Remember those ‘choose your own adventure’ books which used to be hugely popular? Many a wasted hour was spent back in the day, working my way through the stories… getting killed, going back a few pages, taking another option until I’d finally been through all the alternatives and fought my way to the finish. It seems the popularity of these books declined proportionally alongside the rise of the Internet, and they do feel dated now, but they’re still a lot of fun.
Now someone’s had the bright idea of setting a choose your own adventure book in the world of the zombie apocalypse, and that someone is Max Brallier. Max, coincidentally, works for Thomas Dunne Books (my US publisher), and my editor, Brendan Deneen, hooked us up just before Max’s book – the superbly titled Can You Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? – was released. I approached reading it with trepidation, knowing that ideas like this usually only go one of two ways: they’re either superb or awful. Fortunately for all concerned, this book is a blast.
Once you start reading CYStZA?, you’ll be hooked. Max has crowbarred in a huge number of zombie scenarios – some cliched, some hilarious, some downright bizarre – and there are a vast number of wildly different potential outcomes. I mentioned working my way backwards through ‘choose your own adventure’ books when I was younger. With this book I found myself ferociously flicking back and forth through the pages, not wanting to miss anything. From gangsters to baseball, zoos to sewers, George Lucas to George Romero, CYStZA has pretty much everything you could imagine coming across in Manhattan when the dead rise.
I took the opportunity to ask Max about the book, and also about his bizarre novella VATICAN ASSASSIN WARLOCK – co-written with Brendan and inspired by the recent exploits of Charlie Sheen…