Seventeen-year-old Michael tries to shepherd his autistic 5-year-old half brother Patrick through a very real zombie apocalypse by pretending it’s just a video game.
Twenty-one days ago, Michael decided he’d had enough of his abusive stepfather, Ron. The final straw: Ron was planning to send Patrick to a mental hospital, so Michael packed Patrick a backpack, told him they were about to play a great adventure game controlled by the “Game Master” and ran for the car in the middle of the night. Unfortunately for them and the rest of the world, brain-seeking zombies attacked that very night. Using the “rules” of the game delivered by the Game Master, video-game–loving Michael keeps the two of them safe as they avoid the Bellows (zombies who echo parts of words they hear in bellowing voices) until they encounter the Rapture, a religious cult at zombie-plagued ground zero that worships the living dead. Escaping their insane clutches, the boys find the Charleston, W.V., Safe Zone…but few survivors remain. Can they trust Capt. Jopek, the lone military man? Is there any real safety in the new, awful world? Martin’s debut is a lethargic zombie thriller that buries a few interesting ideas in tortured syntax and repetitious narration. It regularly abandons the logic it painstakingly sets up as well as basic reality in service of advancing the plot.
Even die-hard zombie fans will be hoping for an end to this game far sooner than it comes. (Horror. 14 & up)