Lee Murray author, editor
Chaos’ latest game is positively epic. Just look at the trailer: the hero Bastion Axestone striding through the city streets, fireballs exploding around him and zombies staggering in his wake. Seb can’t wait to play it. He downloads the works. Explosive effects, 3D upgrade, heavy metal soundtrack and a subliminal quotient—whatever that is.
But the next day, Seb and his friends wake up to an apocalypse. Their teachers are missing in action, coach doesn’t come to practice, and Seb’s dad spends all day in his pyjamas. Even worse, not only has Mum not been in to work, she hasn’t bothered to brush her teeth. It’s beginning to look as if every grown-up in Bridgetown—possibly the entire world—has been zombified. They’re obsessed with their personal electronic devices and it’s all Seb’s fault because he’s the one who downloaded the game in the first place. Now, he has to fix it. But how? It’s not as if he can un-download the game. Along with his best mate, Darren, and Talia, The Prettiest Girl in School, Seb has to figure out how to reverse the effect of the computer virus. But in the meantime, the zombies need feeding, Seb’s little sister, Ava, needs minding, and someone has to walk the dog…
It’s funny, engaging, and well laid out.
The book is also an entertaining adult read. Well done!
"Throwing all cautio to the wind, Seb (short for Sebastion) has downloaded a new game called Chaos, which includes fabulous extras like a 3D upgrade and a ‘subliminal quotient’ which doesn’t mean anything to him, but must be awesome! Best of all, it’s free! The game asks for Seb to name the town he will be fighting zombies in, and so he types in his hometown and leaves the game to download overnight. Next morning his Mum forgets to wake him up and his Dad seems fixated on his phone - only his little sister Ava and their dog seem normal. Seb heads off to school, only to find that the teachers are missing. Gradually Seb and his mates find that most people are obsessed with their phones and devices, and realises that it must be a virus in the game he downloaded. Responsibility time! The ‘zombies’ need to be fed to keep them alive, Ava has been left in her highchair for half the day, has a very full nappy and needs watching every minute, and the dog needs feeding and walking... it’s a disaster! How to fix everything? How on earth do you unfold a pushchair? Can Grandma help? Actually, who is looking after Grandma and the other residents of the rest home? This perfectly pitched book by multi award-winning author Lee Murray would be great for intermediate school aged children. It’s funny, engaging, and well laid out with clear chapter headings, an attractive cover, good sized text, and a glossary snuck in at the end with snippets on people, places and words used in the book, such as Malcolm X, Pythagoras and the words subliminal and virus. The book is also an entertaining adult read. Well done!" -- Bookrapt
Stop? Think. Have you downloaded the zombie apocalypse recently?
That’s the question Seb has to ask himself the morning after he downloads an awesome zombie game, subliminal quotient and all—whatever subliminal quotient means, it’s got to be cool, doesn’t it? Almost as cool as the rest of the special effects. Fireballs, and zombie hands reaching out of the screen. Seb can’t wait to go home and play it.
But Seb’s friends, Darian and Talia, don’t think the game’s cool. They think the weird way the adults are behaving is all his fault. Which is crazy. With no teachers at school, Seb goes home. But there’s no time to play games! His little sister Ava is still smeared with breakfast and trapped in her high chair…maybe his friends are right and this is the zombie apocalypse. Some problem solving needs to be done, and Seb knows he’s just the right person to do it. He can even make bath-time fun for his bath-phobic little sister. (Don’t ask, it’s a disaster. And Cody the dog, does not help). Together, Seb and his friends have to carefully and hilariously figure out what’s wrong and make a plan to fix the zombie plague, but just as it looks like they might be on track, more adults arrive…and that’s when things get really tricky.
This hilarious and charming story is great reading for 8-12. I wish my kids were young so I could read them the adventures of Seb, Cody the dog and little Ava—the cutest bundle of trouble you will ever meet." --SpecFicNZ
"I really enjoyed reading Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse.
At first I was unsure as to what it would be like but once I started, it didn’t take me long to finish it. There was humour and the storyline was not what I expected. From the title I immediately assumed that the book would be about the traditional, dead corpse zombies that we all grow up knowing about but I was pleasantly surprised by the idea of people being zombified by their electronic devices. I think the concept used in the book is relatable to our changing world because technology is playing a massive role in every individual’s life, no matter their age. We use technology everyday at school and home, and we know that our devices can draw us in and ensnare us until we are spending countless hours on them. The storyline shows the readers that technology can be harmful but you can be cured by going outside and getting some fresh air and sunshine so it teaches a lesson also. Although I enjoyed the book, I do not think that it is a book I personally would have picked up whilst browsing the library as I feel that it is perhaps aimed at a younger audience. I do not think that the book would be popular amongst teenage girls but would be perfect for tween boys, around the ages of 11 or 12 who could relate to the main character, Sebastian and his life. It was lighthearted and easy to read so I think it would be preferred by a younger audience. I also liked how the book was not like other New Zealand books as it felt like it could be set anywhere. There were not very many ‘kiwi’ references so that readers from other countries can understand/relate to the story as well. Personally, I prefer this style of writing, where it is not obvious that a book is set in a particular place. " -- Sukhleen
A family-friendly story!
"This highly amusing story is suitable for younger readers because the zombies are dependent on electronics and not human brains! A computer virus, unwittingly unleashed by Seb, ‘zombifies’ most of the town. Seb, his best mate, Darren, and Talia, The Prettiest Girl in School, are among the few left unaffected, so it’s up to them to find a cure. Seb thoughtfully takes on the added responsibility of his little sister, Ava, and Cody, the family dog. Seb demonstrates his caring nature, although his methods are somewhat unconventional, and hilarious. Together the teenage trio face the challenge of looking after their zombie family members who are so engrossed in their devices, they are oblivious to what’s happening around them. There’s plenty of mayhem, antics, and unusual problem-solving as the teenagers seek answers. Written through Seb’s point of view, the language is easy to follow, and includes lots of banter between the friends. There’s plenty of scenarios to interest tweens, like school with no teachers! A family-friendly story about screen addiction told in a non-judgemental fashion that will appeal to young readers and delight adults." --Flaxflower Reviews
"Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse, even the name sounds captivating!
This is a hilarious tale of adventure and misfortune, not to mention the troubles of babysitting! It follows the story of a young boy who accidentally turns all the parents in his town to zombies. Trying to change them back proves to be a perilous mission, but trying to take care of his little sister is even tougher! I really liked the way this put the idea of a zombie apocalypse into the context of ordinary lives as if something so normal - like downloading a video game - could change the world you know. I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys humorous adventurous stories, or anyone who just wants to have a good read." --Sophie
A fun exciting adventure saving the world from a global apocalypse.
"Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse by multi-award-winning New Zealand author, Lee Murray, is a story about a 12-year-old boy called Seb who downloads a game on the school network. This decision sets off a zombie apocalypse. The apocalypse spreads through Bridgetown, causing an insatiable need to stay in sight of a screen in those infected.
With the town glued to their phones, it’s up to Seb and his two friends, Darren and Talia, to figure out a way to reverse the effects of the apocalypse and save everyone. They have a planning session, trying to find a solution which is really enjoyable and funny: “’We could go to Greenland,’ I suggested. ‘Greenland?’ Talia and Darren said together.”
The story is full of references to things that many young teens will relate to, including NFL, gaming, and computer jargon: “it felt like scoring a winning goal in extra time.” There are references to books and movies like Hulk and Robinson Crusoe. “Without her password, even the Hulk would struggle to get through.” All of these references are relatable and add authenticity to the novel. Young teens who enjoy sports and gaming will be instantly hooked.
Readers will love the characters of Seb, Talia and Darren, who team up to overcome the effects of the apocalypse. The team of heroes are authentic: there are no superpowers, just three normal kids trying to find a way to reverse a zombie apocalypse. I related to the characters, particularly Talia. They were very realistic, weren’t perfect and had interesting personalities: “She was annoyed. I could tell. Probably because I was the one coming up with all the good ideas.” I really liked Seb’s little sister, Ava. She hates baths, loves chocolate and is very cute: “Ava grabbed his nose with her tomato sauce fingers. ‘Fank you, Daddy,’ she said.” When everyone is affected by the apocalypse, Seb has to look after her while also trying to save the world. This adds another level of difficulty to Seb’s mission.
Murray cleverly uses the book as a tool to comment on the current state of society and its obsession with phones and other electronic devices.
Note: The story is full of positive messages, such as the value of not staying inside glued to your screen all day, and the power of being outside in the sunshine. There is beautiful imagery throughout the novel: “Fire licked though its blackened carcass, dark smoke spooling into the air.” It paints a vivid picture in the reader’s mind, and adds to the danger Seb and his friends are facing.
Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse has a distinct humorous streak which suits the age group and I really enjoyed it. “She shook her head and made that tsk-tsk sound that old people make when they’re not happy about something.” A really fun inclusion at the end of the book is an extract from Seb’s notebook which acts as the glossary. The definitions of the words are funny, informal and conversational, making it an extension of the story: “dystopia: a world you wouldn’t want to live in.” There were surprising and interesting plot twists I didn’t see coming which kept me hooked all the way through. The ending left me hanging, letting my mind fill-in what might happen next.
Even though I didn’t feel that I was the target audience, I was still invested in the characters and really enjoyed the plot. I would recommend this book to young teen readers who are looking for a fun exciting adventure saving the world from a global apocalypse. Now go outside and stop looking at the screen, lest you become a zombie!" --Hooked on Books
More Great Reviews!
Kids' Book Reviews by Shaye Wardrup
Aotearoa Reads / ReadNZ
Aurealis #132, 2020
"Page after page of complete delight!"