What happens when you mix a great idea (Zombies arrive via virus strain in Southwest Texas post-hurricane) with too many plot devices and an author who feels like throwing everything and the kitchen sink, all into one novel? Apocalypse of the Dead. And that’s not a good thing.  Starting out as an amazing idea, but wasting away word-by-word, forget the Little Train That Could. This is the Novel that Couldn’t. The book couldn’t keep the quality it promised in its back-cover summary, which was a lot.

Apocalypse of the Dead is book two of the four-part Dead World book series, and one I unexpectedly picked up out of order. It’s too bad, since there was so much action happening in one timeline, this could’ve translated into a spectacular feature film.  Joe McKinney tries to create a “narrative of the zombie outbreak” to “find a reason for it all,” but instead creates unnecessary characters and details to bog down the story from moving at a brisk pace. In fact, he’s inventing new characters and giving them back-stories all the way up to page 273 before killing them off a couple pages later instead of focusing on the important, main characters, and developing them. This totally destroys any sympathy the reader may have for the numerous characters.

Of all that’s bad in this novel, McKinney does run across a few novel aspects, such as: blaming the zombie outbreak on the necrosis filovirus infection, creating a walled-in quarantine zone completely surrounding San Antonio and allowing the zombie inhabitants to escape, using the simultaneous timeline among various cities leading to a grand showdown in North Dakota and the late-story twist of turning the protagonist into the antagonist were all good story elements.

At one point, the book transfers from novel to notebook/diary format, like a blatant rip-off of “World War Z,” a far-superior zombie novel. At other points, McKinney becomes blunt and crass — kind of showing off — informally writing as if having a conversation and feels like he isn’t a formally trained writer. Along with the random typos, these passages are tough to read. Overall, it’s a great concept, but a not-so-great reading experience.

Noteworthy Quotes:
– “The medical solution may not be the only solution.”
– “Most of us hate Officer Barnes. We think he’s a tyrant, insane, abnormally cruel. But there’s a reason we keep following him. He does keep us alive.”
– “The federal government’s response had been orchestrated with their usual day-late-and-a-dollar-short philosophy toward disaster mitigation. Now there were thousands dead, and tens of thousands had been infected because they couldn’t be evacuated from affected areas in time.”

Rating: 2/5