Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel

Luxor looking for another human who will do his will.

Luxor looking for another human who will do his will.

Where I Got It: Borrowed from library

Narrator: Kirsten Potter

Publisher: Random House Audio (2014)

Length: 10 hours 41 minutes

Author’s Page

This story more or less revolves around the character Arthur Leander, a Canadian actor who died of a heart attack the day the Georgia Flu hit North America. Jumping back and forth in the timeline, the tale shows how things were before the pandemic and after, how certain characters were influenced, or not, by Arthur. Quite frankly, I wasn’t particularly interested in Arthur, but he served as an anchor point for the story.

First, let’s chat about that timeline. It’s not too confusing, but I did have to pay attention in order to figure out when I was on the timeline every time we switched characters. The story starts off in the here and now with Arthur Leander about to play King Lear on stage in Toronto. Once the flu disaster is off to a good start, we jump ahead 20 years to the Traveling Symphony, which hangs out by Lake Michigan. Throughout, the story will jump back to before the disaster and we learn more about Leander’s life. Also, there are a few times when the timeline jumps to 15 years after the disaster when Kirsten Raymonde is giving an interview to a newly risen newspaper. In general, I didn’t mind that it jumped around so much. If the story had been laid out chronologically, I would have lost interest with Leander’s life and given up on the book. However, with Arthur Leander’s life being chopped up in smaller bits, I was OK with it.

Kirsten Raymonde was my favorite character. She briefly knew Arthur because she was one of the three little girls playing non-speaking roles in King Lear in Toronto. Mostly, the reader gets to know her as an adult living in Year 20 (20 years after the flu hit North America). She’s an actress and lives with the Traveling Symphony, which is the combination of a defunct military orchestra and an acting troupe. They have been traveling a circuit near Lake Michigan for years and it is usually a safe existence. She remembers very little from the time before the disaster and I think this is why she has held on tightly to three things from that time – anything she can find on Arthur Leander, her Doctor 11 comic books (limited prints), and a fanciful paperweight.

Everyone in the Traveling Symphony is armed in one way or another and everyone contributes in some way. Some folks track and hunt, others sew and cook. There are no traditional male and female roles in the troupe and I really liked this aspect. Most people cross train to some extent to be able to pick up the slack when necessary. I was very surprised by how organized the troupe was. The Conductor, who leads the Traveling Symphony, is ex-military and she has made sure that everyone can move quickly and quietly in an efficient manner when necessary. They have procedures in place for when someone becomes separated from the group. The long familiarity of the group with each other and these rules allowed me to focus on the characters and what life had become a generation after the pandemic. So much of the societal collapse subgenre deals with the immediate aftermath (and that’s all entertaining), but this book had a nice long breather between that madness of immediate government collapse and the story contained in this book.

The Doctor 11 comic books (there’s only two of them), play a bigger role than I initially thought. They are introduced pretty early on as Kirsten likes to read them often. The author is a bit of a mystery and Kirsten searches for further books in the series whenever she gets a chance. Right off, I wanted to know more about these comics and much later in the book, we do learn more about them. In fact, we get to meet the author before the collapse. Also, Kirsten isn’t the only one who has been influenced by them, but we don’t learn more about that until near the end. I really liked how this story of a future scientist built a living, breathing ship of sorts, kind of a small planet, and yet he grieves over the Earth he has lost.

Jeevan was my second favorite character. He’s there at the beginning. He’s had a lot of jobs over the years, trying to find his place in the world. Lately, he’s been a paparazzo and even more recently he has trained as an EMT. In fact, he’s in the audience when Arthur Leander collapses from a heart attack and his experience in trying to save him cements his ideas of becoming a licensed EMT. But then the Georgia Flu hits Toronto and he has to get supplies up to his brother’s 22nd floor apartment. Ha! That was amusing. Then Jeevan and Frank watch from on high as the world spins down. Jeevan doesn’t appear again in the story for some time and I was sad that we got so little of him after this initial appearance.

The plot, after the world pandemic in Year 20, involves the Traveling Symphony running into a prophet and his mostly reluctant followers as they return to a city to locate their once pregnant band member Charlie and her beau Jeremy. It quickly becomes apparent that they don’t want to hang out in this town for very long, so they put on a show and then quietly and quickly pack up and leave. They’ve had word that Charlie and Jeremy and their baby have headed south, possibly to the Museum of Civilization at the Severn City airport.

This plot line was way more interesting to me than Arthur Leander’s life and I wish the book had spent more time on it. The prophet has a lot of power, even if his people give it to him grudgingly. There’s a lot of psychology going on beneath it all, about authority figures, the young and easily influenced, and wrapping it up in a religious cloth. So I think more could have been done with this. Still, there’s plenty of mystery and tension and trying to quietly flee while also keeping hold of everyone in the Symphony. Then there is the additional mystery of the Museum of Civilization and what kind of people live there. That’s covered in another time leap backwards, again with people who knew Arthur Leander. That little bit was my second favorite little plot line of the book.

Over all, I am glad I gave it a read. It’s not your typical ‘world is ending’ story, being much calmer and less dramatic. This allowed for more character development, which I liked. While I didn’t care much for Arthur Leander, his character acted as this touchstone for the rest of the tale. I do wish he had been more interesting, but then I might have been sad that he died.

Narration: Kirsten Potter was a fine narrator for this story. She had distinct voices for each of the characters and her male voices were believable. I especially liked her somewhat melancholy voice for the character Kirsten Raymonde. She also did the few required accents quite well. Her voice for the prophet was sometimes chilling!

What I Liked: The world has collapsed and it’s 20 years later – life continues on; the Doctor 11 comic books; Kirsten Raymonde and her story; Jeevan and his story; the story of how the Museum of Civilization came to be; a satisfying end.

What I Disliked: Arthur Leander was a rather boring fellow; wished more time was spent on the Traveling Symphony and less on Leander’s life. 

What Others Think:

SF Gate

Dear Author

That’s What She Read

Book Giveaway & Interview: Geoff Camphire, Author of the Charlie Dead Series

CamphireCharlieDead&SoCalledZombie ApocalpseEveryone, please welcome Geoff Camphire, author of the humorous zombie Charlie Dead series! We discourse on zombie movies, what a zombie obstacle course would entail, what zombies symbolize in modern society, and plenty more. Also, don’t miss out on the paperback giveaway (US only please) – scroll to the end for details on that.

If you could be an extra on a zombie movie or TV series, what would it be?

Getting shot in the forehead with a crossbow on “The Walking Dead” would be pretty darn cool. I’d make a great zombie. I’m almost lifelike. Almost.

How does it feel, I wonder, to be a treated like a monster? In my CHARLIE DEAD trilogy (‪, teenager Charlie Dunlap, newly infected with the zombie virus, fears he’s about to find out. These young-adult sci-fi novels explore life among the undead in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian America. I hope people enjoy it as much as shows like “iZombie” and “The Walking Dead.”

What’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

If punctured, the human heart can squirt blood more than 30 feet. Which can make it hard to catch it in your mouth.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death, would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

Definitely a supernatural creature. Specifically, a zombie. Even more specifically, it would be Wendell Reed, the main zombie character in my CHARLIE DEAD series.

Charlie is a teenager trying to avoid becoming a zombie, and Wendell, for a variety of reasons, tries to help him. In doing so, Wendell risks being utterly destroyed himself.

Of course, for a zombie, this is as close to “certain death” as one comes. After writing about Wendell for years, I’ve grown quite fond of the big, undead lug. So, would I save him if I had to choose someone to rescue? I suppose — but, fortunately, as an author, I can do whatever I want!

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

One year, when I was a kid, “The Exorcist” aired on network TV for the first time on Halloween. It was an edited version, but still pretty scary. I remember coming home from trick-or-treating, planting myself on the carpet in front of the tube in our basement game room, and gobbling candy bars alone in the dark. It was like an out-of-body experience.

At one point, a commercial came on — and suddenly I became aware of myself. Bathed in the glow of the TV screen. Scared halfway out of my mind. And grinning like a madman. Looking back, I understand now what a pivotal moment that was.

CamphireCharlieDead&TheSeedsOfZombieChaosHow does modern pop culture influence your work? Do modern cultural references date a piece or add touchstones for the reader?

Well, I grew up in Pittsburgh, which really was ground zero for the explosion of zombie movies that’s given the world its modern vision of the living dead. I’ve never shaken the infection — or the hunger to spread the zombie virus.

Of course, as an adult now, I experience pop culture a little differently. After enjoying the “Harry Potter” and “Hunger Games” books along with my kids, I started wondering why young-adult zombie literature didn’t offer a series of comparable quality. So I wrote my own.

People today are fascinated with zombies — and for good reason. The planet is swarming with mortal dangers, existential threats and systemic efforts to take over our lives. We’re all afraid of being gobbled up, turned into zombies. Mindless zombies and the walking dead invite us to tackle the hard questions of free will and what it means to be really alive. The real stumper isn’t “How do we kill zombies?” but “How to do we live with the reality of zombies among us?”

And I want my post-apocalyptic world to be familiar, but not too much. Without dropping a lot of references to things like specific products or movies, I try to paint a picture of people as they live today, struggling and striving, often unsuccessfully, to make their world normal again. Turns out, that’s hard to do when there are zombies everywhere.

Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

How important is reality in my fiction? I’m not sure that reality is particularly important in my reality. I write about zombies, after all.

That said, I don’t feel like art is obligated to be absolutely faithful to all the mundane facets of real life. Sure, fiction is most entertaining when it feels somehow plausible — when characters’ motivations make sense, when the words coming out of their mouths sound like things they’d say, and when events unfold within the rules of a reality established by the story. So reality is important. But it’s the reality I create that matters. And that reality isn’t filled with paragraphs punctuated by trips to the toilet.

Over the years, are the changes in society reflected in today’s villains and heroes?

Our heroes have stayed mostly the same over time. They’ve always had to overcome obstacles, externally and internally. That’s what makes them heroes. And they’re important, sure. But if I’m being honest, I am much more interested in our villains — specifically, our monsters — and what they say about us.

Creepy as it might sound, I take inspiration from the simmering panic I hear in the voices of ordinary people. When you ask people about their fears, what do they talk about? Faceless enemies, terror groups, existential threats. A growing sense of freedom being taken away. Outsize control exerted by governmental, religious and economic forces. And the desperation to somehow escape becoming just another one of society’s dead-eyed drones.

That’s why we’re drawn to tales of zombies. Most zombie stories focus on the fight-or-flight response to attack by the unliving. But in real life, there’s no escape. You certainly can’t avoid death. Even before that, there are forms of “zombification” that find you, no matter what. You can never completely get away from the drudgery of work, the limits placed on your free choice by society, and — maybe most important — the tendency of people to treat each other as lesser-than, inhuman monsters.

We’re all running from the zombie plague, and we’re trying to figure out what it means to really be alive. So I wanted to write about the ways we learn to live, hopefully, in a reality that’s always is and always will be overrun with zombies.

CamphireCharlieDead&TheSpoilesOfZombieCombatIf you were sent on a survival quest which other 4 zombie fiction authors would you take with you?

Richard Matheson, Max Brooks, Robert Kirkman and Seth Grahme-Smith. Why? Realistically speaking, I don’t think I’m going to last long on any “survival quest.” I’m going to be one of the first to go down. So, I figure, I might as well enjoy some scintillating conversation with innovative intellects before I become somebody’s lunch.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

This question really is not fair, because I feel like I’m being set up to self-promote. But I’m taking the bait. Naturally I feel like my CHARLIE DEAD books would make the most amazing video game ever. Personally, I’d want to be Charlie. But others might choose to be characters like the undead Emma Fletcher, buddy Sam Curtis, or the zombified secret agent Wendell Reed.

Then the good guys face off against the bad guys. And not just rabid zombies. The villains are legion — including the loony zealots of Orthodox Life Church, the ruthless opportunists of Nolegys Corporation, and the jackbooted thugs of the Community Health Enforcement Watch, or CHEW. The “Zombie Combat” tournaments in the video game could be just as wild as those featured in the books, where normals and zombies go head to head. And heads do roll

What do you do when you are not writing?

When I’m not writing zombie fiction, I’m a husband, a father, a freelance journalist, and a communications guru who runs a public awareness campaign reaching over 50 million people a year with information and resources about science education. Also I watch zombie movies. Lots and lots of zombie movies.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Aside from slender, Dr. Seuss-style children’s books, the first real book I remember reading by myself was “A Wrinkle in Time.” I was in elementary school, and I can remember being blown away by the bizarre combination of supernatural fantasy and science-fiction, the careening adventure and high drama, the wrenching emotion, and — maybe most — the characters I wanted to know better. What a storyteller L’Engle was! What a story!

You have to run a zombie obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

Merlot. I think a simple red would pair best with my friend Gavin, who is catastrophically clumsy. Gavin would make excellent zombie bait, I think. Outrunning him would provide me with my escape. And since red wine goes with red meat, I might be tempted to share some with the zombies feasting on Gavin. Then again, I just might save the bottle for myself. I do like to have a drink while I’m enjoying a show. Buh-bye, Gavin!

CamphireCharlieDead&SoCalledZombie ApocalpseBook Blurb for Charlie Dead & the So-Called Zombie Apocalypse:

Zombies, zombies, zombies! How does it feel to be one of the walking dead? Hunted? Not free? Never allowed to live the life you choose? Charlie Dunlap, newly infected with the zombie virus, fears he is about to find out.

Charlie doesn’t want to become one of the mindless corpses at Norwood High School, where his few friends include the zombified Emma Fletcher. In this post-apocalyptic Armageddon, undead hordes are part of the horror of daily life.

Just as Charlie is losing hope, though, a mysterious government agent appears at the door, raising questions about the boy’s late mother. How was the vanished scientist connected to the origin of the virus? Why was this terrible plague unleashed on the world? And who is now targeting zombies for persecution?

Charlie, recruited to aid in the investigation, faces each new adventure with a dose of gallows humor and fading hope for a cure. But Charlie knows there’s more than his own fate on the line. At stake is the power to control the whole human race.

Will Charlie survive? Who can he trust? In a world at war with the living dead, it’s not always easy to tell who the real monsters are.

From author Geoff Camphire comes this high-flying, pulse-pounding zombie novel series, a new kind of dystopian science fiction. “CHARLIE DEAD and the So-Called Zombie Apocalypse” is Book 1 of the acclaimed CHARLIE DEAD series.

Places to Find Geoff Camphire & his Charlie Dead series

The CHARLIE DEAD books are available as paperbacks and ebooks on Amazon at Go online to check out the first installment — “CHARLIE DEAD & the So-Called Zombie Apocalypse” — and click “Look Inside” in the upper left corner to read the first chapter. You can “like” the Charlie Dead Book Series on Facebook and follow @Geoff_Camphire on Twitter for news and updates. And learn about CHARLIE DEAD and more by author Geoff Camphire at Also, catch him on GoodReads.


Geoff Camphire is pleased to offer one free full set of CHARLIE DEAD paperbacks — Books 1, 2 & 3 — to the first U.S. resident who, after this Q&A appears online, emails him at with his or her favorite quotation from the first installment, “CHARLIE DEAD & the So-Called Zombie Apocalypse.” Join the zombie feast! Bon appetit! You can check out the first couple of chapters of Book 1 over on Amazon using their ‘Look Inside’ feature. Hint: This gives you plenty of awesome quotes from the book!

Island of Fog by Keith Robinson

RobinsonIslandOfFogWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Fred Wolinsky

Publisher: Keith Robinson (2015)

Length: 9 hours 37 minutes

Series: Book 1 Island of Fog

Author’s Page

Set in a future post-apocalyptic world, 8 families live in quiet solitude on a foggy island, safe from whatever wrecked humanity. The kids are all 12 years old or close to it. While they have each been long curious about the mainland, they also knew there was no way to go exploring. Yet now things are happening to them and secrets long kept are becoming clear. The kids are changing but they don’t know why, or what they will become, or how their parents will react.

These 8 kids, Hal, Robbie, Abigail, Darcy, Dewey, Emily, Fenton, and Lauren, have grown up on this island with their parents, some hogs, cows, a dog, & a cat. There’s no electricity, no indoor plumbing, and no majestic views. The island is perpetually foggy. The kids have never seen a clear night with twinkling stars. The author does a pretty good job setting the stage and giving the reader the feel of the place. The foggy island has shaped these kids as much as their schooling or their parents’ house rules. I really liked the foggy atmosphere because it gave the whole book a mysterious quality.

The families have worked out a communal way to live on the island. One woman is the school teacher, another one the doctor, and yet another bakes weekly bread for all the households. Most of the men work the communal farm. I was surprised that the kids never had farm chores. In fact, they seem to have very few responsibilities other than homework and keeping their rooms clean. I would have liked to see the kids a little more involved in the day to day chores as such a little community probably couldn’t let the kids off to play so often. But that is a tiny quibble compared to how much enjoyment I got out of this book.

So these kids are in for an adventure and things start off a bit slowly. We learn about them, the island, and a few hints as to why they are on the island. Then things pick up with Abigail, who is the first to change and she shares this info with a chosen few. Each kid has a different reaction to these changes and I really liked this aspect. After all, they are all different people.

Meanwhile, there are these sad little remembrances of a family that lost their son many years ago and the couple left the island. Well, Hal & Robbie went adventuring on the island and they ran into something completely unexpected. It was Thomas, the long lost boy, but he’s a manticore. I have no qualms telling you this since he is on the cover art. Thomas is not a well-adjusted kid and doesn’t play well with others, so Hal & Robbie have to flee. To me, Thomas is a rather interesting side character and we learn more about him later in the book. He changed years earlier than the other kids and has been managing on his own for years in the depths of the woods.

Once the adults become aware that at least one of the kids is changing, a specialist, Miss Simone, is called in. This is the first person from off the island the kids have met. They obviously have lots of questions. Yet Simone is evasive and prying at the same time. The kids don’t trust her. They take it upon themselves to do some actions that inadvertently endanger some of the islands inhabitants.

The story lagged in places for me. I felt certain arguments were repeated and repeated.  Also, I felt the kids were rather slow to get to the boiling point. After all, their parents kept the biggest secret of their young lives from them, plus all the secrecy about the world off the island. Then this stranger, Miss Simone, comes and wants them to divulge all their secrets and she wants to irrevocably change their lives, all without telling them anything. So I kept waiting for one of the kids to explode in anger, or at least, in indignation. It was really slow in coming and then was a pretty mild rebuke. That aspect watered down the kids’ characters for me.

The last quarter of the book had the most action and was the most well written. Things are moving along and the kids’ personalities are well-fleshed out. Also, we see more of the adults who were largely these shadowy characters in the background up to this point. Plus Miss Simone gets some depth to her mysterious character. It was a pretty good read and I want to know what happens next to these kids.

I received this book free of charge from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: I have listened to several books narrated by Fred Wolinsky and this may be the best performance yet. Each kid was distinct and sounded like a kid. He also had really good female voices, which I appreciated as I haven’t always liked his female voices. As always, he is great at imbuing the characters with emotions and by the end of the book, there were plenty of emotions to be had! 

What I Liked: The cover art; foggy isolated island; communal living; the many, many mysteries; how the kids all react differently to the changes; the mysterious Miss Simone; the last quarter of the book.

What I Disliked: The story lagged in a few places for me; why didn’t the kids have more chores?; and why weren’t the kids more ticked about all the secrecy?

What Others Think:

J. Barron Owens

Teen Ink

Torch Under the Blanket Books

Wayfaring Artist

Pale Rider: Zombies versus Dinosaurs by James Livingood

LivingoodPaleRiderWhere I Got It: Review copy from the author (thanks!).

Narrator: Michael C. Gwynne

Publisher: Paperbackward (2015)

Length: 57 minutes

Author’s Page

The zombie virus was initially misdiagnosed. Of course it would be. Eventually, it spread and society as we know it collapsed. A new method of transport was needed, one that did not depend on petroleum products and was immune to the virus. Some scientists got together and gengineered large reptilian birds to transport humans and to be used as heavy equipment in farming and clearing land. Us humans couldn’t help but refer to them as dinosaurs.

I read the description to this novelette and smiled. How could I not give it a listen? The story starts off with a short lead in that sets the stage clearly for the reader. I liked how the zombies (also called ‘blues’ in this story) have a nervous system disorder caused by a virus. Then I thoroughly enjoyed how the dinosaurs came into being. If you have ever owned chickens, then you know they are not far removed from T-rexes. So it was not hard for me to imagine some gengineered featherless birds crossed with reptiles being raised to take out tree stumps.

Then we get into the story. Farming is pretty dangerous today, without zombies and with modern equipment. Imagine trying to clear a bit of farming land while watching out for and possibly fighting zombies. Yeah, pretty damn exciting. The story is told through a single point of view (a man, known as Pale Rider, who travels around the area clearing farm land) in a near nitty gritty way. I liked his skeptical attitude.

There are only 2 women mentioned in this book and neither have speaking roles. They are both wives and we only see one on stage, just once, to plant a sultry kiss. Obviously, I would have liked to see a real female character or two, with actions and dialogue pertinent to the plot. However, that’s my only complaint about this tale.

The mix of action and dinos and zombies had me alternating between a black humor chuckle and nibbling on my nails wondering if our hero had met his end. James Livingood is an author to keep an eye on and I really hope he continues to explore this world he has created.

The Narration: Michael Gwynne was a good fit for Pale Rider, giving him a hard-boiled feel. He had a range of voices for the few other characters we encounter.  

What I Liked: Modified beasties!; interesting main character; zombies versus dinos!; the cover art; satisfying ending.

What I Disliked: Women are relegated to the background.

Ravaged by Jason Brant

BrantRavagedWhere I Got It: Review copy via the narrator & Audiobook Monthly (thanks!)

Narrator: Wayne June

Publisher: Self-published (2014)

Length: 7 hours 3 minutes

Series: Book 3 The Hunger

Author’s Page

Book 3 picks up roughly 1 month after Book 2 ends. Our heroes are still at the compound they wrested away from the maniacal Ralph. Other survivors continue to join them and the camp’s resources are starting to strain. Add to that, the infected monsters seem to be getting smarter and are targeting the camp. Even with the arrival of a new ally, they might not survive.

Our main foursome continue to face the odds. Each one of them has a demon or three to face in this installment of The Hunger series. Lance York, the man who started the apocalypse in nothing but a hospital gown, has gone from being a sad couch potato to a man of action. He’s at that point where he can look at himself and see the changes – both physically and psychologically. The world has gone to crap and he has risen from it, becoming a man he can respect. I have really enjoyed his story arc because he is just such a normal guy. Perhaps we would all benefit from an apocalypse.

Cass continues to grow as a character too. She was use to fending for herself before the infected covered the Earth. However, her time spent with Lance has shown her the benefits to being a little soft around a few select humans. She’s still a bad ass with a war axe and has her own dress code, but now she has opened a bit to Lance and even Emmett and Meghan.

Speaking of Emmett and Meghan, they play more central roles in this book as well. The group as a whole face some difficult decisions, but both Meghan and Emmett, who have trained and served in their own ways to protect and preserve life, must face the decision to take life. They were fine sidekicks in Book 2; in this book, they are integral and I would miss them if they weren’t there.

The plot line keeps us moving along. There’s still plenty of action and savagery from the infected, but those are punctuated with moments of reflection or humor. One of the things I really like about this series is that the dangers change with each book. We have the human dangers – humans like to be jerks to each other and that probably won’t change. Also, the infected – those savage monsters – have started to show more than bestial reactions to stimuli. They are already incredibly deadly, but now imagine them able to reason and problem solve! It makes for a very exciting plot!

With new foes and dangers, I was concerned for more than one of our foursome throughout the book. The ending was very satisfying and I can only hope that the author continues on with these characters. I am not ready to let them go.

Narration:  Wayne June once again was THE voice for Lance York. I like his average guy in a crappy situation voice. It really suits Lance’s humor. As usual, Wayne had a good array of male and female voices for all the other characters. He even pulled off a Pittsburgh-specific accent for one side character that I thought was very well done.

What I Liked:  The cover art; Cass’s attitude; I was worried about some of characters making it out alive!; the monsters aren’t as stupid as we all thought; trust issues; the ending was satisfying.

What I Disliked:  Nothing – I really enjoyed this book!

What Others Think:

Michael Loring

Fun With Books

Indie Addict

Consumed by Jason Brant

BrantConsumedWhere I Got It: Review copy via Audiobook Monthly (thanks!)

Narrator: Wayne June

Publisher: Self-published (2014)

Length: 6 hours 55 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Hunger

Author’s Page

Book 2 picks up about 1 week after Book 1 ended. Our heroes, Lance York and Cass of the War Axe, are on a boat in the Allegheny River outside of Pittsburgh. Dr. Emmett Brown and soldier Meghan Iverson are still with the duo, providing cover fire and medical treatment as needed. The world continues to devolve in to mutated monsters that roam night and day and militant, power-hungry humans. Yet, the river seems the safest….at least until they lose their boat.

If you read my review of Devoured, Book 1, then you know I really enjoyed the start to this series. Book 2 does not disappoint in continuing the tale. In fact, I will say it is even better because Lance worked through a lot of his issues with his e-wife in Book 1 and we don’t have that slowing down the story line of Book 2. Our main characters are a unit, swiftly reacting to each other. Our plot is moving forward at a good clip. The scenery continues to devolve, creating more traps for our heroes. All the elements are present for a great zombie story, which this is. I enjoyed this book all in one day, coming up with additional chores to keep me in the kitchen or folding laundry, just so I would have a bit more listening time.

Cass continues to be my hero. I want to grow up to be her and do shots with her. She’s very practical in how she tackles this new world, taking axe to monsters and human threats as needed. Plus, I like the way she dresses, even if many of the side characters think it strange. I expect as the world continues to circle the toilet, we’ll see more and more folks dressing as they like instead of according to supposed societal norms.

As Lance spends more time with her, he comes to realize that he isn’t nearly as adept at dispatching foes as Cass is, and this bothers him a little bit. I loved that he was aware of his feelings of inadequacy, and how silly that was with the world as we know it ending and all, and yet he struggled with it. It created some humor and made Lance very human.

Brown and Iverson become more prominent in the story and we get some back story to each of them. Of course, the Back to the Future jokes continue with Dr. Brown’s name, but they are sprinkled throughout the tale and don’t become annoying. Also, we learn the source of the Xavier Virus name – which I won’t spoil here. It is a little joke for geeks and nerds. It made me chuckle.

All in all, this was an excellent continuation of the The Hunger series. Book 2 closed off a few smaller story arcs while opening a larger one. I am very much looking forward to Book 3!

Narration:  Wayne June is a great voice for Lance, who is a pretty average guy. Wayne brings Lance to life with his emotions and his humor. I can’t imagine another narrator portraying Lance. Wayne also has a variety of voices for the ladies and other men. He does a great gruff old geezer and a crazy radio codger.

What I Liked:  The cover art; Cass’s war axe; Lance and his struggle with playing second fiddle to Cass in the zombie killing department; very satisfying ending.

What I Disliked:  Nothing – I really enjoyed this book!

What Others Think:

Michael Loring

Fun With Books

Lotion by Jason Brant

BrantLotionWhere I Got It: Own an ecopy.

Publisher: Self-published (2014)

Length: 28 pages

Series: Book 1.5 The Hunger

Author’s Page

The world has been hit hard by illness, an illness that leaves raving Day Walkers wandering around who eventually devolve into these light intolerant, mutated, super strong, and super aggressive beasts. Adam watched as his beloved city fell apart, and then he smartly found a bank vault he lock himself into. Yet eventually he must wander out for food and sustenance, which is when he meets Greg, a man truly not in touch with the reality of the situation.

Folks, The Hunger is my current favorite series! So I had to check out this short story, which initially appeared in the anthology Apocalypse edited by Cynthia Shepp. Now you can buy the ebook version of this short story as a stand alone. If you haven’t read The Hunger series, this work does stand on it’s own. Here you meet two characters that show up in Book 2, but there aren’t any particular spoilers for Book 2.

Adam is a practical man and a bit clever. He saw the world was going barbaric and primal and he gathered some essential supplies and found a bank vault. A week or so later, he needs to resupply so he heads for his old nearby apartment (as he is like 90% sure he will find what he needs there) and comes across his idiot neighbor Greg. Much danger for Adam ensues….and much humor for the reader. Greg is so oblivious to the danger he is in that he provides plenty of comedic relief to a very serious situation.

The ending veers a little from the version of their introduction to the main series in Book 2, but not so much as to be jarring. The ending lets the reader decide if they made it out or not. This short story is an excellent addition to the series. I really enjoyed it not only for Greg’s antics but also for another person’s views on the nocturnal monsters that now rule the city.

What I Liked: Fun addition to the series; Adam is so practical; Greg is so oblivious; the monsters are ever so deadly.

What I Disliked: Nothing – very fun short story!

What Others Think: 

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