Thursday, December 1, 2011
Escape from Zombie City
by Ray Wallace
Published by Apex Book Company
RAY WALLACE hails from the Tampa, FL area and is the author of The Nameless (Black Death Books). More than two dozen of his short stories have appeared in such magazines and anthologies as The Zombie Fee: VOL. 1, The Blackest Death: VOL. 1&2, and Erotic Fantasy: Tales of the Paranormal. A few of his other stories have appeared at The Chiaroscuro website where he took first place in their second annual fiction contest. He also wrote a long running book review column for The Twilight Showcase webzine and now writes reviews for Chizine and SFReader.com. His most recent novel is Escape From Zombie City.
In the past few days, I have been bombed; fallen to my death on top of a zombie; mauled by zombies in an elevator; captured by religious fanatics for the sake of sacrifice only to be bombed again; trapped into a car and eaten to death; shot execution style by the military; shot off the top of a building; trapped on a boat, pulled under by zombies and eaten to death while drowning; and turned into a zombie. All of this is thanks to Ray Wallace's Escape from Zombie City. Escape from Zombie City is a story in which the reader is periodically given choices, and these choices lead to different endings. Most of these endings result in the death of the reader, but one leads to ultimate survival. This book is built around the model of the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books popular with tweens in the 1980s and 90s, but with far grislier content.
While the concept of a CYOA novel for adults is not new, this is the first attempt I know of using zombies, which seems like a natural fit. Zombie tales, be they fiction, films or otherwise, center around the choices made by the protagonists attempting to escape or simply survive. These choices sometimes lead to freedom, but usually lead to one or many of the main characters being eaten alive. In Escape from Zombie City, you face the same fate. The choices readers make can lead to freedom, but usually lead to the reader's demise. As the series title suggests, there literally is only one way out.
There are a few issues with the various plots. For example, in one narrative, the reader's gun gets stolen, but a few pages later, the reader uses it to beat off a zombie. Other narratives are quite short, the length of a short story, which makes for a disappointing read. But of course, that's all part of the adventure. Reader's can learn from their mistakes, flip back a few pages, make better decisions, and survive. That, or they can die an equally horrible death. Wallace makes sure that happens a lot.
All in all, the cleverness of the novel and its nostalgic throwback to CYOA novels more than makes up for any disappointments the reader might have with the book. Ray Wallace's Escape from Zombie City is a really fun read and welcome addition to zombie literature.
Buy it here.
Reviewed By Joshua Gage
Joshua Gage is an ornery curmudgeon from Cleveland. His first full-length collection, "breaths", is available from VanZeno Press. Intrinsic Night, a collaborative project he wrote with J. E. Stanley, was recently published by Sam’s Dot Publishing. He is a graduate of the Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Naropa University. He has a penchant for Pendleton shirts, rye whiskey and any poem strong enough to yank the breath out of his lungs. He stomps around Cleveland in a purple bathrobe where he hosts the monthly Deep Cleveland Poetry hour and enjoys the beer at Brew Kettle. Hooks and Books livejournal.com