Martin Stone, a popular radio shock jock, and his whole crew are one of the lucky few who have survived the zombie apocalypse. They’ve continued the show in the compound they’re holed up in, providing help to fellow survivors and working to keep their morale up. Martin brings on guests who are working to find a remedy for the zombies and who are working to protect the people who have survived. Meanwhile, the undead run rampant outside and several who have no desire to see it stopped are interfering with the efforts of the doctors and military men.
“Dave: Things are pretty quiet outside the compound, but deeper in the city…I see dead people. Lots and lots of dead people.
Soundbyte: Canned laughter.”
WZMB is presented as a series of transcripts of taped shows. Martin Stone is a pretty clear stand-in for Howard Stern. The book is even dedicated to Howard and all of his crew. Even while I read this, I imagined the voices of Stern and Robin saying the words. While you don’t need to be a fan of Howard Stern to enjoy this book, it probably helps.
Given the concept, Howard Stern broadcasting during the zombie apocalypse, one would think this would be a more comedic book. While there are moments of comedy, albeit rather dark at times, it takes the concept mostly seriously.
“Martin: Here they are, folks; your top five songs…Number five.
Soundbyte: A wayward zombie wails in a dry rasp.”
Martin, being a shock jock, tries to treat the apocalypse with irreverence, but the reality of it keeps hitting him in the face. He’s concerned with the well-being of his wife and all of his friends. The stories of people dying by the hundreds and the close encounters with death from his callers keep him from being the funny guy he always used to be.
“Martin: What did I say? I was so fucked in the head over Karen’s trying to run away that I don’t even remember.
Raven: You were talking about giving up. (imitating Martin) I’m such a shitty husband. Maybe Karen would be better off without me. All I do is bring her down. Maybe I should stop doing the show and disappear. Who are we even broadcasting too anymore? Everybody knows there’s nobody left.”
The book is heavily focused on the relationship between Martin, his family, and his crew. How Martin maintains his dynamic with his sidekick Raven under the pressure of everything happening strikes me as incredibly realistic.
Some may find the transcript format annoying, but I found it an engaging way to tell the story. It forced the vast majority of the book to be driven by dialogue, a refreshing change given how focused on atmosphere and action the zombie genre is. The problem is it doesn’t use it to its fullest effect during the climax. Towards the end of the book, most of the action is told through security camera footage descriptions with Martin and crew running through their compound. I can’t deny it was a fun to read climax, but if you’ve read a zombie book, you’ve seen scenes like these before.
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