Within the last several years the popularity of zombies, vampires and werewolves has sky rocketed due to releases such as the Twilight Novels and television programmes such as The Walking Dead. Due to this popularity there has been a significant growth in dystopian and fantasy books being published as people world-wide want more chilling, brain impaling, gory book goodness. This thirst for books on the undead is what lead me to find a peculiar book titled Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse? by author Max Brallier.
On first glance it was the books graphic novel like cover that caught my eye and made me want to delve into this book. Although you should not judge a book by its cover, this one certainly provides the reader with a lasting impression. The front and back cover pages provide you with everything you need to know about this book, from the author’s devious sense of humour to the moral responsibilities that the reader will encounter as they navigate this book. Max Brallier describes this book saying ‘that within its pages lies unspeakable horror. You’ve probably read your fair share of zombie stories but this time it’s different. The choice is yours and if you don’t survive, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself’.
The non-traditional aspect of this book is that it allows the reader to make decisions and choose their own fate. This reason alone, with the fact that it is set during a zombie apocalypse, is why I bought this book. Surely everyone nowadays, with all the films and games featuring zombies has imagined some scenario where there are zombies on the loose and you need to do what you can to survive. Max Brallier through this book provides you with the relatively safe way to play through these scenarios and finally see whether or not you have what it takes to survive the hordes of zombies. By playing through the variety of different choices, means that the reader not only has one book but many, and can read through again and again discovering new more ghastly scenes as they make new decisions. On my first read through of this book I unfortunately only last about 20 minutes having gotten eaten by a number of newly turned zombies, however second time round I again got torn apart by zombies but this time lasted just under an hour and managed to save a young boy in the process. As of this moment I have read through this book over a dozen times and so far no two times have been the same.
I have not had much experience in reading the ‘pick your own adventure’ style books, and the handful that I have have all been aimed at teenagers and younger readers. Having this book aimed towards adults lifts all restraints and allows the author to be as bloody, dark and gruesome as he wants, of which you will often see. Although at times this book can conjure up some stomach churning images, that is all part of what makes this a fun book to read, what would a zombie apocalypse be without someone’s ear being bitten off or head being blown off with a shotgun.
What really makes this book for me is not only that you get the freedom to make choices, but that the choices you make and how the characters act seem real, and not just the main character but every person that you come across through your journey. It’s very refreshing to see characters that aren’t all clear cut, black and white, hero or coward, as is how people are in real life. This aspect also uniquely encompasses the reader as they along with all of the other characters have to make moral decisions, on whether to save people or leave them to die. Max Brallier is able to strengthen this realistic feeling through his use of witty comments and humorous zombie settings. I was lucky enough to witness an epic battle at New Yorks Comic Con, when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles helped to fend off zombie versions of the Ghostbusters. Reading that popular characters such as Woody from Toy Story scramble around at your feet trying to bite you, honestly brings up mixed feelings about whether you want to smash a Nintendo into his head.
Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse? Is a book for almost any occasion, whether it’s several hours in the car, or a spare half an hour before going to bed. With its variety of endings you may never be able to traverse each path to fully complete the book. Max Brallier is skilfully able to put you in some of the goriest settings you will ever find yourself in, make you choose to slay zombies with nothing but a plank of wood, but at the end of the day is able to keep the book light-hearted enough that you don’t end up having nightmares. Definitely a combination that I’m in favour of. Most importantly by reading this book you may just gain some useful knowledge, if ever you find yourself having to escape New York with zombies on your tail.