The Horror Zine Review
How I Started the Apocalypse
by Brian Pinkerton
|Paperback: 164 pages
Publisher: Createspace (September 3, 2012)
Size: 9 x 6 x 0.4 inches
How I Started the Apocalypse
by Brian Pinkerton
Review by Michael Albani
In other books, it’s a cliché we’ve seen time and time again in horror stories of the zombie subgenre. A man wakes up from a coma in an empty hospital room. He manages to make his way out of bed only to be shocked by the discovery that he is one of the last survivors of the zombie apocalypse! But what happens when this trope is turned on its head? What happens when the man wakes up to find he is not a survivor, but a zombie? Then, dear readers, you know you have entered the fresh take on the zombie world of Brian Pinkerton’s How I Started the Apocalypse.
Released in 2012 by independent publisher Severed Press, How I Started the Apocalypse follows Chaz Singleton, a former construction worker and current zombie. Just how did Chaz become a zombie, and how does he retain the cognizance and mental capacities of a member of this mortal coil? Well, it all begins when he dies in a crane accident. He is pronounced dead at the scene to all his friends and loved ones, but his body is intercepted by the United States Department of Defense and reanimated into what they hope will be the first “smart” zombie in line of undead super soldiers.
If I had to categorize exactly what kind of zombie Chaz falls is, I would say he falls somewhere in between the stumbling living dead of George Romero’s film classics and the running infected of Zach Snyder’s reinterpretations. Chaz is quick on his feet and exhibits super human strength. But he also has an accursed appetite for human flesh.
How I Started the Apocalypse is Mr. Pinkerton’s ninth book, and his literary experience shows in the quality of his prose. The sentence structure in this novel is simple and easy to understand, but at times it also shines through with some surprising complexity. One of my personal favorite scenes occurs early in the novel when Chaz’s wife, who had been cheating on him in life and death, finds herself in the throes of carnal bliss with a lover she is not yet aware has transformed into a zombie. Before feasting, this zombie seems to orally pleasure its victim:
He continued to journey his lips down her body.
Sentences like that last one mark some of the high points of this twisted little tale. The best constructed sentences, after all, are sometimes the ones which make the readers do a little work of their own. Mr. Pinkerton could have gone into great detail to describe the particular aspects of this ravishing death, but he instead left all the gruesome details for us, the readers, to construct in our own imaginations. Well done, Mr. Pinkerton.
Something else perceptive readers will notice from that last passage is that this novel contains some moments of genuine comic gold, especially for fans of morbid humor. A particular chapter I find successful in this regard arrives near the midway point when Chaz, no longer able to cope with that fact that he is a walking cannibal contagion, tries to commit suicide. His various failed attempts are simultaneously heartbreaking and hilarious.
Now, despite all my praise for the novel thus far, I would caution readers not to start thinking it will be the be all and end all masterpiece of zombie fiction, because there are, I feel, a few unfortunate missteps made throughout the way. Most of the villains, for example, are one dimensional at best, all brutish military types with a predisposition for the enjoyment of murder and destruction. Luckily, the main villain, Breck Palmer, is a bit more of an engaging character, acting as the Thunderbolt Ross to Chaz’s Incredible Hulk.
This novel also does not go very far in filling in the plot hole far too many zombie stories have. That is, why do zombies never seem to finish their meals? Chaz, like so many other zombies, can spread his disease by biting people. Responsible fellow that he is, Chaz usually shoots his victims in the head after feasting on them to prevent them returning, but why go through all that trouble? Why not just eat every bit of them down to the bones? After all, corpse can’t be reanimated if there’s nothing left of them but a skeleton. This issue, I’m afraid, is something that is never resolved.
Small issues aside, How I Started the Apocalypse will still make a fine addition to any zombie lover’s library. It’s well written and bloody funny, and you will get the same amount of enjoyment from reading this as you would watching The Return of the Living Dead. Plus, at only 164 pages, it will not be a huge time commitment for those gore hounds with busy schedules. I suppose all that’s left to say then, dear readers, is bon appétit!
You can buy the book HERE
About the Author
Brian Pinkerton is an American author of fiction in the suspense, thriller, mystery and horror genres. His novels include Abducted, Vengeance, Killer's Diary and Rough Cut. Select titles have also been released as audio books and in foreign languages. His debut novel, Killing the Boss, was recently reissued as an eBook.
Brian's short stories have appeared in anthologies including Chicago Blues (Bleak House Books) and Zombie Zoology (Severed Press). His screenplays have finished in the top 100 of Project Greenlight and top two percent of the Nicholl Fellowship of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Brian received his B.A. from the University of Iowa and Master's Degree from Northwestern University.
You can see all of Brian's books HERE
About the Reviewer
Michael Albani is a native of Roseville, Michigan currently working on earning a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a Creative Writing emphasis and History from Albion College. He is the author of short stories and flash fiction in a variety of genres including science fiction, weird fiction, and horror fiction. Some of his horror fiction stories have been published in Flashes in the Dark, Deadman’s Tome, and The Horror Zine.