Something different this time; Zombies!!!
Still Alive series book 1 by Javan Bonds
Narrated by Shawn Salzman
THIS IS NOT YOUR USUAL ZOMBIE/APOC…For me the narration of S.W. Salzman brings a range of voices for the characters in a way that you can tell them apart, but, it’s not done in a way to seem “forced”; the female characters do not have a tonal inflection change, but you can hear the difference between “Hammer” and “Smokes” talking without being lost in translation. He does seem to add a slight over punctuation in breaks in a sentence for grammar, however that seems to be the same for most narrators reading a for a new author.
The zombies, or “peeves” as this book describes them, are a blue tinged cannibalistic humanoid, who are weary of light for a current unknown reason. This makes it easier for Javan Bonds to move the story forward by allowing characters “free roam” of the city during daylight hours. At first glance there would seem to be some “plot holes” to the story, i.e. zombies who do not like sunlight, but, upon further reading, you understand his use of this as a way to give himself time to write in a better “zombie antagonist” in his plague victims so it can be explained to the reader as the story continues. Kind of like, making it up as he goes along, which I enjoy immensely, since it really keeps us ZOMPOC veterans guessing what’s coming next.
My favorite of Javan Bond’s particular writing style is to cast an “all knowing prophetic character” in the guise of an IMMENSELY fat, dope peddling black man who sounds like Chris Tucker. I loved this idea, and his use of the character to explain “how zombie stories usually play out” for the inexperienced ZOMPOC reader. With that being said, this book is also RIDDLED with obscure references to well known, and simultaneously, not very well known media culture. In the first 10 chapters, you get references to: Dawn of the dead (original and reboot), Monkey Shines, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Magic the Gathering TCG, the song “Red Solo Cups”, even a very well known news anchor.
The protagonist is played out by the author writing journal entries ala Mike Talbot (if you know who that is perfect, if not, you are SORELY missing out). This gives the author a chance to really put himself into the book by going off on diatribes about situations at hand and explaining them off in the most hilarious and sarcastic ways. So far, every entrance scene for a character has been as remarkably remembered as much as “Some asshole is licking my peephole!” Again, if you know to what I am referring, you will love this book.
Ok, with all of that being said…my only real CONs to this book are in the eyes of an inexperienced reader. On the surface this book can be taken for “racist, crass, uneducated, and weird” however, as a long time fan of both zombies and APOC series’; I have to say that this story is still refreshingly unique and honestly modern. The other CON is for me personally, it took me several times of re-listening to the same couple beginning chapters to get into S.W. Salzman’s reading style and cadence. At first is is a bit choppy, it sounds a little like stumbling over the sentence structure. In retrospect, that problem is not a big one as I have heard this begin, and disappear in the same book; at most it lasts for the first book or 2. If you give yourself the time to relisten to the beginning once or twice, you will thoroughly enjoy the rest of the book.
Honestly, I have a hard time giving a book anything over 4 stars unless it is really amazing, or, it has made me realize something about myself I never thought of before. Without doing the latter, this book exceeds my expectations to the former.
If you like:
Zombies, post apocalypse, gender reverse roles, sarcasm, whitty humor, fat dope dealing prophets, trained (possibly in some lethal ninja combat art) helper monkies, gratuitous racial and homosexual slurs, seriously in depth character building, one eyed survivalist pirates, and a unique take on the end of the world. You NEED… to pick up this book!