Zombacter is a zombie thriller that is based on the idea of a virus escaping a lab that was working on a top secret bio-computer. Basically funded with a blank check, the sky is the limit for for how this project can change the world. Obviously this isn’t the first story that has had a virus escape from a lab but I loved the unique idea of a biological super computer. It simply gives off the sci-fi mad scientist vibe that excites the geek in me.
Premise aside, the story never really took off for me, or really captured my imagination. The events that lead to the virus escape was far too implausible to enjoy. Naturally when reading a book like this one must be willing to set aside expectations of day to day reality but actions and story lines still have to make sense. As mentioned above, we have a highly secret project taking place with a large budget, yet development of this bio computer took place in a seemingly standard lab setting run by a university. Expensive and experimental lab work does indeed happen at universities and off-site labs, but this one oddly lacked the most basic of fail safes and safety protocol’s that exist at your average high school.
For this experiment they were using rats and studying their brains as they worked on linking brain activity into computer function. Something goes wrong and turns a rat into an aggressive monster and slaughters others in a cage. The bodies are flash frozen for an autopsy but a school administrator upset at the failure orders a student lab tech to dispose of the bodies immediately. This student ends up leaving the frozen test rats in his car. Upon arrival somewhere he remembers the bodies and disposes of them in a city dumpster where they of course reanimate upon thawing. Once the zombies begin taking apart humanity someone happens to find a M-16 that has a EMP attachment to it. Miraculously, the person also happens to figure out how to use the EMP to kill zombies.
Unfortunately for Zombacter, the characters seemed just as disjointed as the story itself. The characters began to run together and went through behavior shifts defying development that were just as random as suddenly finding a M16 with a EMP attached. As stated above there is an large expected level of reality that an author can expect their audience to give them but it must be balanced and continue to be earned.
I really wanted to like Zombacter just as I want to like every zombie novel I get my hands on but Zombacter doesn’t deliver on much aside from a whole lot of random violence. I even picked up the book again after a few months and gave it another shot feeling disappointed yet again. There is a lot of good ideas in here, in fact there is enough where I will give the second book in this series a read right when it comes out. The problems inside Zombacter came down to developing ideas and linking them together.
Zombactor is published by Severed Press
A couple thoughts on this one.
From the title, I thought it would be based on a farm, or at least in the country. Zombactor sounds like a portmanteau of “zombie” and “tractor” to me.
Second, a gun with an EMP device on it? That would just completely break my immersion.
Haha, Zombie-Tractor…Dave.. where did you get this idea!?
I guess it’s a bit unfair to judge a book by its title but if I were to add my own 2 cents on the topic – Zombactor sound more like a Zombie who want to become famous in Hollywood, no?
In what concern the EMP gun, I don’t really have a problem with that but I’m a sucker for guns so as long as it’s sounds plausible in the story I’ll be fine with it (unless of course if it’s the Rocket Propelled Chainsaw that was mentioned here a few weeks ago in which case the story must have Chuck Norris in it otherwise it’s a total nonsense).
I could see a zombie actor as well.
The EMP gun just sounds too much like a video game to me. If this were a more sci-fi book, maybe I could buy it.
Thats the issue I had. It broke all immersion too early. There is a reason for the EMP but the timing didn’t work.
Dave I am going to quote you on a writing critique you once gave me. ” It’s like you have a ton to say and want to get it all out in one breath”
That was a good line I had.
It was a good one..it did a great job of easily explaining a massive flaw of mine.
Too bad it sucked.
Zombies controled by a sentient super computer would be so very cool and scary. Maybe we’ll get some in the re-write. lol
It’s definitely an interesting idea.
There is a “super brain” behind the Zombie Apocalypse… the end is a bit blurry to me but I think it was litterally a brain in a jar that had some kind of mind control over the undeads.
Like my dad always told me, never trust a brain in a jar.
So adding that book to the list. Like right now!
Well…it didn’t suck so I want to make sure I point that out. There is a lot of great ideas that didn’t link together right. And he isn’t a bad writer..just needed to slow down and marinate development.
Very important distinction. Another draft or two, and this could be pretty awesome?
Yes, very much so I think.
Can authors really do that? I was joking about a re-write but that may be helpful for some writers. I guess that is what an editor is for but still a re-write later may be helpful.
Sure. Happens all the time. Especially on amazon where you see people get their book pulled and edited. I think you’re just linked to the ISBN.
Thank you for taking the time to review Zombacter. I really appreciated your candid assessment of the novel. I’m also pleased that you are willing to read the second installment in the series! I barely mention the EMP weapon this time. By the way, I have one affixed to my AR-15; it’s the only reason I mentioned it – just kidding, it sits beside my electromagnetic rail gun and Tesla coil (I’m not kidding about those at all).
However, I want to clear up a few things. Zombacter is a fictional bacteria genus and not a virus. Trivial though it seems, it forms the basis for building the biocomputer in the book and the it’s the basis for the one I built in my lab. I agree with you, Zombacter is an unusual title. Now that the haze of my last failed experiment has worn off, I realize that in a fit of pure mad-scientist abandon, I used the Latin naming convention to name my fictional bacteria genus. That would be logical if I were naming real bacteria like Geobacter or Campylobacter but the stuff in this novel is just fiction right, right?
Unfortunately, it sounds like a cheesy Sci-fi movie doesn’t it. Perhaps it should. My original 2004 manuscript was a screenplay written in the style of Stuart Gordon’s Re-animator (NOT a cheesy movie by the way). I decided to make it into a book series last year.
Finally, the lab animals that the good professor used were rabbits (of the Monty Python variety) and not rats. A minor thing really but to me it’s much more absurd to see someone fighting a White, Zombie-rabbit than a rat If you didn’t catch it, that was a nod to my good friend Rob “hey, you left your guitar here last time we jammed” Zombie. He does that all the time. Rob, my nephew wanted me to ask you to sign it.
Anyhow, thank you again for the review. You are doing the rest of us a big favor by reviewing books for us. I’m halfway through the second novel and I’ve kept your input in mind.
Another author swinging by! So cool.
Thanks for stopping by , Sean!
Wanted to give you and your fans an update on Zombacter: Center City Contagion (Movie).
Film will be released November 20, 2020 VOD on Vimeo followed by additional platforms. Trailer should be out by esrly next week.
Check out the IMDB page below:
Evan- I wanted to let you and your fans know that Zombie King of Everything, the second book in the Zombacter Trilogy was released. Let me know if you or one of your readers would like to review it. I really appreciated your honesty with your Zombacter review.