Brandon Zenner is an American fiction writer and an Amazon best selling author. His short fiction has been published in both print and online publications, the first being submitted when he was 19 years old. THE EXPERIMENT OF DREAMS, his debut thriller, has reached Amazon's best seller list many times. His second novel, WHISKEY DEVILS, was a first place winner in the American Book Fest's Best Book Awards. THE AFTER WAR, a post-apocalyptic thriller, was a semi-finalist in the BookLife Prize in Fiction, a contest run by Publishers Weekly, a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Award, and a finalist in the Red City Review Book Award, among other distinctions. His genre of choice are thrillers, crime, dystopian, science fiction, and anything with a psychological edge.
“This twisty thriller sows the seeds of an engrossing dystopian saga.”
– Kirkus Reviews
In a post-apocalyptic world, some stragglers must find out what they are made of in this series opener.
When Brian Rhodes and his cousin Steven Driscoll emerge from their hiding place, it’s been two years since a deadly virus spread across the globe, eradicating most of the inhabitants. Brian and Steven are two of the lucky ones. Their uncle, a high-ranking American government official named Lt. Gen. Albert Driscoll, built them a bunker deep in the South and gave them instructions to reunite with Steven’s sister, Bethany, then journey to an agreed-upon location. In British Columbia, Simon Kalispell is working with a similar plan. The earthy Simon comes from a rich, well-connected family that thought his best bet at survival would be to tough it out in a remote cabin and reunite with the clan later. Each survivor is heading east, where, unbeknown to them, Albert has attempted to create some semblance of a government. But as any good dystopian narrative knows, where there’s weakness, there’s division. While Albert and his men try to restore peace, others believe they require increased militarization to mobilize against the outside world, full of haphazard gangs, cannibals, and sadists struggling to survive. These are the conditions Brian, Steven, and Simon meet as they struggle to make it across country, and their survival depends on making the right choices. Zenner (Whiskey Devils, 2016, etc.) skillfully shows how desperate conditions can force good people to do bad things, and bad people to do even worse deeds. But while Brian, Steven, and Simon are all richly shaded, the secondary characters are not as fully developed. Along the way, Brian collects Bethany and a female friend. The women are vague in characterization (tough and capable in one moment; weepy or shy the next), which leaves their subsequent romantic arcs seeming obligatory and one-dimensional. This kind of indistinct worldbuilding plagues an otherwise promising novel about the limits of humanity in trying times. With more books planned for the series, this may yet be corrected.
This twisty thriller sows the seeds of an engrossing dystopian saga.
Pub Date: June 30, 2017
Page count: 444pp
Publisher: Time Tunnel Media
Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2018
New Jersey bartender and author Zenner combines corporate deceit, futuristic technology, and sleep science into a rousing debut.
Heartbroken from the recent loss of his beloved wife, Emily, Baltimore bartender Ben Walker jumps at any chance to participate in the kinds of sleep studies that have helped keep him financially afloat for years. Bored with his life, he frequently finds himself “drinking to oblivion”—a routine interrupted by a tip from a dream scientist about a lucrative, revolutionary project for which he believes Ben, who in past tests has exhibited extraordinary subconscious “control and vividness,” would be perfect. This new lucid-dream sleep study is based in the Hamptons and has been commissioned by eccentric multimillionaire Dr. Timothy Kalispell. The study utilizes a machine nicknamed “Lucy” (for Lucid Transmitter), which reads and records images created during the sleep cycle. Initially, Ben exhibits promising results while doctors view his subconscious “sleep art” imagery as he flies through his mind’s dreamscapes. The project is soon taken on the road to Paris and Rome to incorporate dreams dreamt after seeing art masterpieces, yet even after some overdue spicy romance with beautiful stranger Sophia, things begin to spiral downward. Ben becomes plagued with migraine headaches as Dr. Kalispell unveils his newest technology, the “Vitruvian Machine,” capable of bringing dreamed images to life. Of course, big-business ethics and profit lie behind the grand design, and once the team enlists Ben as a full-time employee, his sketchy dreams of a place called Drapery Falls put him in grave danger. When the lines between what is dreamed and what is real begin to blur, the medical team behind the project shows its contemptible colors. Zenner crafts a well-paced thriller powered by a lively, gutsy protagonist and durable supporting characters nefarious and romantic. Kalispell is a formidable villain, yet Zenner is cleverly careful not to reveal his true nature until the plot is well underway. Fans of reality-bending sci-fi medical thrillers will find much to savor in this futuristic thrill ride with a bloody denouement.
A creative, sharply drawn thriller anchored by sturdy prose and a memorable hero.
Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2014
Page count: 274pp
Review Posted Online: March 9, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015
The After War Book Trailer
Fair Haven, NJ
So many ... John Fante, E.L. Doctorow, Cormac McCarthy, Charles Bukowski, Tom Robbins, Iain Banks, Ken Follett ... I can go on and on.
Again, so many ... Homer & Langley, Blood Meridian, The Wasp Factory, Pillars of the Earth
Writer. Bartender. Father.
Changes often, but currently I've been liking "Candescent."
Unexpected skill or talent
I make model ships. Check out my instagram, I just started posting pictures: @brandonzen
Passion in life
Above all, my daughter and wife. Writing comes in secoond. Music is pretty important too.
THE AFTER WAR: Finalist in the Best Book Awards for best Thriller & Adventure., 2018
THE AFTER WAR: First Horizon Award, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, 2017
THE AFTER WAR: Silver Medal, The Wishing Shelf Book Award, Best Adult Fiction, 2017
THE AFTER WAR: Semi-Finalist BookLife Prize in Fiction, by Publishers Weekly, 2016
THE AFTER WAR: Finalist in the Red City Review Book Awards, for Best Literary Fiction, 2016
Whiskey Devils: First Place in the Best Book Awards for Best Novella, 2018AMA: Ask Me Anything, 2018 Author Brandon Zenner's Second Novel, "Whiskey Devils," Nominated for a Global Ebook Award, 2016 Debut Author Brandon Zenner Releases New Psychological Thriller: "The Experiment of Dreams", 2014 Red Bank: Author Emerges From the Cellar, 2014
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