Cover Image: Apocalypse Yesterday

Apocalypse Yesterday

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Member Reviews

I really wanted a zombie filled action packed book, one that would keep me on the edge of my seat but instead I found a flashback anthology with an uninteresting lead character.

Rip is the kind of character that just needs to grow up and I found it frustrating hearing him moan about everything when he should have been happy to be alive.

I can 100% see what the author is trying to do with the aftermath of the zombie outbreak, giving a new spin on zombie tales but for me, I just wanted zombie action and suspense.

I also found the writing style to be a little unorganised? Sometimes it sounded and read correctly and then another, usually around a dialogue part, it sounded like the author was trying to mimic his young nephew?

I hope this does well but for me it’s just not what I wanted.
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This is your typical zombie book but instead of in midst of the chaos, it takes place after the zombie apocalypse as already happened and people are living their normal lives. Taking selfies with zombie hordes, shopping at a grocery store when a zombie walks through the door, portraits of zombies in museums. It's all part of life. 

This book, I felt, could have been brilliant – it has the premise of a great story line but fell short in my opinion.  We are subjected to various characters entering the story without really learning anything about them, what type of people they are etc. The story felt very random at some points; there is plenty of action but sometimes to the point of not really knowing what was happening. The story never goes into much detail about any of the missions the group embark on and it was difficult to keep up with at times. It felt a little rushed in parts and could have been beefed out a little.

I felt that while the character is portrayed as an adult (40), his thoughts and speech mirrors that of a high-school student. He is very immature at times, and borderline problematic.
He's plainly an a-hole.
Example 1:
“I’m still not learning Mexican,” I say.
“What’s the difference?”

That made it an instant bad book for me.
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Down the years I have read a fair number of zombie novels and it would be fair to say that comedies are very difficult to pull off. Wracking my brains, I am struggling to remember one single example which was laugh-out-loud funny and although Apocalypse Yesterday had me chuckling, it was offbeat rather than hilarious. Perhaps the zombie comedy works better on screen than on the page with stuff like Zombieland which this was slightly reminiscent of? 

 The backbone of the story was both clever and original and if you think the zombie story has been retold to death and beyond Apocalypse Yesterday does genuinely bring a fresh spin to it. However, it was let down by its execution which I found to be slightly muddled and a story told over two time periods which too similar. The story starts some months after the end of a zombie apocalypse, main character Rip, is in a fast-food restaurant and is told that if he wants to eat he must put away his machete (which he calls ‘Santana’) as it makes other guests uncomfortable. This is the crux of the story: Rip genuinely misses the now concluded zombie apocalypse and the whole of Apocalypse Yesterday is built around this idea. If he were to go to work without Santana that would truly signify that the boring old humdrum world of a 9-5 working day is truly back to stay. 

The two time periods the story is told in are probably between one and two years apart, with the apocalypse lasting about six months before mankind triumphed over the dead. The flashback period was much stronger (and funnier) than the latter taking us back to when Rip encounters and kills his first zombie in a supermarket and then a few neighbours. He amusingly credits Ving Rhames and the Dawn of the Dead remake for his survival and the book is loaded with referential pop-culture references. However, to the knowledgeable horror fan it is also inconsistent, most of the zombies were portrayed as very slow (original Romero style), but there were also fast examples:

“Fast. I forgot how fast they are. Not like the George Romero slouchers; they’re 28 Days later sprinters. This zombie is quicker and stronger than the man could have been in real life.”

In the present day, story Rip’s life is rubbish and spends his time working a job he hates in a Florida call centre responding to customer complaints. He fails to see the relevance of emails bitching about whether the contents of a carton of Pringles is broken when a few months earlier he was swinging Santana killing zombies. This is an important element of the story: Rip was very good at killing zombies, but in the recovered America he is a nobody and has failed to reacclimatise to his old life. This was a great idea, but something was missing, the zombie apocalypse lacked detail and one wondered why Rip missed it so much? Okay, he met a cool woman and defended the Lazy River Waterpark, but apart from that it did not particularly convince. Neither was Rip a hero, in actual fact, he came across as both irritating and self-centred, especially as he dreams of restarting the apocalypse which is the main thrust of the present-day story. 

This is not a book to be taken seriously and ultimately it is very stupid, but it does have some very funny moments. Here is one of my favourites featuring a zombie Donald Trump:

“And then there’s Trump. Zombie Trump trudging across the green in his presidential pyjamas. He looks around, bewildered. He stops at the hole and touches the flag. He says uuuurg? And from off-screen comes the sound of a gunshot, and then blood is coming out of his head and he falls. A Secret Service guy comes on-screen and walks up to the body. He fires fourteen more times, empties all the bullets into the zombie president’s motionless body. He looks up smiling, and then he sees the cameraman. ‘Aw, shit’ he says, and he makes the cutting motion, hand across his neck. The blue screen comes back, and then there’s nothing else.”

If you are after some light relief then Apocalypse Yesterday has some laughs and might have you asking about what you might do in a similar apocalypse? Would you hunker down and hide or embrace the destruction head on? Are you destined to become a leader ala ‘Rick Grimes’ from The Walking Dead? Or are you more of a reluctant survivor, in the style of ‘Columbus’ from Zombieland? The great Bill Murray also appears in Zombieland, in Apocalypse Yesterday we have a brief appearance from Jack Nicholson! 

Zombie comedies are a tricky beast to get right and Apocalypse Yesterday is a valiant attempt. Interestingly, most of the most successful examples I have come across lean into the realms of YA such as Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies, Paulo Bacigalupi’s Zombie Baseball Beatdown, Hilary McKay’s Undead series or Jeff Hart’s Eat Brains Love. I am sure they are out there, but truly adult examples do seem to be in short supply.
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This book is good fun, full of post-post apocalypse blues and midlife crises.
The protagonist is back in his pre zombie apocalypse job in a call center, still carrying his matchete and longing for the good old days of Zombie killing, and simpler life.
The author has a good eye for the comic side of the zombie outbreak and there is a bit of sharp social commentary in between zombie killings.
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A refreshing take on the Apocalypse novel, laugh out loud in some places, very addictive & oh so sad it’s done.
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It was an interesting idea: what happens after the Apocalypse has happened and you have survived. According to this book it turns back to, relatively, normal. The products mostly come from new Russia who have reaped the benefits of years of practice fighting zombies (who knew they are buried under the ice in northern Siberia? Adds an extra edge to the global warming threat doesn't it?)  This was a fun book to read, didn't take me too long and, like I said, the idea is kind of different than most zombie apocalypse books. It tells you about Rip, a survivor from the apocalypse who after 3 months living with the thrill of killing and leading a group of people is now back in his mindnumbing callcenter job and secretly longs back to that time and the Russian woman he fell in love with. 

The books switches between then and the events now, which makes the contrast between the feeling of being alive while in survival mode and being stuck in a dead end job all the while feeling like your life is just passing by even bigger. Blood and gore are often mentioned and the writing style is crisp and to the point. For some reason it feels more like a guy book, but as a woman I had fun with it too and I really liked the slightly different approach this time so if you enjoy a zombie apocalypse book every once in a while you might want to look into this one.

***An ARC was provided Netgalley in exchange for an honest review ***
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I absolutely loved this book. I love anything about the apocalypse and this one didn't let me down. Had me sucked in from the start.
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