Run time 11 hrs and 22 mins
In TW Brown’s The Dead – The Ugly Beginning, we are shown the world at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse and introduced to one of the main characters, Steve. Steve finds that what’s happening on his TV is also happening right outside his front door. The book starts out fast, with some humor mixed in as he is forced to venture out into the world to try and survive.
There are some fun references to Zombie Pop Culture icon, George Romero, establishing the author’s love for classic zombies. On a quick side note, fans of Romero in the Pacific Northwest, he will be the guest of honor at this year’s Crypticon Convention in Seattle May 5th – 7th 2017. As will the actors that played Barbara and Johnny in the original Night of the Living Dead. Come out and meet them!
Now back to our review, it doesn’t take long before Steve finds another survivor, a young girl named Theresa, who ends up being a pretty badass character in the story.
While the tale starts out with some humor, about halfway through, as the world and its rules fade into chaos, the story reveals the darker side of humanity. This brings with it some pretty gruesome and potentially disturbing scenes for the listener. Be warned there are quite a few variations on the same theme dealing with violence against women.
Other characters are introduced, including multiple non-connecting storylines through the use of Vignettes. More on this in a bit.
As the story progresses, our main characters meet other survivors and we come to learn that the dead are beginning to form massive hordes that are over-running any human compounds they come across, leaving nowhere safe.
The story ends in such a way as to leave us very uncertain about the future.
What did I like about this story?
The story was well written and showed the decline of civilization in a way you can feel. From people still trying to obey society’s rules during the decline, to the absolute collapse of societal niceties and the lack of trust it creates amongst groups of survivors.
The narration was also well done, with Andrew McFerrin capturing the different voices of the characters nicely, keeping it engaging and the characters unique.
I enjoyed the overall storyline, especially some of the nods to Romero and some of the unique twists such as the zombie’s cry, but I’ll leave that for you to learn more about, it’s pretty evil.
Most of the characters had unique personalities and conflicts which created good stories as well as some real human demons to deal with.
What didn’t I like about this story?
There were a few things I struggled with in this book. First, it is part of a series and as can be the case, there was no resolution to most of the storylines. The story is our introduction to a much larger adventure and we are left with cliffhangers everywhere. Personally, I like books that have at least some sort of resolution to storylines. Setting them up for the future is fine, but leaving us hanging on most counts either means we have to be in for the long haul or left unfulfilled.
There are a series of vignettes in the book where characters are introduced and we are given glimpses into their lives. Some continue through in other vignettes later in the book and some simply end in the character’s death. Each time a new vignette started, I didn’t know if I should care or not. Would this be another character that just died? Or is this someone who is important to the overall story? I didn’t know and for that reason, I found myself groaning whenever another vignette section started.
As mentioned above, one of the other challenges was the number of storylines, that at least in this first book, appeared to have no connection with one another. I was left to assume that at some point in the series they will all connect, but in this book, they were all left unresolved.
There was also a point where I either missed something or the main storyline jumped when they were going to a FEMA center and then the next time we are hearing from those characters they had left the center and made references only to what happened there, leaving me feeling confused and wondering if I had spaced out and missed something important. I didn’t go back and re-listen, so it’s entirely possibly I did.
There is a technical issue at the end of Chapter 7 where there is over a minute long pause in the audio.
Conclusion: (Aka: Would I listen to more by this author?)
I’ve met TW personally and it was great to finally get some time to sit down and listen to one of his books. Despite some of the things I had challenges with, it was well written and there are a number of storylines that I want to know how they turn out, so yes, I would and likely will listen to the next book in the series, Dead – Revelations.
I’ve also heard that the sequel and the later books in the series get more coherent in terms of the storyline and that means that the good stuff will be getting even better. I look forward to it.
I give this 6 out of 10 stars.
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