by Alicia Glass, contributing writer
Welcome to the zombie apocalypse, as imagined by Ben Reeder! Make sure you follow every single last one of our narrator, Dave Stewart’s, rules for survival. There are now twenty-two of them. Stewart makes his way across Kansas City, where the helicopter holding his girlfriend’s daughter and what was left of a Marine squad went down, toward a meet-up of survivors in Wyoming. More rules are coming all the time.
Dave Stewart is a man who believes in being prepared for every possible eventuality, even, and perhaps most especially, during the zombie apocalypse. This means stripping the dead of their guns and gear (they won’t need it), taking everything they can carry from the hospital the downed helicopter landed on, knowing how to make a stove from a coffee can, always carry a sword and/or knife, and know how to use it (from years in the Society for Creative Anachronism: SCA, for short), follow the rules of survival, and be on your guard every possible second. You never know when someone like mad Prophet Daniel (“His named used to be Matt Hall, but when he talked to God, he got a different name,”) and the Disciples of the Anointed will come across your sorry butt and decide hey, you can help us remake what’s left of the world. Dave doesn’t take particularly kindly to this, especially when he’s roundly informed that his beloved Amy, daughter of his girlfriend Maya, is going to be one of the Prophet’s new wives. (That’s a whole different apocalypse.)
A whole bunch of gratuitous violence and killing later, and we’re back to the original plan: get the hell out of the city and head for Wyoming. It may be a tad more difficult now, though, since Dave and the surviving Marines have now acquired a whole bunch of people who were being held hostage in the Prophet’s compound; of course they want to escape too. Despite (or perhaps entirely because of) the zombie apocalypse going on all around them, far too many of the survivors turn up their pert noses at the idea of manual labor, violence, and culling zombies and ghouls. None of the old rules, social castes or the like apply now, and Dave makes this clear to his wayward survival group in no uncertain terms.
Hot on Dave and everyone else’s heels are the Disciples, a semi-survivor of the zombie-fying Asura virus whom Dave calls Zero, government conspiracy and assassin fighters Monos group, and let’s not forget the psycho who appears to have some control over zombies, called appropriately enough, Necromancer. Isn’t that enough? Dave just wants to make it to the bolthole waiting for him, where Maya is supposed to be, a place tended to by his old friend Nate. Most of the fighters and survivors (the real ones, not the “I have an MBA!” crapheads) hail from the SCA themselves, so Dave is right at home as he slices and dices his way through one zombie horde after another. And Amy: dear, sweet, adorably defiant Amy, gets a lesson in every single thing Dave learned along the way, while in some cases actually managing to teach him a thing or two about not just surviving, but continuing to live – together.
So should you join the Zompoc Survivors in their seemingly endless struggle? Sure. This is the kind of zombie book for your not-so-average weekend warrior: the SCA fighter sporting inexplicable Fight Club style bruises to his “real” work, or the social-worker-by-day who, when night comes down, beams her joyfully unselfconscious way through the slaughter of many RPGs built around Star Trek!