After playing The Last of Us it is asking a lot of a zombie book to compete with the narrative and experience provided by this video game. Yet I wanted to stay with the genre, which is why I chose Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End. That, and it was already on my kindle. It’s decent, but it’s definitely not the most effective zombie story out there.
Apocalypse Z is structured as a compilation of blog and journal entries written by a man trying to make sense of everything happening around the world as the news tries to contain the beginnings of a pandemic. Similar to the handcam / “found footage” horror films that try to bring something new to the horror film, reading the entries of this man as he is going through the experiences changes the style of writing somewhat, but not so much to really add an interesting perspective into the story. As it is, it really just reads like a novel written in past tense.
Not only that, but having it written as a journal seems to give the author an excuse to write as simplistically as possible because no one writing a journal is thinking of prose of making an impact on the reader. They’re thinking that they need to get their thoughts down on the page before the memory starts to morph and disappear. This doesn’t necessarily detract from the novel, but it takes away any hope of creating a memorable story that won’t just blend in with every other average zombie story. Especially when the guy is an idiot. He might try to fool you with constantly comparing stuff to Dante’s Inferno, but you cannot follow paragraphs about having to hold stuff down when the surrounding stimuli gets too intense, yet five minutes later into your entry say that you’re becoming used to it all. Then why are you about to vomit again on the next page, huh? Maybe it’s just him being tough, but it comes off as just being poor storytelling.
Not only that, but it can be frustrating how easily things seem to come to the characters we follow as he moves from one plot point to the next. How are we supposed to be terrified for someone when the struggle to survive really isn’t felt? There are some close calls and I wouldn’t want to be our narrator by any means, but it was like this average person was somehow made to survive this situation. He may just be a lawyer, but he is also a man who has scuba gear that will come in handy to keep bites from penetrating skin, as well as a spear gun that you wouldn’t think would be anyone’s first choice as a weapon, yet somehow manages to do the job with little to no slip ups. Good thing he knows how to sail too. And this guy he comes across just happens to be a helicopter pilot that knows a lot about forest fires. Really!? Maybe all of the contemplating and desperate thoughts come between the pages; he can’t be this lucky, right?
All of what I’ve said so far probably makes it seem like I really hated this novel, but in the end it just doesn’t stand out in anyway. Yet it is a quick read and does throw in some new situations, so it’s not all a lose, especially if I am willing to read the next book to see what happens to our band of survivors. I just wish it had done more to become something more than an average zombie story.
Final Grade: 3 out of 5 Follow @BewareOfTrees