Another new series. Every second Thursday I will review two books: one more obscure book in the morning and one classic book (loosely defined) in the evening. (I will be getting to an *excellent* start with a late classic review. Keep an eye out the next few days if you’re interested in my thoughts on Gulliver’s Travels.)
Today’s lesser known book is Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse, by Max Brallier.
This book is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style interactive fiction book, which alone earns it nostalgia points from me. I have fond memories of reading those books as a group in after school care.
Unfortunately, the main character immediately rubs me the wrong way. He begins the story reminiscing about his college partying days, and when the news breaks that zombies have come to Manhattan he expresses his shock by interspersing his sentences with f-bombs. This habit of swearing to express his emotion continues throughout the book. Mind you, it’s not the swearing in and of itself that I have a problem with, but it seems to be his only trick and makes him for the most part seem childish and two dimensional. The rest of the characters weren’t much better; the only ones I found myself caring for were the children.
There is some discussion, on a couple of the paths, of what “type” of zombies these are, which was interesting and useful to me as someone who doesn’t consume much of the zombie genre. There’s also a good deal of creativity to be found in the different scenarios, although one twist came so far out of left field that it left me reeling a bit. I did enjoy that twist, but it didn’t play out, and therefore felt underdeveloped.
A few of the paths ended with you hunkering down to wait out the zombies, rather than anything that felt like a satisfying resolution, and one (the aforementioned left field twist) actually didn’t even get that far, leaving you in an exposed area, safe for the moment, but who knows for how long?
It’s worth pointing out that many of the reviews on Amazon mention that the reviewer bought this for their late elementary aged child. I’m sure children of that age could enjoy it, and it’s not my job to police what parents expose their kids to, but the previously mentioned swearing along with the inclusion of romantic subplots (nothing too inappropriate), a stripper, Hells Angels, and numerous famous person “cameos” leaves me comfortable in my belief that this was intended for adults, or at least teenagers and older preteens.
I recently saw someone describe certain books as “junk food for the brain.” That’s what this was for me. It was a bit of a good time, and I made it all the way through, but ultimately it fell flat and is forgettable.