The End of the World Playlist - Dan  O'Brien

Using song titles as chapter headings seems like a cheap trick when you make nothing out of it. There are no references to the songs in the single chapters, so why the fuck they are mentioned as chapters is anyone´s guess. The only real reference to music is a page, or maybe a page and a half, when two of those dudes discuss which bands and songs should be on a playlist the day the world ends. Or after an apocalypse. That of course the world has basically already ended and we are thrown into the middle of *something* where zombies are everywhere and survivors are few has nothing to do with it. The whole concept in this seems off, and less than fitting to what it promises from the book title.

 

It does start good. A single scene with an omnipresent narrator. But the scene itself doesn´t seem to be connected to the rest of the novella. As a standalone it works. As a part of the whole not so much. 

 

There are many "fucks" used, and I am not against swearing by any means and certainly not offended, but here the whole word usage seems simply cheap. Right in the beginning of the novel are scenes where the five or six guys who survived whatthefuckever are in the middle of a zombie attack. They are all tense like shit, clearly afraid even but they don´t yell, scream or shout at eachother: do the fuck this, or do the fuck that. Nope, they *say* those things. It doesn´t fit to the situations described. Not that the guys really have to be afraid of anything. It gets clear very, very soon that those so called zombies are the most dumbest things you can imagine. OK, they are not only dead, but also braindead, nevertheless I would expect *some* sort of almost logical explanation for their idiocy, alas, there is none. They jump out of nowhere into the middle of the story just to get shot, run over by their cars or to get bolted onto a store register.

 

Awesome.

 

It should be grim, angsty, scary as hell, but since those dudes - can´t even remember their names, they are that kind of guys - are mere voices than characters they are hardly if any at all distinguishable from eachother. They all melt into one, and if there are five or six of them, if they are called Dan, Kenny or whatever happened to them doesnt really matter nor could I care about them. Also that the dialogues are rather wooden and stilted doesn´t help exactly to give them unique features.

 

I can´t shake of the impression that is less a zombie book, but rather a post-apocalyptic view of the world gone wrong. But if you think now "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy you are mistaken as the whole book is off.

 

The zombies could be anything. Call them xyz or a blank space (_____) (insert here whatever you wish for your own amusement) and it´s all the same. Except from some rather gruesome description of arms missing and similar there is nothing that would make them stand out as zombies. If they would not been called constantly "deadheads" I would have never guessed those are indeed, well, zombies.

 

The writing itself is straightforward, raw and gritty, but it´s all telling and every little thing is spelled out while at the same time nothing is explained. There isn´t anything that would I call interesting. Not even the so called psychological insights into a world of survivors. A bunch of assholes who fight each other, talk crap and more often shit their pants.

 

The novel is not without humor. The before mentioned arguement about which songs should be played at the end of world is the most remarkable scene. Nor did I expect exactly that they start to talk about Hello Kitty sheets.

 

As a whole it is not disturbing but rather depressing. Unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. The zombie apocalypse has to wait for another day and at the last page are several questions left that needs to be answered. The most important one is this one:

 

What´s the fucking point of it all?