May 14th, 2011

Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse? Review

While everyone else in England has been caught up in the royal wedding, our U.K. nerd, James Hayward, has been hard at work reviewing a new book so we’ll know if this is a good resource for surviving future outbreaks.

My first experience of a Choose Your Own Adventure book was at high school when Ms Daniels (a super cool teacher whom, at age 11, I remember being convinced I would marry when I grew up…) rewarded the class for a week of above average behavior with a Friday afternoon group book reading. As is the way with CYOA, every few pages the story offered a sequence of options that would cause it to branch and go off in completely different directions. I loved it and for a good while afterward, I read as many CYOAs as I could find at the local library.

Can you Survive the Zombie Apocalypse follows the same format found in the CYOA childrens books… except, of course, the subject matter is (ahem) a bit less children – appropriate. In fact, Max Brallier doesn’t hold back at all on the sex, drugs, violence and general brutality in his portrail of a zombie apocalypse in Manhattan. The grittyness is never excessive though, nor does the book ever take itself too seriously. Also, while it isn’t a straight up comedy, I invariably found myself laughing at least once with each read through.

The full gamut of zombie literature is referenced and there are plenty of familiar tropes woven into each of the stories. For instance, you might find your character choosing to drink copious amounts of alcohol, barricading himself in a bar and generally taking the “Shaun of the Dead” approach to zombie management. Maybe you’ll take a leaf out of Romero’s book instead and take the fight to the zombies, either up close with melee weapons or perhaps you will choose to set up a sniper nest in the statue of liberty? Maybe you’ll bunker down and wait for the military or the government to come and save you?

There is only one sequence of ‘correct’ options available to achieve the ‘THE END’ ending. All the others are ‘AN END’ endings whereupon you either survive precariously, die or become a zombie. After a couple of serious survival attempts, I think I ended up having the most fun with readthroughs where I intentionally tried to sabotage my character’s chances of survival by making outrageously idiotic choices i.e (“if you want to try and intimidate the oncoming zombie using the fake plastic shotgun – turn to page 204″). Ultimately it is this playful and breezy writing style that ensures that ‘Can you Survive the Zombie Apocalypse’ is never a chore to read regardless of your chosen approach.

“Can you Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?” was released last month. Find out more at the author’s website.

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