Book Review: Game Changers of the Apocalypse by Mark Kirkbride


Back of the Book Summary:

It’s always the end of the world when you break up with someone. This time it really is…

Everyone on the planet has mysteriously disappeared, leaving exes Greg and Polly. They’ve survived the apocalypse, yet shouldn’t have. Battling each other and a malevolent entity that teases them with their fate, how long can they remain ahead? Even more terrifying than everyone else on the planet disappearing is what’s about to take their place…

3 Star Review:

Game Changers of the Apocalypse is a fun chase through the apocalypse. Interesting and bizarre twists keep the reader engaged, but there were some problems with character development and pacing that kept this book from reaching its full potential.

Greg is a solid protagonist. He’s thrown into impossible situations and proves to be an intelligent and resourceful asset. Too bad his girlfriend Polly is so annoying. Greg is the driving force within the relationship and constantly does all the heavy lifting to keep them alive while the world falls apart.

Polly is one of my major problems with this book. I love a strong heroine, with intelligence, independence and grit. She possesses none of these skills. Polly complains. A lot. And she’s highly emotional and irrational. They’re in the middle of the apocalypse and she puts their lives in danger due to her anger over Greg’s commitment issues. There’s a scene where Greg crashes their car into a jewelry store while zombies are chasing them. Now, you’d think the next move would be to find another mode of transportation and get out of harm’s way. That’s Greg’s plan. What does Polly do? She throws a hissy fit and walks down into the subway to wait for a train. Yup, she goes underground where there’s no exits.

Because she’s angry that Greg didn’t realize how upset she’d be that he crashed into a jewelry store.

Where they sell wedding rings.

Because she wants to get married and decides that moment is the best to bring it up.

As a female reader, I despised Polly and how impractical she was in basically every scenario. It is frustrating to see a female portrayed as the “damsel in distress”, especially in today’s social climate. I wanted to see her kicking zombie butt, coming up with a plan, taking control. But that was all Greg’s doing. She just huffed and puffed and complained. By the end, I was routing for her death.

But let’s talk plot. It isn’t a cookie cutter end of the world story. There are zombies, but these aren’t your typical zombies and that was a pleasant surprise. There are so many clever twists within this story. Some seem a little far-fetched, but I didn’t mind stretching the boundaries of my imagination. It has religious overtones, but it wasn’t preachy or overtly religious. The ideas of the book mixed horror and religion in a way that they balanced each other in a way I found intriguing. There’s questions about death, the afterlife, and free will all bundled together while Greg and Polly run for their lives.

But there is a lot of running. So much running. Too much.

Let me break it down by parts.

Part one set an eerie story world where only Greg and Polly survived the apocalypse. We don’t know why they were selected to live, or if it were some mistake that they outwitted death, but they are desolate and alone. Some of this part was realistic while other times I struggled to believe their actions. They didn’t do a whole lot of searching for other survivors, having accepted rather quickly that they were the only two left on the Earth.

And then there’s the ear on the building.

And a security camera that seems to follow their movements.

These are the first hints that something is amiss, but the big problem with this novel is pacing and “action / reaction structure”. When we discover that an ear – and actual human ear – is growing from a building, we expect answers. We’re not given any. The very next chapter is a time jump and Greg and Polly keep living life as if the ear never existed. I feel that was a missed opportunity to keep the tension growing.

Part Two is the zombie phase, which is high action from chapter to chapter. They’re running all over London with little hope of escape. Frankly, it becomes redundant and while I was engaged in the first few chapters of this portion, I realized quickly that Greg and Polly were only going to be doing the exact same thing but in different locations. Run to a new place, zombies attack, run new place, zombies attack…Except for the few whining fits of Polly, which seem entirely inappropriate, this part was redundant. I started skimming.

Part Three and Part Four tie up the book, so I won’t give those away, but the ebb and flow aren’t much better in these sections. And there was a part at the end that I was thoroughly confused about because it was completely skipped over.

But the concept of this book was cool. So many cool ideas laid within these pages that even though I had issues with the structure of the story and Polly as a female lead, I still found myself enjoying the story world created. Give it a try and let me know what you think. 3 stars.