on 8 January 2016
I love zombies books (as you may have noticed), so when I heard about this one I thought I just had to give it a read. Geldof is a 15 year old Vegan boy, embarrassed by his hippy parents. If they aren't screaming at the neighbors for their murder and consumption of flesh(animals of course), forcing him to be a Vegan and wearing God awful natural fiber clothes his mum is bartering for food in the shop with vegetables. What follows is an unlikely team against the zombie animals. Something goes wrong at the abattoir, a weird plague amongst the cows gets out and spreads among domestic animals and soon everyone in Glasgow (and Britain) is at risk of being humped, mauled and or eaten.
This book is hilarious, disgusting and so UN PC - it has everything rolled into one story. The nerdy boy with the crush on the teacher, the hippy parents, the teenage bullies that need to be addressed or obeyed and of course the threat of being killed by rabid flesh eating animals from cows to rats.
Some of the brutality to the animals is a bit uncomfortable reading (in any kind of context) but taking the book as it is with silliness you can get through it, after all it the small matter of survival. This is my first encounter with this author and I would read him again, I also secretly (not so secret now) hope there is a follow up to this book. Will Geldof survive? Does he get the woman of his dreams and be the hero at the end? Well you have to read it and find out for yourselves folks, 4/5 for me this time.
From the corny pun-title and blurb, we all know pretty well what to expect with this book and you certainly won't be disappointed. As Shaun of the Dead style comedies go, Apocalypse Cow is a bloody jagged slash above the rest. The first real belly laugh was the hilarious (albeit slightly bad taste) Heather Mills gag in chapter two and author Michael Logan just keeps those genuinely funny scenes coming, punctuated by elements of wince-making gore, some truly caustic satire and the occasional profound and even moving moment. Yes, incongruous though it sounds, I did say moving! There's a brief conversation on page 181 that suddenly cuts through all the gore and farce and left me almost with a tear in my eye. That was clever - hitting the reader with a sucker punch when they're least suspecting! The characters owe a lot to Tom Sharpe-style gross caricatures and those of you who loved the Wilt series or the Great Pursuit are sure to enjoy this. The author's use of simile was particularly inventive and amusing - I especially enjoyed a couple of errant pubic hairs being compared to the antennae of a Madagascar hissing cockroach!
Only criticisms? Well one of the characters - David, just felt a bit wrong - like little more than a cheap foil to launch a few more gags, and when the book morphs into a semi-serious road movie, some of the action simply doesn't feel believable. In fact, it's probably fair to say that the story peaks a bit too soon, with the first half being more enjoyable.
No big deal though. Overall, Apocalypse Cow is a very entertaining slant on the survivalist genre and it would make a rattling good black comedy movie.
If you like a little gross diversion and more than a few belly-laughs, Apocalypse Cow is highly recommended!
Michael Logan's Apocalypse Cow has won some award or other but that is not the reason you should read it. You should it because it is an original irreverent and hugely entertaining spin on the rather saturated zombie market with a slight edge of social satire thrown in for good measure.
Terry works in an abattoir in Glasgow and thinks he stinks of rotting meat , which is proving a bit of a drawback in social situations . However animated rotting meat is soon more of a concern for Terry when cows at the abattoir refuse to die after been slaughtered and seem intent on pursuing a non vegetarian diet themselves. As do many other species of animal ......but not birds...hmmmmm.
Meanwhile randy teenager Geldoff , whose parents consist of a vegan slogan spouting nude round the house mother and permanently stoned father , who insist in indulging in elongated and noisy sessions of tantric sex, is about to get brought into the mix due to their neighbour - Terry's unhinged cousin, his wife Mary and their brutish teenage sons . Then there is Lesley , an incompetent reporter for the Glasgow Tribune who due to picking another reporters phone call has stumbled onto the biggest story in British history involving lots of the nefarious stuff that Governments tend to get up to.
Apocalypse Cow is , lets be honest a touch silly , but therein lies part of it's appeal .The author manages to convey a serious message about Government cynicism , immorality and incompetence but do so through believable characters and acerbic dialogue rather than po -faced posturing and sheer relentless horror. Though there are elements of that in the book as well. The horror that is, not the po-faced posturing .The humour is drawn form the things people say and do when under extreme duress .There is even a Monty Python type exchange near the books end which is just terrifically comic.
I have deliberately kept my review obtuse so as not to give too much away( though you could probably hazard a good guess ) I recommend reading this book not just to find out what actually occurs but because while doing so you will ,in all likelihood have a jolly good time. Having Britain quarantined and threatened with carpet bombing by the French has never been so much fun.
I read a lot of political and economic non fiction but sometimes I get the yen to read something totally off the wall, insane, crazy, fantastic - so what better than a book that was the joint winner of the inaugural Terry Pratchett 'Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now' Prize.
The basic theme is that an epidemic (government caused) infects Britain's domestic animals (including pets and wild animals - except birds) transforming them into sneezing, slobbering, grunting flesh-craving four legged zombies intent on attacking and eating anything in front of them - especially us!
Sounds like fantasy, it is, but author Michael Logan puts it across in an almost believable way making you not only think that this could happen but laugh out loud, in places this book is genuinely funny and actually had me snorting with laughter at about 2am in the morning much to the annoyment of my wife. There is one page that describes some smarmy, oily government minister on live TV cooking a bar-b- que for his wife and kids to prove meat is still safe to eat that is worth the price of the book on it's own. Will also make you look at little Patch and your pet moggie in a new light!
However the beauty of this book for me are the three main characters who are developed in a masterful way throughout the story.
Geldof the 16 year old son of a pair of hippie vegans, bullied and known as "Scabby" at school because of his constant itching due to being forced to wear clothes made of hemp because his mum had a deal to get them cheap.
Terry who worked in the abattoir where the outbreak began and survived only by luck and who blames his lack of success with the opposite sex on the constant smell of death, blood and guts that seems to cling to his body 24/7.
Finally. Lesley, a junior journalist on a Glasgow paper who has been told she is not cutting it and is about to be made redundant. She thinks she has got 'lucky' when she intercepts a message/tip off meant for her boss.
Can these three losers pool their resources, overcome overwhelming odds, unlock a cure with a renegade government scientist and save the world? Or are we totally screwed?
The story moves along at a good pace, never flags and keeps you turning the 350 odd pages until the end, the end of the world as we know it, or is it not the end? The prose is snappy, cool and with just the right amount of cynicism and some very funny situations and passages. This book seems to be getting rave reviews wherever it is mentioned and it deserves every one of them. You do not have to be a fan of 'The Walking Dead' or other zombie films/books to enjoy 'Apocalypse Cow', it is five star originality, five star creativity and five star reading.
David Logan is a Scot, a journalist who has lived in such diverse places as Bosnia, Hungary, Switzerland and Kenya and has reported on riots, refugee camps, Somali pirates and other turbulent affairs. He is 30 and 'Apocalypse Cow' is his first novel. I look forward to more.
on 10 September 2015
I love Logan's writing style, which is very reminiscent of Pratchett's and easy to get lost in. The concept is funny too (though more a Christmas cracker joke groan than laugh out loud, for me) - an original take on the done-to-death topic of zombies, which works very well. My only criticism is that there's not much of a plot here - the story is so simple and predictable that it almost slips past you. The fact that this book was still very entertaining and enjoyable despite such a simple story is testament to Logan's excellent character development.
on 12 July 2012
A visceral and highly disturbing slice of comic horror - about as black as you can get. The UK is brought to a standstill after a top-secret lab in Scotland unwittingly unleashes an animal-infecting 'zombie virus' into an unsuspecting society. A motley band of survivors attempt to flee to France, and their journey is documented in all its foul, dysfunctional glory.
The book's title gives a good indication of the targeted readership, and the various human sex scenes, inverse bestiality, and macabre killings make this a fun if utterly wrong read.
on 21 May 2012
I am not usually a fan of zombie fiction (I am certainly not a fan of cross-genre zombie fiction, e.g. Pride and Prej' with Zombies). However, this book is one of the funniest I have read in a long while. In essence, had `28 Days Later' and `Shawn of the Dead' gotten together on a drunken one night stand this would their bastard child! (Yet it is not limited to these two movies and draws on other zombie movie tropes.) It is at times hilarious and horrifying - not one for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.
Gruesome and at times very violent it is also compelling, the writer uses that best of horror principles, that less is more. Some of the scenes from the novel are truly horrific (a male character is first assaulted* and then eaten by a raging bull being one of the worst) yet the writing and description is minimal - our minds fill in the gaps left by the author. (Like the film `Psycho' we see the knife descend, we see the blood flowing down the drain, we see the scream - what we do not see is the knife penetrate the flesh, our mind fills in that part for us.)
Yet it is also hilarious. Like `Shawn of the Dead' it takes the zombie genre and urban life and twist it ever so slightly so that it goes from mundane to wry/ amusing. It is, at times, laugh our loud and the humour/ horror are allowed to complement each other.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
* Think reverse bestiality.
on 25 July 2012
First of all I will say that I have a phobia of cows, so add that in to the fact that this book has zombie cows on the rampage through the whole of Britain and you do in fact have my worst nightmare!
The book starts off with sneezing cows at an abattoir. Caught up in a virulent epidemic they attack the abattoir workers and start eating them- only it doesn't stop there. Despite the government's best efforts to torch the place and cover up the evidence, one lone cow escapes and pretty soon it isn't just the cows that are sneezing, slavering zombies...
I have to say that I'm not usually a massive fan of horror books, but this was a novel that I really enjoyed and kept me turning the pages. It is written in a very witty way with some cracking one-liners but also some laugh out loud dialogue. With some gory scenes, explosive action and a road trip thrown in for good measure, the pace is steady and the plot varied enough to keep the reader interested.
The character development isn't extensive in this novel, but then again in this genre I often find this is the case and the focus is more on the action. You don't really get to know many of the characters on more than a superficial level, though I did like eczema suffering teen Geldof and Terry. Terry I think, was the only character who really seemed to change throughout the progression of the story.
I think if you enjoy horror comedy films like `Shaun of the Dead' or `Black Sheep' then you will appreciate this book. Should there be a sequel (it has been left open for one) then I would most definitely like to read it.
Initially a solitary cow, but then whole herds followed by all the other wildlife in the UK are infected with a virus which makes them want to mate and kill, basically in that order. Sounds improbable? Well, that is the whole idea. The author does a great job in creating a wholly ludicrous scenario, which is the object of the exercise. It is no exaggeration to say that Apocalypse Cow is in the proud tradition of the masters of this genre such as Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Tom Sharpe.
The choice of main characters is an essential ingredient if this sort of story is to work, and here the main players are thrown together and prove to be a bizarre, ineffective and unlikely group. As it says on the back cover, can these people sort things out? Yup, we're screwed......... Geldof is the teenage offspring of a couple of hippyish, dope smoking, love making parents. Lesley is a somewhat inept journalist who chances on the truth and manages to make a complete hash of it. Finally Terry, who is an abattoir worker and who survives the first terrible attack of the homicidal, sex crazed ruminants.
This tale does get a life of its own after a while, and ceases to be a collection of clever gags, as the trio find each other and, one hesitates to say make progress, but rather more are carried along by events. I did wonder how Michael Logan was going to wrap this one up, but in the end he does so rather elegantly I thought. It is hard enough to produce a page or two of witty narrative, and certainly quite an achievement to keep it going for 350 pages. This really is an enjoyable romp and one where the reader needs to suspend disbelief and go with the flow.
If Apocalypse Cow were a film it would be a low budget B-movie.
The plot can almost be discerned from the title, and certainly when you read the blurb on the back, you've pretty much got the whole story, biological warfare virus which turns cows (and other animals) into sex-crazed killers escapes from laboratory. Cast of disparate losers seek to survive the attacks of both the animals and the authorities seeking to cover up the disaster.
The three main characters are an unsuccessful journalist, Lesley, a disillusioned abattoir worker, Terry and hormonally challenged geeky teenager Geldof.
It is a book in which the body count is high, the humour painted (initially at least) with a very broad brush and the whole thing is splattered with a considerable amount of gore.
Early on I didn't really think I'd like the book, the characterisation, particularly of Geldof's mother, seeming to be rather lazily stereotyped.
However, by the end of things I found myself to be somewhat charmed by the whole thing. The humour while at times unsubtle, is definitely British humour of inadequacy and sexual frustration, rather than being coarser American Frat-boy style. You could see this being made into a low budget exploitation flick, but its vice is violence and gore rather than sexual. The central love story is rather sweet, and while the two protagonists do "get it on" it is not in the least leery or boorish.
Also, the blurb refers to Terry Pratchett snorting with laughter. I found that spot on, there are sufficient good one liners to provoke exactly that reaction. I won't spoil any by repeating them here.
If you want a quick overall feel, while Shaun of the Dead is an obvious reference point, for me it's more as if Ben Elton had written an Adrian Mole Zombie story.
So, while this is no great literary shakes, it is a piece of high concept, tongue in cheek genre fiction, very efficiently executed.
If you fancy the idea of a humorous novel about zombie animals, and are not averse to a bit of gore, I can recommend this as a light holiday read.