Let me start by saying this is a unique and quite different “Zombie” story, and even if you do not like the genre, I think you will enjoy the depth and complexity found in this book. I am not a person who enjoys zombie-themed books and was unsure going into the series if I would complete it or not. I will say I’m glad I did complete it and hope to provide details on why in my review below.
“The Last”, book 1 of the Zombie Ocean series takes the often over used zombie theme and crafts a distinctive tale that I have never experienced in the genre before. I cannot give away too much detail in this review because the story itself contains many surprises making the book special and exciting. The author (Michael John Grist) skillfully takes the reader down what appears a quite familiar zombie path, but one quickly discovers that they have misunderstood the story’s direction. From here, the story continues to grow and get better with every page. The book’s audiobook version is greatly enhanced by Sean Patrick Hopkins’ narration; covered later in the review.
The book is much more than your average zombie message consisting of overly grotesque and violent events occurring on every page, that is not to say the book is boring. However, it may be so different that some readers may be expecting your standard fair going in to it. This may be why some who enjoy the genre stated they did not enjoy this book. One also must consider this is only the first book in an unknown number of books of a series. What is covered in book one of the series appears to be setting things up for much more coming in future books. Book one could be read as a standalone story because many of the plot lines are closed, but there is so much more waiting to be answered so I would not be surprised if people wanted to jump right into book 2, etc.
The best way I can describe the book is a blending of “Last man on Earth”, “Cast Away”, and a little bit of most consistent zombie movies. The book is mostly about one man’s journey and his attempt at survival, but as stated it also contains quite a few twists and turns along the way. There are high times of action and excitement along with a good balance of emotional and relationship and family aspects. The author includes qualities of humor and modern world amenities such as massive multiplayer crafting games, coffee shops on every corner, and even a restaurant robot cat; yes, you read that last part correctly. Two things stuck with me from the book. The first was the saying, “Boring is your bandage” and a conversation involving a diet mayo tuna sandwich; yuck but I grew up with them. You will need to read the book to know the context these are referring too.
I would not recommend this book to younger readers as it contains frequent uses of vulgar language along with scenes containing sex and implied sexual violence. There are also a limited number of scenes of graphic violence, but fewer than I would expect of books in the genre.
As with other books I have listened too narrated by Sean Patrick Hopkins, this is what one expects from his works. A professional read audiobook with no issues observed while listening. His pacing of the book was steady and his use of inflection helped clarify times of intense actions or emotion. Mr. Hopkins knows his material well and it shows in his narration. I will continue to keep him on my notification list so I can be alerted when new books are released.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.