Fools’ Apocalypse took me by surprise. What started out as, I thought, a techno-thriller concerned with an anarchic leader and his followers targeting the United States in a series of terrorist attacks on infrastructure turned into a zombie story, and a good zombie story at that. The undead, or ‘puppets’ have been spawned by the terrorist attacks, but how? And can the band of survivors, almost all with their own dark secrets, be resourceful enough to outwit the ‘puppets’ and each other?
Anderson Atlas’s strengths are in creating and developing characters. Each character is an individual, with strengths, weaknesses, and motivations that help to make them believable, and each are facing the terrible consequences of choices they made. The plot moves along at a good pace, once the introductory chapters are done; these are a bit slower, as we are meeting characters and learning their roles in the action, but as this is the first book in a planned series, the slower start is understandable. The writing is for the most part competent, although I found a few lines awkward or ineffective in conveying the emotion of the character.
What struck me about Fools’ Apocalypse is that Anderson Atlas has taken two of the great themes of American writing: the river journey, and the band-of-travelers-against-the-wild, and used them to give new life to the zombie apocalypse. Combined with a back story about a mysterious religious relic, and the characters’ growing realization of the effects of their individual actions, the story seemed remarkably fresh, not just another version of The Walking Dead. The illustrations, done in black-and-white, were an unusual but attractive addition.
All in all, I’m giving Fools’ Apocalypse four stars; it gave me several hours of reading enjoyment and left me wanting more.