Saturday, November 10, 2012

Review: "Apocalypse Cow" by Michael Logan

While I enjoyed the book, I find myself a little disappointed with Michael Logan’s magnificently titled “Apocalypse Cow” (Doubleday).

Maybe my expectations were too high, but as the winner of an award named after Terry Pratchett and a quote saying that it made him snort with laughter, I expected something funnier.

“Apocalypse Cow” offers a different take on the zombie apocalypse. It throws together abattoir worker Terry Borders, bumbling journalist Lesley McBrien and teenager Geldof Peters. All of the characters bring their own baggage. Terry has some stress issues with his job and believes that his bad luck with women comes from a stench of death that hangs around him from his work. Geldof is the son of a domineering and off-kilter activist who has forced him to follow her lifestyle. Lesley is the daughter of a famous, award-winning journalist, but so far her career has been empty.

Lesley has a chance to change the path of her career when she intercepts a call intended for a colleague that informs her that a recent abattoir fire was not an accident, but rather a government cover-up. The bad news for the government is not just that the word is out, but so is one of the cows infected by a biowarfare virus intended to turn animals against people. The three protagonists are thrown together and have to help each other survive attacks by zombie animals and a government madman who is intent on killing them and recovering the information that Lesley carries.

It’s a setup that lends itself to absurdity, but Logan chooses to play the story fairly straight instead of following the over-the-top premise into the kind of territory it’s begging for. The book is not without humor. I mean, the whole setup is enough to give you a chuckle. But at the same time, I ran into very few laugh-out-loud moments through the course of the book. There’s a very dry approach to the humor as Logan tries to balance it with a story that maintains at least a sense of possibility.

The good thing here is that the story is still quite enjoyable. The characters are likeable and get the reader behind them, and it’s a lively tale. I just really wanted a few more guffaws.

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