Zach Gunderson’s life sucked and then the zombie apocalypse began.
Rick, an aging Vietnam veteran, alcoholic, and prepper, convinces Zach that the apocalypse is on the horizon. The two of them take refuge at a remote farm. As the zombie plague rages, they face a terrifying fight for survival.
They soon learn however that the walking dead are not the only monsters.
Originaltiy 5/5 & Entertainment 5/5
In Zombie Rules David Achord successfully executes the premise that you are reading a zombie novel told from the perspective of a teenager. What makes this particular book unique, aside from the perspective itself, are the events which unfold. Zach’s world collapses shortly before the rest of the world follows suit. Eight of the initial chapters are spent following Zach through his every day life and establishing that he does in fact have prime reason to be miserable. His parents are dead, his grandmother falls ill suddenly after a stroke and passes shortly after, he loses the girl of his dream, and gets the tar kicked out of him – and that’s before the zombie outbreak has made much progress! The final “normal” action he takes is deciding to take up residency with his former boss, Rick, who served in Vietnam. Rick apparently spent his brief glimpses of sobriety in the last few decades preparing for the end of the world, which is the extent of his practical usefulness in the first stretch of the book. (
Does anyone else think that it’s fairly depressing that having a paranoid old man for a boss is the extent of Zach’s good fortune prior to the end of the world..?)
Unlike Kellie’s Diary which centered around a child trying to navigate a zombie ravaged world or The Zombies Volume One which followed several teens, this novel follows the unlikely hero Zach as he adapts to his new reality and stays with him throughout his experience. Zach’s voice is very distinct, and I appreciate the dry wit and humor that is laced throughout the book. Achord’s approach to writing a teen boy makes the narration incredibly enjoyable rather than tedious or irritating. Although there certainly is an appropriate amount of angst and ‘woe is me’ that rightly comes with everything in Zach’s life falling apart, he maintains a relatively decent outlook. (And what he lacks in positivism he makes up for with sardonic humor; essentially my kind of character all around.)
Writing Style 4/5
As I hinted at above, I enjoy David Achord’s writing style throughout this book. I wasn’t aware of who the narrator was when reading the first chapter, which I believe is largely the point, and that same ability to deviate from the expected is part of what makes Achord’s writing so enjoyable. Zach has a very distinct, believable voice. Suspension of belief is already such a required part of reading and enjoying zombie fiction that I can rarely muster additional suspense for an unbelievable character. (I rarely am able to finish books with ex-military main characters with an arsenal in the basement and Hollywood good looks who happened to fall into the misfortune of a zombie apocalypse after restocking their basement fall out shelter. …I exaggerate, but you know the type.) I appreciate also the honest ability of a young man to be able to use the word “acquiesce” with the same nonchalant authority and confidence that he will admit that his balls hurt from the beating he took earlier in the book. In addition to his varied vocabulary, Zach is bright, has an excellent memory, and has common sense in matters which don’t pertain to his ex-girlfriend. This is an accurate representation of most of the teens I know, and it helps promote the realism of an impossible situation.
Writing Flow 5/5 & Character Description 5/5
Zach’s narration follows the events of his life in a largely chronological order which makes things easy to follow. You see the natural progression of the outbreak across the United States and the world thanks to Rick’s Ham radio use and the persistence of news programs in the early days of a steadily growing, worldwide pandemic. There are bits of foreshadowing sprinkled throughout the book, so as you read be on the lookout for seemingly insignificant, telling details.
There are points in the book where the perspective shifts somewhat. Zach maintains his position as primary narrator, but when he is away during important scenes the narration shifts to a third person account of other characters’ interactions. Since these shifts are brief and flanked on either side by narration provided by Zach, they don’t interrupt the overall feel of the story. It should be noted that character description throughout the book is excellent in content and is meaningful. Rather than flooding the reader with gratuitous detail that bog down the story, Achord provides information in a timely, relevant fashion. You hear about the appearance of Felix when his character is introduced. Details about Rick’s appearance (
such as the fact that he saves his dentures for meals and special occasions; delicious.) are peppered throughout his mentions throughout the book, and the descriptions and facts about subsequent characters follow suit.
Apparently books that are part of a series is the unintentional theme for January, but that’s okay with me as long as they continue being as fun as Zombie Rules, Dead Days, and Mad World. Zombie Rules is the first of (so far) three novels in the Zombie Rules series, and I am eagerly awaiting my opportunity to review Z14 (Book 2), and ZFINITY(Book 3). I’m resisting the urge to give away plot details, but I do want to say that the plot of Zombie Rules definitely took me places that I didn’t expect for it to go, and I’m sure that with the promise that Zach discovers ‘something very sinister about the zombies’ in Z14 it will be another wild ride. (I’m struggling to fathom something more sinister about zombies than, you know, being zombies.)