Category Archives: AudioGo

Mx3 Audiobook Review: Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection by Don Roff and Chris Lane

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  • Publisher: AudioGO; Unabridged edition (September 18, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1620643758
  • Listening Time:1 hour and 41 minutes
  • Source:Publisher

The year is 2012. An infection has hit the Seattle area. The infected die and quickly reanimate. One of the survivors is Dr. Richard Twombly, a hematology-oncology specialist at a blood-treatment facility. Twombly uses his journal to document what transpires. The mysterious virus initially behaves like a flu, making people violently ill. Additionally, many of the victims have no signs of bite marks so the means of transmission is unclear.

After barricading himself and a few survivors inside the treatment facility, it isn’t long before the food supply runs thin and Twombly finds himself to be the only survivor. Forced to put an end to a number of his coworkers, or creatures that used to be his coworkers, Twombly is obviously devastated at what has transpired. He soon realizes he is no longer safe in his makeshift shelter and is forced to go outside and seek higher and safer ground.  Along the way, he meets a number of other survivors and uses his notebook to detail their story of survival. He supplements these survivor stories with scientific observations of the infected, including detailed explanations of their decay process as well as methods for killing the undead. Twombly isn’t shy about mentioning potential causes for the virus…you guessed it, we (humans) are responsible.

While I listened to the audio production of this novel and therefore didn’t have access to the detailed illustrations included in the print version, I don’t feel at all like I missed out on anything. The narration, performed by Stephen R. Thorne, was simply phenomenal. It wasn’t long before I forgot I was listening to an audiobook, instead it seemed as though I was listening to an audio documentary, recorded by Twombly himself. From the rustling of papers to the hint of desperation in Twombly’s voice, this narration very well be the best I’ve ever listened to.

A short audio at just under two hours, I quickly became invested in the story and when it ended, I was truly devastated. I may have uttered a few expletives at the audiobook. I don’t see this as a negative, but as vivid proof that this is a truly remarkable work of fiction. I do plan on purchasing a print copy of this book to relive the experience in print format. For those interested in listening to (or reading) a truly well-done zombie novel, but hesitant due to the potential gore, this is the novel for you. It isn’t overly graphic, but instead truly impressive and addictive experience. Highly, highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher, I have the opportunity to provide readers with access to an exclusive interview with the author, Don Roff:

What was it like to adapt the original graphic novel into an audiobook script?

It was quite easy. The folks at AudioGO highlighted some passages that might not translate well to audio. So, I changed them to reflect that. The adaptation also allowed me to delve more into Twombly’s character. Toward the end of the book, there’s an entirely new section. It turned out well. Now I wish it had been included in the printed edition! Also, the people at AudioGO, like Alex and Vikki Warner, were a joy to work with—flexible, responsive, patient. Everything a good collaboration needs to work.

How did you ensure that listeners wouldn’t miss something by not having the illustrations in front of them?

One idea that I conveyed early is that we should make it like Orson Welles’ 1938 The War of the Worlds radio program. If you listen to that, it’s so captivating. Adding the sound effects, subtle as they are, offered Zombies an auditory experience that borders on cinematic. I loved Marty the dog’s barking in a chilling scene toward the end—it goes right through you as a listener.

Would you consider it a faithful adaptation?

Yes, it’s a word-for-word translation, except, of course, for the new material I added to enhance it. But it’s more, it’s its own thing too, which is nice. I love that the story can live in an either visual or auditory world.

What did you think of narrator Stephen R. Thorne?

When AudioGO told me who was narrating, I went and listened to some of his sample works like the Richard Stark Parker novels and John Dies at the End. Stephen’s voice is strong, clear, and deliberate, which is exactly what the character of Dr. Robert Twombly needs. And there is a subtle vulnerability to Stephen’s voice in certain scenes, which also is instrumental in characterizing Twombly. Because Twombly’s human, and though he’s trying to look at this terrible thing through scientific eyes, he can’t help that it effects him emotionally, especially when he begins losing people close to him. Stephen Thorne did a marvelous job conveying all that.

Why do you think zombies are so appealing and interesting to our culture today?

It’s not hard, really. Zombies personify chaos and death. People want to know that they can defend against the unknown and death, two of humanity’s strongest fears. In today’s uncertain world, people feel powerless. Zombies are a way for them to cope. It’s also beneficial, too, as people are beginning to store supplies for disaster preparedness. Always a good thing to have several jars of canned peaches, fresh drinking water, and some candlesaround. There are also people stockpiling munitions like it’s World War III, but that all seems a little dangerous and scary to me. A little prudence is always good; going to the extreme of anything isn’t so much.

Thank you, once again, to AudioGo and Don Roff!