Sunday, June 5, 2016

Shock jocks and zombies


By Andre Duza 

Publisher: Deadite Press

Pub. Date: December 8, 2014

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have had this book for a year and finally got around to reviewing it. My problem tends to be this. If I buy a book with my own money I have a habit of putting it off because I have requests and deadlines on most of the books I receive for review. it is actually one of the things I don't like about having a review blog not to mention writing the occasional review for the magazines and other web sites. I am definitely not saying reading has become a chore. That is impossible. But it does cut into the adventure of the spontaneous "awesome" discovery. But WZMB came highly recommended by a lot of people I respect not the least being Jeff Burk, the editor at Deadite Pres. Now if you are saying, "Wait a minute. WZMB is from Deadite press. Of course he is going to praise it.", then you don't know Jeff Burk. He may be the editor but he is one of my go-to guys for the spontaneous "awesome" discovery...even if the book is from his publishers and even if the fruition of discovery comes a year later.

If you parsed the title you have figured that WZMB is a zombie novel. But it is a very different zombie novel in structure and story. It is written in the style of a radio show transcript. The novel centers around a Howard Stern-like shock jock and his equally Howard Stern-like sidekicks. The zombie apocalypse starts while they are on the air and we get a nice feeling of the confusion that would emanate from the airwaves if an event like this would occur. Flash forward to 6 months later. The Martin Stone Show has been moved to a complex called the Brand Compound formerly know as Waterfront Luxury Apartments in Philadelphia, PA. It is one of the few secure areas left, maybe the last. Martin's radio show is a bastion of hope delivering the news and messages of the survivors while cynically wondering if hope really exists. But it is slowly revealed that the zombies are not the real threat and that mankind often becomes its own biggest enemy.

The idea that humans are more dangerous than the zombie threat is certainly not original to the genre. Yet WZMB delivers that theme better than most. First, there is that structure of using transcripts. It is a tight and focused method. In this book, it comes across almost as a literary response to the found-footage style of film-making. In fact it is easy to envision this being made into either a movie or play without many changes. One might think the action would suffer in a structure like this but it has the opposite effect. It heightens the tension by focusing on the reactions of those most affected. Second, we have an array of characters that elicit our empathy and interest. Martin Stone, like his thinly disguised real life model, is crass but likable as is his colleagues. There is a variety of minor roles that are essential to the telling such as Dave, the both-feet-on-the-ground security guard who represents stability , Maggie the religious fanatic, and Dr. Hammond, the dim light for hope in the future. Duza brings all these characters together in sort of a culmination of humanity that makes sense but doesn't come out all obvious. The author knows the story is the thing and he has a very creative and impelling story.

WZMB reads fast. It took me an short evening to read through this slightly less than 300 pages. Yet it has more going for it than most over-weight epic tomes. If one is into the zombie genre of horror books than this is a must-read. Do not take a year to begin reading it like I did. Get it now!

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