Review: Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse?
CAN YOU SURVIVE THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE? (Amazon) by Max Brallier has managed to break us out of our staunch anti-zombie book stance. It is a choose-your-own-adventure book for an adult, with a setting of… you guessed it, a zombie apocalypse. We figured it was different enough we could relent on our anti-zombie attitude for one more book.
We are glad we did. This book is a riot!
There is remarkably little to actually review about this book. You’ll know whether it is something you’re interested in or not just after reading that it is a Zombie Choose-Your-Own-Adventure. You don’t expect great writing, storytelling, plot, character development, etc from this thing.
To clear something up right away so that your expectations are set it in the right place. This isn’t like those Facebook quizzes about how long (or if) you would survive the Zompocalypse. We expected it to be a little more of a “test your knowledge” kind of thing. It wasn’t. The scenarios set up in the book are beyond ridiculous and set up a more humorous exploration of the idea.
There were some real missed opportunities because of this. Mainly to make it a little more serious, on the note of World War Z and the like. We thought that if Max had taken the subject matter a little more seriously (Yeah yeah… taking zombies seriously? You don’t have to say it…) we could have been treated to something a little more entertaining or involving. Instead we get various escapades that run the gamut from bunkering in a B&N to read zombie books (PATIENT ZERO, THE NEW DEAD, THE WALKING DEAD, WORLD WAR Z, etc) to getting our face peed on by a Hell’s Angel, to watching Zombie Overlord George Romero direct his zombie underlings. We understand that B-Movie zombie styles definitely are what some people are after, and that’s fair. We just wished it was a little darker, a little more serious (Big surprise, right?).
There are a few dozen different endings, but from what we could tell none of them were really… “endings”. Except the ones where you died of course, and believe us, those were spectacularly gruesome. You will die in just about every fashion imaginable. Some of them are downright horrific and others and brilliantly hilarious.
Another thing that sort of bugged us was that the choices were often too stupid. We feel like anyone reading this is going to be a zombie aficionado, and be frustrated by the stupidity of choices. When Nick sent an email saying the title of the book, Steve originally thought Nick was asking him the question “Can you survive the zombie apocalypse?”. He involuntarily started thinking about what he would do. This is the kind of book we feel it should have been. Instead we get things like this particular example in one of the early divergent paths where you can choose to go home to your apartment. While there you have the choice to get drunk or leave for somewhere else. Who is going to choose the Xanax and Coors!? If you choose to leave, the supplies you take with you are a Nintendo DS and a few copies of Hustler. That will throw you completely out of the immersion aspect of a CYOA book. Our bet is that Zombie Fans are going to like the book because of its pulp and fun factor, but be frustrated and quickly bored by the inanity of many of its segments.
Honestly, the book is pretty silly, but hilariously entertaining. A brilliant idea with a fairly lack-luster execution. However, some of the opportunities it DIDN’T miss however are the multitude of homages to Zombie Culture, as well as Americana references. Those little things were almost always good for a chuckle. Whether or not you liked Seinfeld, just the image of George Castanza running at the kid’s birthday party and knocking them all over referenced as your character flees from zombies, will be enough to warrant caution about drinking anything while reading, lest you spurt it from your nostrils in laughter.
Bottom line: It’s not an award-winning, reality-altering, genre-bending book. It is a riotous throwback to our time as kids when CYOA books were a complete craze, and it certainly delivers on that front. We aren’t going to recommend this book to everyone, but if you think, at all, it sounds fun, you will want to check it out. The price-tag of $16.00 bucks is pretty steep for what will keep you occupied for 45-60 minutes tops, but hey… that’s never stopped you dorky Zombie-Freaks before has it?
- Recommended Age: 18+
- Language: Yeah. It doesn't take long for the F bombs to start flying and then they don't stop.
- Violence: Wow, lots of it, in comedic amounts, and extremely bloody and graphic.
- Sex: Some. Nothing graphic.