Choose Your Doom: Zombie Apocalypse

Friday, November 12, 2010
By Phil Elmore

League Entertainment‘s latest offering in the realm of innovative fiction is Choose Your Doom: Zombie Apocalypse.  Co-authored by Deanna Knippling and “Dante Savelli,” the novel is a deliberate parody and homage to the Choose Your Own Adventure genre that became popular in the 1980s.  The beauty of this particular parody, however, is that it is also a credible entry in the very genre it sends up.

The writing style and tone of the novel are light-hearted and deliberately evocative of the interactive books I remember so well.  As a young teenager, I was an absolute fiend for those titles; I remember fondly the Time Machine series in which readers walked among dinosaurs and samurai warriors, the Choose Your Own Adventure books (I particularly liked one about a “supercomputer” that achieves artificial intelligence and befriends is owner), and the Zork fantasy “what-do-I-do-now” tales.  At a time when “interactive” computer games were simply text on a screen, such books offered a truly immersive experience to the young reader.

Choose Your Doom: Zombie Apocalypse does this for adults, proving that both the genre itself and this particular offering hold up today despite two and a half decades of cultural and technological evolution. I was hooked from the first pages, immediately drawn into the events in a small town suddenly (and violently) beset by zombies. Also from the first pages, it is obvious this is not a book for children; noses are bitten off and skulls are broken open with grudging but self-aware glee by the book’s characters.

One thing the novel does not do is take itself too seriously, nor should you expect it to be deep literature.  The protagonist grasps the problem more or less from the outset (as do his buddies and girlfriend).  He is comfortable with weapons and with the idea of fighting for his life.  He wastes little time trying to fathom what has happened, instead shrugging and dealing with it as effectively as he can.  In part as guided by you, the reader, he racks up a fairly impressive body count, at least if he makes all the “right” choices.

You can, of course, make “wrong” choices too, which will inevitably lead to your horrible death.  One of the real joys of the choose-an-option genre was always finding out what terrible fates awaited. These were never too upsetting because one could always go back and choose again. Zombie Apocalypse gives you more than one opportunity to become a zombie, exploring the ethics of being an infectious monster with an insatiable hunger for delicious human brains.

Preorder Choose Your Doom: Zombie Apocalypse from League Entertainment’s store, TheMetaGeek, and get 15% off! The novel officially releases one week from today.

Zombie purists will want to know that the zombies in this book are not traditional Romero-style zombies.  Because these are creatures created and made contagious by a kind of fungal infection, their defining characteristics offer Knippling and Savelli considerably more leeway to craft the branching storylines.  The unknown nature of the infection also keeps the reader guessing and allows the zombies (as well as you, when zombified as the protagonist) to be more communicative (not to mention dangerous).

As an ardent fan of zombie-related entertainment, I have pretty firm opinions concerning how zombies should act and be. I nevertheless enjoyed this novel immensely.  Choose Your Doom: Zombie Apocalypse is funny, fun, absorbing, and exciting. Its a fast read that treats the genre with respect while also poking it with a stick.  I cannot think of a better holiday gift for the zombie fan in your family… or for the zombie in all of us.

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