I’ve never had any love for the whole Zombie genre of fiction. I understand that it’s based in mankind’s innate fear of…well, mankind; the horror of those faceless mobs around us eventually turning on those of us that are human and destroying the thin veil of civilization that covers the primal urges we all feel, the need to destroy so that we ourselves may grow stronger…
But I digress. I’m not a fan of all that. I like people! And it’s because I like people that I finally bought a book about zombies.
It all started with Favorite Thing EVER. (have I mentioned that site before?) Matt Youngmark is my contact on the inside of the FTE Empire, and over the time I’ve been writing (sporadically) for FTE I’ve had more than one opportunity to chat a little with Matt (via email mostly) and discover that we have quite a bit in common, and should we ever meet in real life we’d almost certainly get on well with one another.
A few days ago Matt casually mentioned that buying his Choose Your Own Adventure/comedy/horror/zombie book Zombocalypse Now! wouldn’t be a terrible idea and I casually spent $3 for it. At the time I thought I would just buy it to do a favor for someone I think of as a friend. But now I’d gladly buy it even if I didn’t know the money was going to someone awesome.
Look, I’m still not a fan of the rotting undead eating people. But Matt’s sense of humor and dry take on the whole situation makes it manageable. This is the Plants vs. Zombies level of horror: sure the bad guys are out there and are basically unstoppable, but the whole thing is just kinda fun. The point of view character (in true CYOA style ZN is written in 2nd person) is a stuffed bunny. Why? Not explored, not important. But it sets the tone for the rest of the book: slightly off-kilter, silly, fun, and interesting.
Depending on your choices you’ll meet up with a loose cannon ex-cop on the edge who’s bent on cleaning up this town, or maybe a conspiracy theorist who’s pretty sure he’s figured out what’s going on…and most likely die. The book’s cover loudly proclaims 112 different endings; I’m willing to bet that something like 109 of them feature your demise and acceptance as one of the mindless hordes. But you’ll go back, try again, and again, and again. The choices are intelligently designed; it’s not like you’re given one choice that’s obviously right and in character and one that’s thrown in just to give you a choice; they’re all things that make sense in the situation, and you’ll learn a few things about yourself as you make them.
Slowly, gently, the book builds up the real zombie-horror feeling: the sense that there is no way out, that every victory is really just a slight delay of defeat, and that despite your best efforts you’re going to trip up somewhere and be eaten. Then suddenly you stumble across a page that has you laughing out loud. The claustrophobia isn’t entirely dispelled, but it’s lightened somewhat. One of these times I’ll probably find an ending where I survive as well, and that’ll be awesome.
So, if you’re looking for some roughly Rated-PG Choose Your Own Adventure fun, head on over to chooseomatic.com and pick up Zombocalypse Now! now! At the very least it’ll give you something to do until you get bitten by an infected raccoon and lose your grip on your stuffed pink bunny-hood.