. I'm not sure I understood (even as someone who purported to at least a modicum of wokeness) how unbelievably racist and isolationist the United States is until the last election. And that election technically didn't involve zombies! 


Except it totally did and we're all going to die. The horror of reading horror fiction for me these days is in how unscary it all is. It's nowhere near as terrifying as considering a malignant narcissist who considers Nazis "fine people" starting World War 3, the one that will kill us all, while tweeting on the shitter one Sunday morning. In the words of Mira Grant, rise up while you can. 




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review 2017-10-07 02:01
A chilling zombie tale! Summer of 68 by Kevin Millikin
Summer Of 68 - Kevin Millikin

This story started with reports coming in to radio stations across the USA reporting the dead rising and eating the living. Of course, few believed it was possible. Since this is set in 1968, zombies and how to combat them wasn’t on too many people’s minds. In California, a small town is hit with this strange occurrence. I was really drawn into the tale at this point especially because I wanted to see how these two kids, Jake and Russell, fared.

First we get a glimpse into their everyday lives. The kids’s dad is off in Vietnam and their mother is trying to take care of everything – all the parenting duties, working, and trying to be both mom and pop to the kids. She was a very realistic character, sneaking smokes when she could. The neighbor offers to take the kids off to the fishing hole. Lucky for them, this gets them out of town for the initial outbreak.

Meanwhile, the town’s sheriff, Sheriff Baker, has been called out to deal with some lazy jerks terrorizing this farmer’s animals in the barn. She tried to scare them off with a few shots but when they started to kill her animals, she called in the police. Baker arrives there and expects drunk and belligerent drifters or farm hands. What he and his deputy find is far, far worse. Wow! It’s totally logical that animals locked in a barn wouldn’t fare well but still, that was tough. Baker was kinda boring at first but he really shined in this scene. This is where I started paying attention to him.

Once the kids get caught up in the zombie apocalypse, they have some choices to make – head for town or head for home. I found this part of the story a bit wonky. I felt it was more logical for them to head home instead of to town and the older brother even weighs out this argument in his head… and then seems to go against his own logic.

This story starts off pretty gender balanced but as things progress, the tale focuses only on the male characters. I would have liked a bit more from the ladies, especially as they are written quite well in the first half of the book. If the world is going down, I want to hear from everyone, not just the guys.

For the entire story, I was hoping but not expecting all my favorite characters to get out alive. This is not a happy conquer all the dead kind of tale. I respect that. As the book blurb strongly hints, this is not a happy ending story. Still, the tale left me wanting a little more. Yet overall, it kept me entertained and I was invested in the main characters.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Rick Gregory did a decent job with this book. His kid voices for Jake and Russel start off great. He sounds like a kid and keeps the two voices distinct. However as the story progresses, they sound more and more like the adult characters and they aren’t always distinct. That said, the pacing is good and there were no technical issues I noticed. His female voices are believable and I especially loved his voice for the old grumpy neighbor that takes the kids to the fishing hole.

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review 2017-10-06 23:45
A Fun Rowdy Ride! Curse of the Zombie Omelet by Grivante
The Zee Brothers : Zombie Exterminators - Grivante

This was a fun zombie flick. There’s plenty of humor mixed with a little death and gore. Apparently zombies are a regular issue and there’s specialized exterminator companies out there to see to all your zombie needs. The Zee brothers get a call from an old penny pincher but arrive too late to save him. It quickly becomes clear that they’ll have a much bigger problem soon if they don’t stop the angry dead from rising.

I have a thing for stories that feature old disturbed burial grounds complete with angry ghosts rising to kick someone’s butt for disturbing them. For this tale, that happens to be the burial grounds of a local Native American tribe. It was quite fun to watch the boys scramble around trying to figure out what got these spirits so riled up and how to appease them now.

In steps JJ. For some reason she’s wearing tight shorts and a zipped up leather jacket… in Arizona… and I don’t think it’s winter. She also has a cute little pink gun. Now I’m all for tales that feature both genders going armed but I’ve never been fond of pink guns. On the other hand, JJ obviously knows what to do with said gun so if she wants a pink one, I guess it’s OK. For much of the tale, JJ is a sex object. Sigh… But then she takes down her share of zombies and protects the Zees’s backs a few times. So I’m on the fence about her character. We’ll see if she gets more of a useful role in the future.

Jonah and Judas make a fun pair because Jonah is a bit gruff and likes to be in charge while Judas is a lovable bumbling eager lad that wants to impress Jonah, and later JJ. Though I don’t think Judas will be getting many kisses with his tobacco chew habit – blech! I think I rather kiss a zombie! Jonah is missing some fingers and he doesn’t want to talk about it, grumpy man! While they are constantly jabbing each other, they each protect the other. It’s a good chemistry for this humorous zombie romp.

Let’s talk about Sasha. I really lie Sasha. I know. She’s the truck but she still kicks butt! Sounds like she needs a tune up and her transmission gears have had some teeth knocked out. First no longer works so the guys have to stumble over getting her started in second more than once. Those little touches were realistic and brought back memories of my early standards. Sasha also has a magic eightball gear shifter, so she gets to add her 5 cents to mix on a regular basis. JJ comes to like that eightball quite a bit.

Then there’s Xanadu! To the rescue! With disco music! Yep, you heard me. Complete with disco lighting. I know, it is so ridiculous and so much fun. It’s like the author took a dare on whether or not he could write a zombie flick that involved a burial site, omelets, a pink handgun, an eightball, disco music, and Xanadu. Well, if that’s the case, he did it well. This story was pure fun to listen to. I’m looking forward to future installments.

Narration: Ian McEuen did a pretty good job with this book. There was one or two odd pauses but that was the only technical issue I caught. His voice characterization is spot on. He has distinct voices for all the characters and his female voices are believable. I especially liked the variety of screams and moans he came up with for this tale. There’s also a touch of music worked in at appropriate times which really added to those scenes in the book.

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review 2017-10-04 23:40
"White Trash Zombie Unchained - White Trash Zombie #6" by Diana Rowland - things go right for Angel
White Trash Zombie Unchained - Diana Rowland

"White Trash Zombie Unchained" is the most fun I've had with Angel Crawford since the first book in the series.


How could I not like a book that has Angel Crawford AND zombie alligators in it?


Some of the recent Angel books have been dark, as Angel came to terms with her own nature and her new status as a person that needs to eat brains and who LOVES their smell, especially when fresh.


"White Trash Zombie Unchained" manages to lift the mood while still embracing and enriching the world-building from the previous novels.


Angel comes into her own in this book, showing leadership, taking good decisions and still remaining someone who will rescue frogs from certain death.


The book is packed with wit, humor, action and its own distinctive brand of strangeness. The plot stands up on its own, resolves some points from previous books and opens up some intriguing new possibilities. What more could I ask?


The book is perhaps a little wish-fulfillment heavy, but hell, I enjoyed it and Angel certainly deserves it.


Read this one with a grin on your face. I recommend the audiobook version because, for me, Alison McLemore IS Angel Crawford and she does a wonderful job with this book.


I was originally drawn to this series by the striking cover art. Take a look at the pictures below to see how this book cover evolved.



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review 2017-09-27 20:27
Audio Much Better Than the Trying to Read the Book
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Max Brooks

I have to say that a lot of people suggested that I listen to this book and what a great idea. I have to say that some of the voices sound a bit too stereotypical to my ears, but I really did enjoy listening to the so-called Zombie wars. 


I will say that you really do have to listen to this book. It doesn't work well at all as a written novel. I had to switch over since I almost DNFed it at one point. Reading interviews and questions and answers doesn't work in the long term. Your brain after a while just doesn't care and you find it hard to concentrate. Or at least me. When I have to read through Congressional transcripts it's the worse. I like to listen to congressional meetings or attend in person cause you don't get to hear the nuance in people's voices. 


I liked hearing about the so-called Patient Zero and how the virus spread and all of the places on the Earth that was touched. It was so scary reading about how the young boy's body was falling apart. I even got a little bit sick here and there listening to how cords had gone through his body to the bone. How cold his skin had gotten and how his blood now looked. When we hear about how the governments of the world even had a zombie protocol though it was surprising to me. 


I did think the narrator (who was Max Brooks) was not that great. He sounded so weird to my ears. I think certain statements/questions he asked needed more passion in his voice or more feeling. It just felt like he was reading the phone book to me sometimes. 


I was thrilled to figure out that one of the voices was Mark Hamill. He is the best! 


I will say though that I wanted to read more about what people did when the outbreak happened, how they managed to get through it. This was definitely an oral history, but I felt like it was missing parts. 


I did love the thinking that went into this by Max Brooks though. Cause it didn't even occur to me that zombies can just exist in water. That they don't need to breathe, so they can just hang out on the bottom of the ocean floor...forever. That the cold will stop them so heck move to a colder climate. Still not dead, but not real active anymore either. I also love how we learn about different things such as protocols, laws, how the world changed and new countries were formed, etc. 


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