There are a few things to keep in mind when reading this review. First of all, I usually hate zombie stories. I just don’t get them. The whole coming back to life to eat the living thing is patently stupid (imho). Not to mention scientifically preposterous. Secondly, I’m not a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories. They are just too damn depressing and dreary for my tastes. And, finally, I have a low tolerance for blood, guts, gore, and violence–the ick factor. Well, I used to anyway…
I listened to the podcast version of Dead Mech and bought the ebook version because Jake is a friend. I’ll try anything at least once and twice if a friend is involved. Reading and listening were both wonderful experiences but for different reasons. I highly recommend both.
This novel is unique in that it is the first drabble novel. A drabble is a piece of flash fiction that is exactly 100 words. Not 99. Not 101. I tried my hand at this form of writing last year and wrote about the process here. It was a very good experience for me, but not something I plan on repeating anytime soon. Jake wrote this story one drabble at a time. Each one is a complete thought, often a scene, sometimes a part of a scene. But, each is a perfect drabble. This alone astonishes me and made the read very enjoyable. Because of the nature of a drabble the writing is tight and precise.Jake is a natural storyteller and hearing the book read by him was a joy. Dead Mech was his first podcasting experience and he learned and improved as he went; but it is good from the very first episode and only gets better.For me, the thing that is the biggest determining factor in whether or not I like a story isn’t the plot, or the genre, or the setting…it’s the characters. If the writer can bring the characters to life and make me care about them, I’ll follow them damn near anywhere. Jake does that beautifully here. The story lines are all good and tightly interwoven. But, the characters are real and memorable. I was surprised to realize when listening to his Q & A episode afterwards that he never gave full descriptions to any of the characters. Yet, even now, I still see them all clearly in my mind. And somehow I know the Rookie has blue eyes. Trust me on that.
Remember the objections I listed at the beginning of this: zombies, post-apocalyptic, and the ick factor? Well, this is about giant mechanized war machines in a post-apocalyptic world where not only are there zombies, but the mechs themselves become zombies…throw in some cannibalism and cage fighting and well, there you have it. Even with all of that, I absolutely LOVED this book. That’s how wonderful the characters are and how fine a job Jake did with the writing.There were moment when I laughed till I cried; others where I just cried. I finally get zombie stories–it’s NOT about the zombies. The zombies are just the obstacle for the heroes to conquer.
This book is available in free podcast format at Podiobooks.com and in paperback and ebook versions at all the typical retailers. Jake is currently podcasting a second novel that happens at the same time as Dead Mech, a sidequel as it were… That Jakey, he’s always gotta be different…
B & N