I am not lost…

May 14, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: EXIT ZERO by Neil A. Cohen

“Admit it, didn’t you always think the zombie apocalypse would begin in New Jersey?”

Okay, if that wasn’t going to catch my attention, I don’t know what would.

I went to an event locally where I got a chance to hear several local-ish authors talk about the craft and their books. I’ve reviewed one of the other books I got there before, and have been meaning to read this one for a while. (Mainly, because I didn’t buy the book for myself. A good friend of mine is from Jersey, and since it was his prompt that got my first story published, he’s got a special place in my writing life and I bought the book for him.) Since I got a chance to actually deliver the book in person a while back, I needed to read the book rapid fire.

Luckily enough, it’s an engaging story and I didn’t have much trouble reading it all in (almost) one fell swoop. It’s a simple enough story line: the zombie apocalypse has started, and you’re in the first few days of it. Try and survive, or hide and die. Cool. I can get behind this.

My one major issue with the story is that we’re seeing it from a lot of different perspectives. There are a bunch of people involved, in several different ways, and we seem to need to see it from each and every one. In addition to that, we see letters and emails and whatnot hinting at other parts of the story which end up adding to the mess of information dump. I love multiple perspectives, but it’s very easy to do badly, or at least not optimally.

I enjoyed the characters, though. There’s a nice variety of personalities, and reactions to the outbreak. We have someone on the inside, others on the borders, some barely involved at all. I genuinely enjoyed the radio dude in the bunker. (I’m sorry I can’t recall names; I don’t have my copy any more so I can’t reference it.)

I did get a bit lost, however, particularly as we got closer to the end. The politics of the matter and how everyone was involved got a little muddy–but I’m willing to place at least some of that on how quickly I was reading. Still, I’m not sure what was intended by it all, and the very end seemed rather lackluster after all the action of the rest of the book. (The very very end was a cheap play for a sequel, and I really can’t see it any other way. It felt entirely thrown in and utterly useless for the plot at hand. There’s not enough in EXIT ZERO to explain any part of why they’re there, and I’m not invested enough in the characters or the idea to care about their story afterward.)

All in all, it was an enjoyable way to spend my afternoon before my event. I’m not heartbroken to not own my own copy, but I’d pick it up again if I could.

Rating: *** (Worth a Look)

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