Review: Apocalypse Weird: Texocalypse Now (DIGGER Book 1) by Michael Bunker and Nick Cole

TexocalypseAbout Texocalypse Now

Publication Date: February 23, 2015

Michael Bunker (Pennsylvania) and Nick Cole (The Old Man and the Wasteland) bring you a gritty tale of survival in the Post Apocalyptic Weird West Texas Badlands where towns have become abandoned wastelands and “Hordes,” packs of feral, cannibalistic humans made so by a diet pill Slenderex, devour anything and anyone they can find in search of protein. A band of children, led by a boy barely a man, will stand against a rising tide of humans gone feral, greedy precious metal pirates and psychotic roving biker gangs to make a home for themselves atop a hidden valley. But when a member of the 88, a Man in Black simply known as Mayhem arrives in the badlands, Ellis and his small “family” of orphans and lost children will have to go underground into a mysterious system of tunnels to fight back and survive. Lord of the Flies meets Mad Max beneath the Apocalypse Weird.

About the Authors

Michael Bunker is a USA Today Bestselling author, off-gridder, husband, and father of four children. He lives with his family in a "plain" community in Central Texas, where he reads and writes books...and occasionally tilts at windmills.  Michael is widely considered the "father" of the Amish/Scifi genre, and he is the author of several popular and acclaimed works of dystopian sci-fi, including the Amazon top 20 bestselling Amish Sci-fi thriller the Pennsylvania Omnibus.

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Nick Cole is a working actor living in Southern California. When he is not auditioning for commercials, going out for sitcoms or being shot, kicked, stabbed or beaten by the students of various film schools for their projects, he can often be found as a guard for King Phillip the Second of Spain in the Opera Don Carlo at Los Angeles Opera or some similar role. Nick Cole has been writing for most of his life and acting in Hollywood after serving in the U.S. Army.

My Thoughts

[I received a complimentary copy of this book from the authors for review.]

Although I had a few criticisms with the way various subplots were laid out and resolved (or unresolved, in some cases) in The Red King, the opening gambit to the Apocalypse Weird brand of books was strong enough to hook me on the universe (or bookverse, if you will) as a whole. The premise behind Apocalypse Weird was intriguing enough, and I was excited to see where things were heading with future releases.

The latest, Texocalypse Now, a collaboration between Michael Bunker and Nick Cole, is a solid, stronger, and more assured work, and gets right down to its nitty-gritty post-End of Days scenario. There's plenty of Easter Eggs to be had, too, including brief teases of other AW reads and a nice homage to Stephen King via the book's central antagonist, Mayhem (who, upon his introduction, is described as the man in black - a description King's faithful will recognize immediately, along with the previous names Mayhem has gone by in the past).

The Apocalypse Weird banner itself is intriguing in its own right, and Bunker has described it as a sort-of Marvel Universe of digital publishing that allows authors a massive sandbox to play around in with their various apocalyptic tropes. Cole's The Red King kicked things off with a zombie uprising in LA. In Texocalypse Now, Bunker and Cole set their sights on Texas, five years after the apocalypse.

After life unraveled in the blink of an eye, and humanity was cursed with blindness for twenty-four hours, the survivors struggle through the wastelands and their day-to-day lives. Twenty-something Ellis and his makeshift family of teens survive on a farmstead. Bunker's own life experiences as an off-gridder in Texas help make this scenario of daily survival read not only as entirely plausible but completely realistic. Bunker knows his stuff, and the pages devoted to farm life are well lived in, enough so that you might feel a bit dusty from toiling in the soil.

Mayhem's arrival in a nearby deserted town drives the books action and introduces us to the villainous Black Hands, after they are enlisted by Mayhem, a member of the demonic 88, to attack the farm.

Having had time to adjust to Bunker and Cole's episodic conceits to the line-up of stories taking place in the AW series, I'm a bit more patient and lenient in my expectations. While I would have liked to have learned more about the 88 and the Black Hand, I'm putting an awful lot of trust in these authors to sort things out and provide more background as these assorted series progress. While the authors may cite the Marvel Universe as inspiration, there's a fair amount of small-screen influences at work here, too, and it's best to approach these stories as "episodes" rather than single, complete works.

Given that, I'm much more satisfied with the brief narrative on display in Texocalypse Now, and I'm really looking forward to digging into (forgive the pun) Digger 2.0, as well as the other eclectic books that are forthcoming. Apocalypse Weird is just getting started, but I'm marking it as a brand to watch and pay attention to. Consider me sold.

Buy TexocalyPse Now At Amazon

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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